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Garcia v. Witkowski

United States District Court, W.D. New York

December 19, 2013

JASON GARCIA, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER ANTHONY WITKOWSKI, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER DANIEL HEINTZ, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER M. MEYER, Defendants

For Jason Garcia, Plaintiff: Peter J. Gregory, LEAD ATTORNEY, McConville Considine Cooman & Morin, PC, Rochester, NY.

For Correctional Officer Anthony Witkowski, Correctional Officer Daniel Heintz, Correctional Officer M. Meyer, Defendants: Gary M. Levine, LEAD ATTORNEY, New York State Office of the Attorney General, Rochester, NY.

OPINION

Page 361

DECISION AND ORDER

DAVID G. LARIMER, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff, Jason Garcia, commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (" DOCCS" ), asserts claims under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution against Anthony Witkowski, Daniel Heintz, and M. Meyer, who at all relevant times were correction officers employed by DOCCS.

Plaintiff brought this action pro se, but the Court has since appointed counsel to represent him. Dkt. #37. Through counsel, plaintiff has filed a second amended complaint (Dkt. #46), alleging that on August 12, 2009, while plaintiff was in the C-block recreational yard (" yard" ) at Attica Correctional Facility, he was attacked by several other inmates, one of whom stabbed plaintiff with a knife or similar object. As will be explained below, apparently his attackers mistook plaintiff for their intended victim.

Plaintiff's single claim is that defendants were deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk to his health and safety, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendants failed to take steps to prevent the attack from occurring, such as patting down inmates before allowing them to enter the yard, using metal detectors at the entrance to the yard, and providing adequate personnel to monitor prisoners' activities in the yard. Plaintiff also alleges that defendants knew or should have known of the danger that prisoners might attempt to bring weapons into the recreational yard. He seeks money damages for his injuries.

Defendants have moved for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the motion is granted, and the complaint is dismissed.

DISCUSSION

The Eighth Amendment imposes a duty on prison officials " to take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of inmates in their custody." Hayes v. New York City Dep't of Corr., 84 F.3d 614, 620 (2d Cir. 1996) (citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832-33, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994)). A failure-to-protect claim requires a showing that prison officials acted with " deliberate indifference" to the inmate's safety. Morales v. New York State Dep't of Corr., 842 F.2d 27, 30 (2d Cir. 1988).

In order to demonstrate such deliberate indifference, the plaintiff must show

Page 362

that " he [wa]s incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm" and that prison officials had " knowledge that [the] inmate face[d] a substantial risk of serious harm and ... disregard[ed] that risk by failing to take reasonable ...


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