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Parris v. New York State Department Correctional Services

United States District Court, Second Circuit

May 23, 2013



JOHN G. KOELTL, District Judge.

The plaintiff, Antoine Parris, brings this pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the following defendants: Commissioner Brian Fischer, Superintendant William Lee, and Deputy Superintendant Edward Burnett.[1] The defendants are employees of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision ("DOCCS"). The plaintiff alleges that the defendants failed to prevent another inmate from stabbing him in violation of the Eighth Amendment and state law. The defendants have filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[2] The plaintiff has failed to respond to the motion, despite being granted an extension of time to respond by this Court. Therefore, the motion will be decided on the papers. For the reasons explained below, the motion to dismiss is granted.


The following facts are taken from the plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (the "Complaint") and are assumed to be true for the purposes of this motion to dismiss.

In January 2012, the plaintiff was a state prisoner in DOCCS custody, incarcerated at the Green Haven Correctional Facility ("Green Haven").[3] (Second Amended Complaint ("Compl.") 1-2, 4.)[4] At approximately 9:15 p.m. on January 19, 2012, while the plaintiff was walking through the six block yard, an unidentified assailant stabbed the plaintiff from behind with a sharp object. (Compl. 2.) When the plaintiff turned to defend himself, he was stabbed again. (Compl. 2.) He alleges that corrections officers, unnamed in this action, "did not notice" the assault and failed to respond until five to seven minutes after the attack began, despite the incident occurring near three or four security posts. (Compl. 2, 4.) The plaintiff further alleges that two of the security posts in the six block yard were unmanned at the time of the attack. (Compl. 4.)

The plaintiff was taken to the infirmary at Green Haven, and was later transferred to an outside hospital where he received nineteen stitches for his wounds. (Compl. 2, 3.) Upon returning to Green Haven, the plaintiff was placed in the facility hospital. (Compl. 3.) He was later placed in the Special Housing Unit for five months. (Compl. 3.)

The plaintiff filed a grievance on January 23, 2012, which was denied. (Compl. 3.) The plaintiff then filed an appeal, which was also denied. (Compl. 3.) It is unclear from the Complaint whether the plaintiff took a final appeal to the Central Office Review Committee.

The plaintiff then brought this action against the Commissioner of Corrections as well as the Superintendant and a Deputy Superintendant at Green Haven, none of whom are alleged to have been present at the time of the incident. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants were negligent both in failing to prevent the assault and in failing to notice and respond to the assault in a timely manner. (Compl. 4.) The plaintiff also alleges that the defendants violated the Eighth Amendment by acting with gross negligence and deliberate indifference toward his safety, and that the defendants knew of improper and outdated security practices at Green Haven yet allowed such practices to continue. (Compl. 4.)

On November 29, 2012, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The defendants argue the Complaint should be dismissed in its entirety for the following reasons: (1) the plaintiff did not exhaust his administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), (2) the plaintiff failed to state a valid Eighth Amendment claim, (3) the plaintiff failed to allege the personal involvement of the defendants, and (4) any state law claims are barred by New York Corrections Law § 24.[5] The notice of motion proposed that the plaintiff reply by December 28, 2012.

Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 12.1, the defendants also served the plaintiff a notice explaining that they had moved to dismiss the Complaint and that the Court may treat the motion as a motion for summary judgment because the defendants had submitted additional written materials. The notice advised the plaintiff of the importance of the plaintiff's responding to the motion to dismiss. On January 10, 2013, this Court extended the plaintiff's time to respond to January 28, 2013 and warned that if the plaintiff failed to respond by that date, the motion would be decided on the papers already filed. The plaintiff has not filed a response to the motion. Therefore, the motion will be decided based on the papers filed.


In deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the allegations in the complaint are accepted as true, and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the plaintiff's favor. McCarthy v. Dun & Bradstreet Corp. , 482 F.3d 184, 191 (2d Cir. 2007). The Court's function on a motion to dismiss is "not to weigh the evidence that might be presented at a trial but merely to determine whether the complaint itself is legally sufficient." Goldman v. Belden , 754 F.2d 1059, 1067 (2d Cir. 1985). The Court should not dismiss the complaint if the plaintiff has stated "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). While the Court should construe the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in the complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Id .; see also Pratt v. City of New York, No. 11 Civ. 8355, 2013 WL 979431, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 14, 2013).

When presented with a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the Court may consider documents that are referenced in the complaint, documents that the plaintiff relied on in bringing suit and that are either in the plaintiff's possession or that the plaintiff knew of when bringing suit, or matters of which judicial notice may be taken. See Taylor v. Vt. Dep't of Educ. , 313 F.3d 768, 776 (2d Cir. 2002); Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc. , 282 F.3d 147, 153 (2d Cir. 2002); Pratt, 2013 WL 979431 at *1.

When faced with a pro se complaint, the Court must "construe [the] complaint liberally and interpret it to raise the strongest arguments that it suggests." Chavis v. Chappius , 618 F.3d 162, 170 (2d Cir. 2010) (brackets and internal quotation marks omitted). "Even in a pro se case, however... threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id . (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, although the Court is "obligated to draw the most favorable inferences" that the ...

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