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Spencer v. Harrison

United States District Court, N.D. New York

January 8, 2014

DAVID HARRISON, et al., Defendants.

JOSHUA SPENCER, Plaintiff pro se.

JONATHAN M. BERNSTEIN, ESQ., Attorney for Defendants.


ANDREW T. BAXTER, Magistrate Judge.

This matter has been referred to me for Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 636(b) and LOCAL RULES N.D.N.Y. 72.3(c). In this civil rights complaint, plaintiff alleges that defendants[1] Matthew Hempel and Corrections Officer M. Miller failed to protect plaintiff from assault by another inmate in violation of plaintiff's constitutional rights. (Compl.) (Dkt. No. 1). Plaintiff seeks substantial monetary relief.

Presently before the court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. (Dkt. No. 16). Plaintiff has responded[2] in opposition to the defendants' motion, and defendants have filed a reply. (Dkt. Nos. 23, 24). For the following reasons, this court agrees with defendants that plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies and will recommend dismissal of the complaint.


I. Facts

Plaintiff states that he was incarcerated at the Columbia County Jail as a pretrial detainee when the incident that is the subject of his complaint occurred. Plaintiff alleges that he was "jumped" by the co-defendants in his criminal case: inmates Bost and Anderson. (Compl. at 2).[3] As a result of this assault, Captain Davi issued a "Separation Order, " for the individuals involved in the altercation. ( Id. at 2-3). Plaintiff states that from the date of the assault[4] until July 14, 2012, he was held in "Special Management Status." This status required him to be placed in restraints whenever he left his cell block, and he was taken to a recreation yard which was separate from the general population inmates. ( Id. at 3).

Plaintiff claims that because of the extra security to which he was subjected, the staff was "inconvenienced" to "some degree, " resulting in a "dislike" of the plaintiff. Plaintiff claims that he went through a series of "deprivations" due to this dislike. ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleges that on July 14, 2012, he was sitting at the unit table in his own cell block when inmate Anderson was escorted to the library. ( Id. ) Defendant Hempel was assigned to the library on that day. Plaintiff claims that "at some point, " his cell block door was opened by defendant Miller, "and out of nowhere, inmate Anderson... ran into the cell block and brutally attacked the plaintiff... causing injury to his face and body." ( Id. ) Plaintiff claims that the assault went on for several minutes until the officers came to "prevent the assailant from further attacking the plaintiff."

Plaintiff states that following the attack, he requested medical assistance, but that he was not allowed to see the medical staff for treatment for more than one week.[5] Plaintiff also claims that no photographs were taken, nor was he taken to an outside hospital for an assessment, resulting in "severe physical suffering."[6] ( Id. at 3-4).

Plaintiff claims that the door to the library should have been locked at all times when the general population inmates were inside, and it should be "doubly checked" when a Special Management inmate is inside.[7] Plaintiff states that on July 14, 2012, the library door was " conveniently unsecured and unmanned, " allowing inmate Anderson the ability to run out of the library and across the hall to plaintiff's cell block, the door to which was also "conveniently" opened so that Anderson could attack plaintiff. ( Id. at 4).

The complaint contains two causes of action. ( Id. at 4-5). The first cause of action alleges that plaintiff's constitutional rights were violated when the defendants displayed a reckless disregard for plaintiff's safety in allowing inmate Anderson to enter plaintiff's cell block and assault him. The second cause of action essentially recites the same basis for the alleged constitutional violation.[8] Plaintiff also alleges that the defendants are being sued in their individual and official capacities. (Compl. at 5). As an exhibit to the complaint, plaintiff has attached a copy of what appears to be a misbehavior report that resulted from the incident.

II. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate where there exists no genuine issue of material fact and, based on the undisputed facts, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Salahuddin v. Goord, 467 F.3d 263, 272-73 (2d Cir. 2006). "Only disputes over ["material"] facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). It must be apparent that no rational finder of fact could find in favor of the ...

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