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Hamilton v. Smith

United States District Court, Second Circuit

May 23, 2013

DERRICK HAMILTON, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH T. SMITH, et al., Defendants.

DERRICK HAMILTON, Plaintiff, Pro Se, New Haven, CT,

CATHY Y. SHEEHAN, ESQ., Assistant Attorney General, ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, Attorney General of the State of New York, Albany, NY, Attorney for Defendants The Capitol

REPORT-RECOMMENDATION AND ORDER

RANDOLPH F. TREECE, Magistrate Judge.

Pro se Plaintiff Derrick Hamilton brought this civil rights action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Hamilton originally brought the action against twenty-two Defendants, alleging a myriad of constitutional violations spanning a two-year period of time during his incarceration in four state correctional facilities, all while he was in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision ("DOCCS").[1] Dkt. No. 1, Compl. On March 22, 2012, the Honorable Mae A. D'Agostino, United States District Judge, adopted this Court's Recommendations, granted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss in part, and dismissed seventeen Defendants from this action. Dkt. Nos. 52 & 53. Thereafter, on January 8, 2013, the remaining Defendants - Joseph T. Smith, G. Gardner, M. Signorella, D. Forbes, and Joe Wolczyk - moved for summary judgment, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Dkt. No. 62. In accordance with this District's Local Rules of Practice, Defendants attached to their Motion the Court's "Notification of the Consequences of Failing to Respond to a Summary Judgment Motion." Id. A response to that Motion was due on or before February 19, 2013.

Also on January 8, 2013, the Clerk of the Court sent Plaintiff a separate Notice notifying him of the nature of summary judgment and warning him of the consequences that could occur should he fail to respond to the Defendants' Motion. Dkt. No. 63. On February 14, 2013, Plaintiff sought, and this Court granted, a thirty-day extension of time for him to respond to the Motion. Dkt. No. 65; Text Order, dated Feb. 14, 2013 (extending Plaintiff's response deadline to March 18, 2013). To date, no response has been filed on Plaintiff's behalf. Having provided Plaintiff with ample opportunity to respond and ample warning of the consequences of his failure to do so, we now address Defendants' Motion. For the reasons explained below, we recommend granting Defendants' Motion and dismissing this entire action.

I. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

Summary judgment shall be granted "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits... show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986); accord F.D.I.C. v. Giammettei, 34 F.3d 51, 54 (2d Cir. 1994). The moving party has the burden of demonstrating that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Thomas v. Roach, 165 F.3d 137, 142 (2d Cir. 1999). "When a motion for summary judgment is made and supported... an adverse party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the... pleading, but the adverse party's response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e)], must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." St. Pierre v. Dyer, 208 F.3d 394, 404 (2d Cir. 2000) (quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e)). "[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment[.]" Rexnord Holdings, Inc. v. Bidermann, 21 F.3d 522, 525 (2d Cir. 1994) (alteration and emphasis in original) (citation omitted). However, it is well settled that on a motion for summary judgment, the court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Tenenbaum v. Williams, 193 F.3d 581, 593 (2d Cir. 1999).

Furthermore, in a pro se case, the court must view the submissions by a more lenient standard than that accorded to "formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994) (a court is to read a pro se party's "supporting papers liberally, and... interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest"). Indeed, the Second Circuit has stated that "[i]mplicit in the right to self-representation is an obligation on the part of the court to make reasonable allowances to protect pro se litigants from inadvertent forfeiture of important rights because of their lack of legal training." Traguth v. Zuck, 710 F.2d 90, 95 (2d Cir. 1983). Any ambiguities and inferences drawn from the facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. LaFond v. Gen. Physics Servs. Corp., 50 F.3d 165, 171 (2d Cir. 1995). This liberal standard, however, does not excuse a pro se litigant from following the procedural formalities of summary judgment. Showers v. Eastmond, 2001 WL 527484, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. May 16, 2001).

Local Rule 7.1(a)(3) requires the non-movant to file a Statement of Material Facts that mirrors the movant's statement in matching numbered paragraphs and that sets forth a specific reference to the record where the material fact is alleged to arise. N.D.N.Y.L.R. 7.1(a)(3). More specifically, this Local Rule provides that "[t]he Court shall deem admitted any facts set forth in the Statement of Material Facts that the opposing party does not specifically controvert." Id. (emphasis in original). Courts of the Northern District have adhered to a strict application of Local Rule 7.1(a)(3)'s requirement on summary judgment motions. Giguere v. Racicot, 2002 WL 368534, at *2 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 1, 2002) (citing, inter alia, Bundy Am. Corp. v. K-Z Rental Leasing, Inc., 2001 WL 237218, at *1 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 9, 2001)).

Furthermore, this Circuit adheres to the view that nothing in Rule 56 imposes an obligation on the Court to conduct a search and independent review of the record to find proof of a factual dispute. Amnesty Am. v. Town of West Hartford, 288 F.3d 467, 470 (2d Cir. 2002). As long as the Local Rules impose a requirement that parties provide specific record citations in support of their statement of material facts, the court may grant summary judgment on that basis. Id. at 470-71.

B. Plaintiff's Claims

As a result of the Decisions issued regarding Defendants' prior Motion to Dismiss, four claims asserted in the Complaint are currently at issue: 1) Defendant Joseph T. Smith, Superintendent of Shawanagunk Correctional Facility, allegedly requested that Plaintiff be transferred to another facility in May 2008 as retaliation for questions Plaintiff had been raising regarding the action, or inaction, of DOCCS' employees, and specifically Defendant Smith, in preventing the death of another inmate; 2) Defendant G. Gardner, Lieutenant at Shawangunk Correctional Facility, allegedly recommended that Plaintiff be transferred to involuntary protective custody status in March 2009 as retaliation for complaints Plaintiff raised, in his capacity as inmate liaison, regarding the quality of the Facility's drinking water; 3) Defendants M. Signorella and D. Forbes, both Corrections Officers at Shawanagunk, allegedly used excessive force against Plaintiff on November 2, 2009, while Plaintiff was receiving treatment at St. Luke's Hospital for an apparent suicide attempt; and 4) Defendant Joe Wolczyk, who presided as a hearing officer over a disciplinary hearing concerning misbehavior reports generated from the November 2, 2009 incident prior to and during the stay at St. Luke's, allegedly denied him due process. See Dkt. Nos. 1, 52, & 53.

Defendants assert that Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Smith, for retaliatory transfer, and Defendants Signorella and Forbes, for excessive force, are not exhausted and should be dismissed. Dkt. No. 62-10, Defs.' Mem. of Law. Defendants also claim that Plaintiff's due process claim against Defendant Wolczyk should be dismissed because he received all the process he was due, and his retaliation claim against Defendant Gardner fails as a ...


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