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Ivey v. City of New York

United States District Court, Second Circuit

December 12, 2013

KENNETH IVEY, DWAIN LANCE WILLIAMS, DAREN STATON, ERNEST LANGSTON, MICHAEL STRAKER, BRANAN BOSTON, and HOWARD POWELL, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK et al., Defendants.

OPINION & ORDER

PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, District Judge.

Before the Court is the August 20, 2013 Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV, see No. 12 Civ. 3580 (Dkt. 51) (the "Report"), addressing the above-captioned cases, which have been consolidated before this Court. The Report recommends that the Amended Complaints of plaintiffs Ivey (No. 12 Civ. 3580), Staton (No. 12 Civ. 4170), Langston (No. 12 Civ. 4961), and Powell (No. 12 Civ. 5695) be dismissed with prejudice pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Id. As to the Amended Complaints of plaintiffs Williams (No. 12 Civ. 3908), Straker (No. 12 Civ. 5155), and Boston (No. 12 Civ. 5668), the Report recommends that they be dismissed without prejudice, to allow these plaintiffs "to further amend their complaints to add the appropriate defendants and to state a plausible claim of individual or municipal liability." Report at 18.

For the reasons that follow, the Court finds the Report persuasive, and adopts it in full.

I. Background

These cases are among the more than 100 civil actions filed in this District concerning the adequacy of beds at the New York City Department of Correction's Anna M. Cross Center ("AMKC") on Rikers Island. The seven pro se plaintiffs identified above are or were inmates housed at the AMKC. They bring virtually identical lawsuits under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that they have been provided beds that are too short, too thin, uncomfortable, or otherwise deficient. See Report 1-2 (summarizing claims). The original Complaints of these plaintiffs were dismissed with leave to amend. All seven plaintiffs then submitted Amended Complaints.

On May 30, 2013, defendants filed a consolidated motion to dismiss, arguing that each plaintiff had failed: (1) to state a constitutional claim; (2) to provide facts showing the personal involvement of the named defendants; and (3) to plead municipal liability. See No. 12 Civ. 3580, Dkt. 44-45. No plaintiff submitted an opposition to defendants' motion to dismiss. On August 20, 2013, Judge Francis issued the Report, recommending that defendants' motion to dismiss the Amended Complaints be granted in part and denied in part. Specifically Judge Francis recommended that: (1) the Amended Complaints of plaintiffs Ivey, Staton, Langston, and Powell be dismissed with prejudice; and (2) the Amended Complaints of plaintiffs Williams, Straker, and Boston be dismissed without prejudice to allow them another chance to amend. See Report at 18. As to the latter three plaintiffs, the Report concluded that each had plausibly pled a conditions-of-confinement claim, but that each had failed to adequately plead individual or municipal liability. See id. at 13-18.

The deadline for the parties to file objections to the Report was September 4, 2013. Two plaintiffs-Ivey and Langston-filed objections. See No. 12 Civ. 3580, Dkt. 53 ("Ivey Objections"); No. 12 Civ. 4961, Dkt. 39 ("Langston Objections"). Defendants also filed an objection to Judge Francis's recommendation that the Amended Complaints of plaintiffs Williams, Straker, and Boston be dismissed without, rather than with, prejudice. See No. 12 Civ. 3580, Dkt. 52 ("Defendants' Objections").

II. Discussion

A. Standard of Review

In reviewing a Report and Recommendation, a district court "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). To accept those portions of the report to which no timely objection has been made, "a district court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record." Carlson v. Dep't of Justice, No. 10 Civ. 5149 (PAE) (KNF), 2012 WL 928124, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 19, 2012) (citation omitted); see also Wilds v. United Parcel Serv., 262 F.Supp.2d 163, 169 (S.D.N.Y. 2003).

Where specific objections are made, "[t]he district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). To the extent that the objecting party makes only conclusory or general objections, or simply reiterates the original arguments, the Court will review the Report strictly for clear error. See Jones v. Smith, No. 09 Civ. 6497 (PAE) (GAY), 2012 WL 1592190, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. May 7, 2012) (collecting cases). The Court is mindful that " pro se parties are generally accorded leniency when making objections." Pinkney v. Progressive Home Health Servs., No. 06 Civ. 5023(LTS) (JCF), 2008 WL 2811816, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 21, 2008) (citing Walker v. Vaughan, 216 F.Supp.2d 290, 292 (S.D.N.Y. 2002)); see also Vasquez v. Reynolds, No. 00 Civ. 0862 (RMB) (KNF), 2002 WL 417183, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 18, 2002) ("Where the petitioner is pro se, leniency is generally accorded.") (citation omitted). Nonetheless, to trigger de novo review, even a pro se party's objections to a Report and Recommendation must be "specific and clearly aimed at particular findings" in the magistrate judge's report. Parlin Funds LLC v. Gilliams, No. 11 Civ. 2534 (ALC) (MHD), 2012 WL 5258984, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 23, 2012) (quoting Molefe v. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, 602 F.Supp.2d 485, 487 (S.D.N.Y. 2009)).

B. Non-Objecting Plaintiffs

Because Staton and Powell did not submit any objections to the Report, a review for clear error is appropriate. Careful review of the Report as to these two plaintiffs reveals no clear error. On the contrary, the Court agrees with the Report's conclusions that Staton and Powell have failed to state plausible constitutional claims. The Report's analysis of Staton and Powell's claims, which is incorporated by reference, is adopted without modification.

Because the Report explicitly states that "[f]ailure to file timely objections will preclude appellate review, " Report at 18, Staton and Powell's failure to object operates as a waiver of appellate review. See Caidor v. Onondaga Cnty., 517 F.3d 601, 604 (2d Cir. 2008); Small v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 892 F.2d 15, 16 (2d Cir. 1989) (per curiam).

C. Ivey

On September 9, 2013, Plaintiff Ivey filed objections to the Report. See Ivey Objections. Ivey's Amended Complaint sought to plead a conditions-of-confinement claim under the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. Such a claim must satisfy a two-part test: (1) objectively, the deprivation suffered must deny "the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities, " Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991); and (2) subjectively, the defendants must have acted with deliberate indifference, in that they knew of and disregarded an excessive risk to inmate health or safety, Hathaway v. Coughlin, 37 F.3d 63, 66 (2d Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). Judge Francis concluded that Ivey's Amended Complaint had pled the existence of a serious medical condition: a back condition that "warranted a doctor's recommendation for a cane and a double mattress." Report at 12. However, once Ivey was diagnosed with this serious medical condition, he was transferred to another correctional facility and treated within 24 hours. ...


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