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Smith v. Rock

United States District Court, Second Circuit

November 27, 2013

PAUL SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
D. ROCK, Superintendent, Upstate Correctional Facility; DONALD UHLER, Deputy of Security, Upstate Correctional Facility; ANCTEL, Lieutenant, Upstate Correctional Facility; FIFIELD, Sergeant, Upstate Correctional Facility; GARY GETTMAN, Sergeant, Upstate Correctional Facility; FIZZAZIO, Officer, Upstate Correctional Facility; MITCHELL, Male Officer, Upstate Correctional Facility; T. RAMSDELL, Officer, Upstate Correctional Facility; THOMPSON, Officer, Upstate Correctional Facility; L. STICKNEY, Education Supervisor, Upstate Correctional Facility, Defendants.

PAUL SMITH, 00-A-2268 Plaintiff pro se Upstate Correctional Facility Malone, NY.

CHRISTOPHER W. HALL, ESQ., HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, Attorney General for the State of New York, Counsel for Defendants, The Capitol, Albany, NY.

REPORT-RECOMMENDATION

THÉRÈSE WILEY DANCKS, Magistrate Judge.

This pro se prisoner civil rights action, commenced pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, has been referred to me for Report and Recommendation by the Honorable David N. Hurd, United States District Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 72.3(c). Plaintiff Paul Smith alleges that he was wrongly transferred to a double-bunk cell in violation of a pre-existing medical accommodation for single-occupancy placement. (Dkt. No. 1.) Currently pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 37.) For the reasons that follow, I recommend that Defendants' motion be granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

The following facts are derived from the face of the operative Complaint and are accepted as true for the purposes of deciding the pending motion to dismiss. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Plaintiff is an inmate at Upstate Correctional Facility. (Dkt No. 1 at 1.[1]) Plaintiff allegedly suffers from a vision disability and, as a result, a hit to the back of the head could result in permanent vision loss. Id. at 6. Plaintiff asserts that because of his medical disability, Defendant Deputy of Security Uhler guaranteed Plaintiff a permanent single-occupancy cell assignment. Id. For two years Plaintiff remained in a single-occupancy cell. Id.

Upon returning from a medical trip on June 21, 2012, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Uhler reassigned him to a double-bunk cell. Id. at 6-7. Plaintiff claims Defendant Anctel stated that he spoke with Superintendent Uhler on the phone before a "riot squad" moved Plaintiff into a cell with another inmate. Id. at 7. Plaintiff claims he is now sleeping on a bed frame with "no mattress, no pillow, no sheets, no blanket." Id. Plaintiff now refuses to go on his medical trips or court appearances for fear of being retaliated against for leaving the prison. Id.

Plaintiff received three misbehavior reports allegedly related to this series of events. Id. Defendant Stickney conducted a hearing on July 3, 2012, the result of which was not in Plaintiff's favor. Id. Plaintiff attributes the result of the hearing to the alleged homosexuality of Defendant Stickney. Id. Plaintiff states that, as a Muslim, he "keeps [his] distance" from homosexuals and lesbians, who are "ill-minded freaks." Id. Plaintiff claims that all Defendants have an "evil intent to have [him] harmed and killed [and] l[]ose [his] vision." Id. at 8.

Plaintiff filed the operative Complaint on July 18, 2012. (Dkt. No. 1.) On October 17, 2012, the Court granted Plaintiff's in forma pauperis application in accordance with the "imminent danger" exception to the three strikes rule set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). (Dkt. No. 10.) On March 12, 2013, the Court denied Plaintiff's motion to amend and/or supplement his Complaint and ordered that the stay of the deadline for Defendants' response to the Complaint be lifted. (Dkt. No. 35.) Currently pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 37.) Plaintiff has failed to oppose the motion. The docket indicates that notice to Plaintiff of the response deadline was returned as "Undeliverable" with the note: "refused 2x by i/m." (Dkt. No. 40.) For the reasons that follow, I recommend that Defendants' motion be granted in part and denied in part.

II. LEGAL STANDARD GOVERNING MOTIONS TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM

A defendant may move to dismiss a complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the ground that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In order to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, a complaint must contain, inter alia, "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The requirement that a plaintiff "show" that he or she is entitled to relief means that a complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)) (emphasis added). "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief... requires the... court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.... [W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not shown - that the pleader is entitled to relief." Id. at 679 (internal citation and punctuation omitted).

"In reviewing a complaint for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept the material facts alleged in the complaint as true and construe all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor." Hernandez v. Coughlin, 18 F.3d 133, 136 (2d Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). Courts are "obligated to construe a pro se complaint liberally." Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). However, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

III. ANALYSIS

Defendants argue that the Complaint should be dismissed because it fails to allege facts plausibly suggesting Defendants' personal involvement in the alleged constitutional deprivations. (Dkt. No. 37-1 at 3-5.[2]) For the reasons discussed below, I find that Defendants are correct regarding Defendants Fifield, Gettman, Fizzazio, Mitchell, Ramsdell, Thompson, and Rock. However, I find ...


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