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Eugene Sidney v. T.L. Caron

September 25, 2012

EUGENE SIDNEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
T.L. CARON, CORR. COUNSELOR, UPSTATE CORR. FACILITY; T. TYNON, SENIOR CORR. COUNSELOR, UPSTATE CORR. FACILITY; M. LIRA, DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT FOR PROGRAM SVCS., UPSTATE CORR. FACILITY; BRIAN S. FISCHER, COMM'R; MR. J. BELLNIER; AND MR. RANIERI, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Suddaby, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

Currently before the Court, in this pro se prisoner civil rights action filed by Eugene Sidney ("Plaintiff") against the six above-named Defendants, are (1) Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim and/or motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 100), (2) United States Magistrate Judge Andrew T. Baxter's Report-Recommendation recommending that Defendants' motion be granted (Dkt. No. 110), and (3) Plaintiff's Objection to the Report-Recommendation (Dkt. No. 111). For the reasons set forth below, the Report-Recommendation is accepted and adopted in its entirety; Defendants' motion is granted; and Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is dismissed in its entirety.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Claims Asserted in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint

Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this action on November 27, 2009. (Dkt. No. 1.) On April 23, 2010, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. (Dkt. No. 15.) Construed with the utmost of liberality, Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges that, while he was incarcerated at Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone, New York, Defendants violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution in the following manner: (1) Defendants issued false misbehavior reports against him in retaliation for engaging in protected activity; (2) Defendants violated his due process rights by issuing false misbehavior reports, and imposing sanctions (including dietary restrictions), against him; (3) Defendants interfered with his ability to file grievances; (4) Defendants disrupted the free-flow of his mail; (5) by imposing "food loaf" sanctions on him, Defendants subjected him to inadequate conditions of confinement; and (6) Defendants conspired to deny him his constitutional rights. (See generally Dkt. No. 15 [Plf.'s Am. Compl.]). Familiarity with the factual allegations supporting these claims in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is assumed in this Decision and Order, which is intended primarily for review by the parties.

B. Parties' Briefing on Defendants' Motion

On September 27, 2011, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim and/or for motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 100.) Generally, in support of their motion, Defendants assert the following eight arguments: (1) Plaintiff has failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting a claim for retaliation;*fn1 (2) Plaintiff has failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting a claim for the denial of his right of access to the courts;

(3) Plaintiff has failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting a claim for the denial of his right to the free flow of mail; (4) Plaintiff has failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting a claim for the denial of his right to procedural due process; (5) Plaintiff has failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting a claim of inadequate prison conditions; (6) Plaintiff has failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting a claim of conspiracy; (7) in any event, Plaintiff has failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting the personal involvement of Defendants Bellnier, Fischer, Lira, and Tynon in the constitutional violations alleged; and (8) in any event, based on the record evidence before the Court, Plaintiff

failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies before filing his Amended Complaint. (Dkt. No. 100, Attach. 5 [Defs. Memo. of Law].)

On October 24, 2011, Plaintiff filed a response to Defendants' motion. (Dkt. No. 106.) Generally, in his response, Plaintiff asserts the following four arguments: (1) the Court need only make a telephone call, or send "an efficient communicat[ion]," to the "Public Integrity Bureau" in order to confirm that Plaintiff's conspiracy claim has merit; (2) the doctrine of res judicata bars the dismissal of Plaintiff's due process claims, given a hearing officer's prior dismissal of Defendant Caron's fourteenth misbehavior report; (3) based on the record evidence before the Court, Defendants Bellnier, Fischer, Lira, and Tynon were personally involved in the constitutional violations alleged; (4) based on the record evidence before the Court (e.g., which shows that his wife never called DOCCS to complain about his calling her), Plaintiff has established viable claims the denial of his right to procedural due process, and the denial of adequate prison conditions; and (5) based in part on the (purported) fact that a second grievance was "pilfered by theivery hands," Plaintiff exhausted his available administrative remedies before filing his Amended Complaint. (Id.)*fn2

On November 8, 2011, Defendants filed their reply to Plaintiff's response. (Dkt. No. 108.) Generally, in their reply, Defendants assert the following six arguments: (1) Plaintiff's conspiracy argument should be rejected because it addresses the wrong conspiracy, addressing an earlier alleged conspiracy that does not give rise to a claim in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint; (2) because Plaintiff has failed to oppose Defendants' motion on the access-to-courts claim, the free-flow-of-mail claim, and the relevant conspiracy claim, these three claims should be summarily dismissed; (3) because Plaintiff has conceded that he received and signed a copy of the negative correspondence list before the issuance of any misbehavior reports, he has has failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting a claim for retaliation; (4) under the circumstances, the dismissal of Defendant Caron's fourteenth misbehavior report (which did not address any of the prior such misbehavior reports) does not preclude Plaintiff's current procedural due process claim pursuant to the doctrine of res judicata; (5) none of the record evidence cited by Plaintiff is a sufficient basis on which a rational fact finder could conclude that Defendants Bellnier, Fischer, Lira, and Tynon were personally involved in the constitutional violations alleged; and (6) because Plaintiff does not argue that any Defendant stole the purported second grievance (or describe the contents of it, or argue that he attempted to refile it), Plaintiff failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies before filing his Amended Complaint. (Id.)

C. Magistrate Judge Baxter's Report-Recommendation

On January 3, 2012, Magistrate Judge Baxter issued a Report-Recommendation recommending that Defendants' motion be granted. (Dkt. No. 110.) Generally, in his Report-Recommendation, Magistrate Judge Baxter made the following two findings: (1) based on the record evidence, Plaintiff's claims for retaliation, the denial of his right of access to the courts, the denial of his right to adequate conditions of confinement, and conspiracy should be dismissed based on Plaintiff's failure to exhaust his available administrative remedies before filing his Amended Complaint; and (2) because Plaintiff failed to allege facts plausibly suggesting a procedural due process claim and free-flow-of-mail ...


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