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Rose v. Masiey

United States District Court, Second Circuit

July 16, 2013

ROOSEVELT ROSE, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECTION OFFICER MASIEY #4610 et al., Defendants. ROOSEVELT ROSE, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION ET AL., Defendants. ROOSEVELT ROSE, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION ET AL., Defendants,

TO THE HONORABLE LEWIS A. KAPLAN, U.S.D.J.:

REPORT & RECOMMENDATION

MICHAEL H. DOLINGER, Magistrate Judge.

Pro se plaintiff Roosevelt Rose is an inmate in the New York State correctional system. In three lawsuits filed in 2005 and 2006, while he was in New York City custody, he sued thirteen identified correctional officers from three Rikers Island facilities - the Anna M. Kross Center ("AMKC"), the Otis Bantum Correction Center ("OBCC") and the George Motchan Detention Center ("GMDC") - as well as Brian Riordan, the Warden of the AMKC; Carlis E. Thompson, the acting warden of the OBCC; Patrick Walsh, the Warden of the GMDC; Martin Horn, who was the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction; and several other individuals.[1] Invoking 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, plaintiff asserted claims for denial of his First and Fourteenth Amendment right to practice his religion, for which he sought damages and injunctive relief.[2]

Following the expiration of the discovery period, defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff has not responded to the motion, although he was given notice, pursuant to S.D.N.Y. Civil Rule 56.2, of his obligations in seeking to oppose this motion. For the reasons that follow, we recommend that the motion be granted.

Prior Proceedings

A. Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff's three lawsuits are among a group of more than a dozen cases filed more or less contemporaneously by current or former Muslim inmates at the Rikers Island prison facilities, all of whom complained about the handling of food and related items at the prison dining facilities. All alleged that the New York City Department of Correction ("DOC") had failed to provide them with meals that comply with the Halal requirements of their faith and had thereby denied them the free exercise of their religion, in violation of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

We read plaintiff's allegations liberally in deference to his pro se status. E.g., Hernandez v. Coughlin , 18 F.3d 133, 136 (2d Cir. 1994). We infer that, except where Rose makes additional allegations, he is asserting the same claims and, in substance, making the same allegations as the pro se, plaintiffs in the parallel Halal cases that this court has previously decided. See Wales v. City of New York, 2008 WL 728870, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 18, 2008); Robinson v. City of New York, 2008 WL 756101, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 5, 2008), report and recommendation adopted in part, 2008 WL 756082 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 21, 2008); Wesley v. Muhammad, No. 05 Civ. 5833 (GEL) (MHD) (S.D.N.Y. May 25, 2010) (report & recommendation on summary judgment motion) ("Wesley R&R") at 5-6. In particular, we read Rose's pleadings in light of the more specific allegations set forth in the Rule 56 motion in the parallel case of Wesley v. Muhammad, 05 Civ. 5833 - the one case among this group in which the plaintiff was, for a time, represented by pro bono counsel. See Wesley R&R at 5-6.

Mr. Rose alleged, in substance, that prison personnel had failed to provide proper Halal meals to him and to other Muslim inmates as the result of several prison practices that rendered their meals non-Halal. These included the stacking and washing together of Halal and non-Halal trays, [3] the use of soap that contains pork by-products, the failure to cook thoroughly the Halal meat, the failure to separate the Halal from the non-Halal utensils and food pans and carts, the failure to identify the Halal utensils and other kitchen items, and the failure to provide Halal meals to prisoners returning from court. (Am. Compls. (Nos. 05 Civ. 8828, 05 Civ. 8829) at pp. 5-a to d, 5-f to g). Plaintiff also complained about the manner in which food items are sold at the commissaries, alleging that the commissaries sold both Halal and non-Halal foods but failed to identify which items were non-Halal. He appeared to allege that the Muslim inmates unknowingly purchased non-Halal food products, which, when placed on Halal-designated trays, resulted in contamination and rendered those trays subsequently non-Halal. (See Am. Compls. (Nos. 05 Civ. 8828, 05 Civ. 8829) at pp. 5-a to d, 5-f to H; Compl. (No. 06 Civ. 464) at 3).

In plaintiff's complaints, he further alleged that he had filed grievances with each of the Rikers Island prison facilities at which he was confined and, in the case of Rose v. Maisey, that he "got no answer" (Compl. (No. 06 Civ. 464) at 4), and in the other two cases that there was no "result" from his grievances. (Am. Compls. (Nos. 05 Civ. 8828, 05 Civ. 8829) at 3). He also alleged that the defendant wardens and Commissioner, as well as all of the other defendants, were notified of these problems (Am. Compls. (Nos. 05 Civ. 8828, 05 Civ. 8829) at pp. 5-f, 5-H), and that he himself notified the wardens and Commissioner. (Am. Compls. (Nos. 05 Civ. 8828, 05 Civ. 8829) at 5-a; Compl. (No. 06 Civ. 464) at 4).

As for the role of the defendants named in Rose's lawsuits, he alleged that the corrections officers all work at the prison commissaries and are thus responsible for the sale of non-Halal food items without identification of their non-Halal status. (See Am. Compls. (Nos. 05 Civ. 8828, 8829) at pp. 5-a to b, 5-d to H, 7-a). He further asserted that the Commissioner, the wardens and the manager of the CBCC commissary have all been repeatedly notified of the cited failures to provide proper Halal meals and the sale of unidentified non-Halal foods at the commissaries, and that those officials failed to act to correct these problems. (See Am. Compls. (Nos. 05 Civ, 8828, 8829) at pp. 5-a, 5-f, 5-H, 7-a). These allegations concerning the defendants' personal involvement mirror those asserted in the parallel Halal-related cases that the court has already decided. See, e.g., Wesley, 2008 WL 123812 at *2, 6-7; Randolph v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Corr. , 2007 WL 2660282, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 7, 2007); Mason v. Masley, No. 06 Civ. 1829 (GEL) (MHD) (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 11, 2008) (report & recommendation) at 5-6.

B. Subsequent Proceedings

At the outset of the litigation, defendants moved to dismiss Mr. Rose's three complaints on a variety of grounds, including failure to exhaust administrative remedies, failure to state cognizable claims, and qualified immunity. The court dismissed the complaints as against seven individual defendants but otherwise denied the motion. Rose v. Masiey, 2008 WL 706254, *1 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 14, 2008).

In view of the acquisition of counsel by the plaintiff in the Wesley case, further pre-trial proceedings in Mr. Rose's lawsuits remained quiescent until the court granted summary judgment in Wesley with respect to all claims except that concerning the defendants' practice of washing all Halal and non-Halal trays and other kitchen equipment together. (Wesley, No. 05 Civ. 5833 (GEL) (MHD) (S.D.N.Y. July 19, 2010) (order adopting report & recommendation)). Although discovery remained open in Rose's cases for an extended period, it is not clear whether plaintiff participated in any way, although defendants apparently did unsuccessfully seek documents from him. (See ...


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