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Pilorge v. Panzarella

United States District Court, Second Circuit

August 27, 2013

PATRICK PILORGE, Plaintiff,
v.
MARIO PANZARELLA ET AL., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JESSE M. FURMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Patrick Pilorge, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to Title 42, United States Code, Section 1983, against seven Defendants, all current or former employees of the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS"), alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Defendants move to dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' motion is GRANTED, and the Amended Complaint is dismissed.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from the Amended Complaint and are assumed to be true for purposes of this motion. See, e.g., LaFaro v. N.Y. Cardiothoracic Grp., PLLC, 570 F.3d 471, 475 (2d Cir. 2009).

Plaintiff is a New York State prisoner currently incarcerated at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility ("Sing Sing") in Ossining, New York. (Am. Compl. II(A)). On or about November 24, 2011, Plaintiff informed Defendant Emily Torres, a corrections officer at Sing Sing, that the sink in his prison cell was damaged. (Am. Compl. Statement of Claim (A)). Torrres took no steps to repair the broken sink, and Plaintiff was not moved out of his cell. ( Id. ). The following day, Plaintiff cut himself on the sink. ( Id. ). Plaintiff told Torres about his injury, but once again Torres did nothing to address the problem (Am. Compl. II(D)).

On December 8, 2011, the sink collapsed, injuring Plaintiff's right arm and left index finger. (Am. Compl. II(D); id. Ex. A ("Dec. 9, 2011 Report")). Plaintiff was immediately taken to an emergency room, where he received three stitches in his arm and eight stitches in his finger. (Dec. 9, 2011 Report; Am. Compl. II(D)). After his injuries were treated, Plaintiff was sent to Sing Sing's Special Housing Unit ("SHU") for five days. (Am. Compl. II(D)). After investigating the incident, Defendant Panzarella, a correction officer at Sing Sing, filed a Misbehavior Report in which she falsely stated that Plaintiff intentionally broke the sink. ( See Dec. 9, 2011 Report (explaining that Plaintiff's "injuries were not consistent with the facts obtained and [his] verbal account of [the] event"); Am. Compl. Statement of Claim (D) (describing the misbehavior report as "fraudulent")). The sink was repaired "immediately" after the incident. (Am. Compl. Statement of Claim (C)). As of January 23, 2013, Plaintiff's finger was still "35% not operable." (Am. Compl. III).

Plaintiff commenced this action on August 22, 2012. (Docket No. 2). After Defendants filed a motion to dismiss (Docket No. 17), Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint (Docket No. 23). Defendants now move to dismiss the Amended Complaint. (Docket No. 24).

LEGAL STANDARD

In reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must accept the factual allegations set forth in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See, e.g., Holmes v. Grubman, 568 F.3d 329, 335 (2d Cir. 2009). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, however, the plaintiff must plead sufficient 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 is facially plausible "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) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). More specifically, the plaintiff must allege sufficient facts to show "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully." Id. A complaint that offers only "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Further, if the plaintiff has not "nudged [his or her] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, [the] complaint must be dismissed." Id. at 570.

Plaintiff here is proceeding pro se. Therefore, his submission should be held "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (stating that a court is "obligated to construe a pro se complaint liberally"). Nevertheless, pro se plaintiffs are not excused from the normal rules of pleading and "dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is proper if the complaint lacks an allegation regarding an element necessary to obtain relief.'" Geldzahler v. N.Y. Med. Coll., 663 F.Supp.2d 379, 387 (S.D.N.Y. 2009) (quoting 2 Moore's Federal Practice § 12.34 [4][a] at 12-72.7 (2005) (alteration omitted)). Thus, the "duty to liberally construe a plaintiff's complaint [is not] the equivalent of a duty to re-write it.'" Id. (quoting 2 Moore's Federal Practice § 12.34[1][b], at 12-61 (internal quotation marks omitted)); see also, e.g., Joyner v. Greiner, 195 F.Supp.2d 500, 503 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (dismissing action because pro se plaintiff "failed to allege facts tending to establish" that defendants violated his constitutional rights).

DISCUSSION

In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Torres, O'Cana, Heath, Keyser, and Harvey violated his constitutional rights by failing to fix the broken sink in his prison cell, thereby showing deliberate indifference to his health and safety. (Am. Compl. Statement of Claim (A), (B), (E)). Plaintiff further alleges that his rights were violated when Defendants Panzarella and Malloy filed the "fraudulent" Misbehavior Report and when Defendants confined him in the SHU for five days. He seeks monetary damages for the injuries to his hand and arm, as well as compensation for his "mental pain and suffering." (Am. Compl. V).[1]

A. The Broken Sink

Plaintiff alleges first that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by failing to timely replace the broken sink in his prison cell. The Eighth Amendment imposes on prison officials the duty to provide prisoners with "humane conditions of confinement" and to "take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates.'" Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (quoting Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526-27 (1984)). The test for an Eighth Amendment claim is twofold. First, a prisoner must show that the condition to which he was exposed was sufficiently serious, see id. at 834, amounting to "a condition of urgency... that may produce death, degeneration, or extreme pain, " Johnson v. Wright, 412 F.3d 398, 403 (2d Cir. 2005) (internal quotations omitted). Second, a plaintiff must show ...


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