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Sean Best v. New York City Department of Correction

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 31, 2014

SEAN BEST, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, DEPUTY PEREZ, JOHN DOE, CAPTAIN MERCED, WARDEN GEORGE OKADA, CAPTAIN KURTAZ, CAPTAIN A. TAYLOR, O'CONNOR, JOHN DOE, and THE CITY OF NEW YORK, Defendants

Sean Best, Plaintiff, Pro se, Elmira, NY.

For Defendants: Ryan Shaffer, Esq., Office of the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, New York, NY.

OPINION

Page 342

OPINION AND ORDER

KENNETH M. KARAS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Pro se Plaintiff Sean Best (" Best" ) brings this Action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants New York City Department of Correction (" NYC DOC" ), Deputy Perez, Captain Merced, Warden George Okada (" Warden Okada" ), Captain Kurtaz, Captain A. Taylor (" Captain Taylor" ), " O'Connor," the City of New York (" the City" ), and two John Does violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Defendants the City, Captain Merced, O'Connor, and Warden Okada move to dismiss all claims that Plaintiff asserts against them. For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

A. Factual Background

The events giving rise to the instant Action began on March 5, 2009, at which time Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at the Metropolitan Detention Center (" MDC" ) in Brooklyn, New York. ( See Am. Compl. 2, 4.)[1] On that date, Plaintiff " received an

Page 343

infraction," ( id. at 4), which appears to have been based at least in part on allegations that he possessed drugs, ( see id. at 9 (" Based on the . . . denial of request to review physical evidence or photo copies of alleged illicit drugs . . . ." ); see also Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss Pl.'s Am. Compl. (" Pl.'s Opp'n" ) 6 (" Plaintiff was charged with possession of contraband marijuana . . . ." ).)

A hearing related to Plaintiff's infraction was held on March 10, 2009. ( See Am. Compl. at 4.) Plaintiff alleges that, at the hearing, Captain Taylor, who appears to have been the presiding officer, " failed to furnish [Plaintiff] with any physical evidence or any reports of the alleged contraband--no photo copies, no chain of custody, no drug test results . . . ." ( Id. at 7.) Plaintiff further alleges that Captain Taylor " failed [to provide Plaintiff with] the opportunity to call [his] witness . . . ." ( Id. at 7; see also id. at 9 (" Based on the denial of witnesses with no reason given . . . ." ).) Upon the hearing's conclusion, Plaintiff was told that he would receive a disposition within 72 hours. ( See id. at 4.) On the night of March 10, 2009, Plaintiff was " served with a disposition by Capt[ain] Kurtaz." ( Id.) When Plaintiff " looked at the disposition[, he] realized that there was no signature by an adjudicating capt[ain]." ( Id.) " In fact[,] half of the whole disposition was not filled out." ( Id.) Plaintiff alleges that the disposition was " not even clear on whether the charges were dismissed or not," or on " anything" at all. ( Id. at 8.) After explaining these deficiencies to Captain Kurtaz, Plaintiff " refused to sign for" the disposition, which he viewed as " invalid." ( Id. at 4.)

Following Plaintiff's receipt of the disposition, " [a]s a result of [the] infraction," he was " moved from [MDC] . .., which was easily accessible by his attorney and[/]or family, to [the George R. Vierno Center (" GRVC" ) on] Rikers Island . . . [,] which is located . . . several hours away from [Plaintiff's] family, friends, and his attorney." ( Id. at 12.) After he arrived at GRVC, Plaintiff alleges that he was " placed in punitive segregation . . . ." ( Id. at 2.) While in segregated housing, Plaintiff claims that he was " deprived of access to remedial programming," and " denied the ability to have in on trade and craft as a barber." ( Id. at 12.) Plaintiff further claims that he was denied " access to something so basically fundamental as hot water,

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each and every day at least once" ; that he was only provided with access to showers three times per week; and that he was only permitted " outside recreation in a one man cage" for " one hour a day at times where minimal sunlight [was] provided . . . ." ( Id.)

In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff does not allege for how long he remained in segregated housing. However, he does allege that he repeatedly challenged the validity of his disposition and resultant placement in segregated housing in communications with various MDC and GRVC officials and in New York state court, but to no avail. ( See id. at 4-5 (" I submitted an appeal to ADW O'Connor and Warden Okada at MDC as I was told to do. I received no response from them." ); id. at 5 (" I spoke to Capt[ain] Merced . . . and explained to him that I was illegally in [segregated housing]. I showed him the disposition. I also gave him a copy. He told me he gave it to his superior officer Dep. Perez. As soon as I was able to speak to Dep. Perez, I explained to him my contentions and gave him a copy personally . . . ." ); id. at 6 (" I continued to make the same contentions[] to Dep. Perez, the Warden of [GRVC], Capt[ain] Merced, and everyone who would listen." ); id. (" I finally made it to writ court. I was told the issue was unprecedented and my writ was dismissed. However it should be noted that it was never heard." ).) Plaintiff claims that he was not removed from segregated housing even though the officials with whom he communicated acknowledged that his placement there was illegal. ( See id. (" [T]hough all aforementioned parties knew I was held illegally[,] no one did anything about it." ); id. at 5 (" I asked [Dep. Perez] . . . why was I still in [segregated housing]? His exact words were[,] 'The Big Wigs [sic] downtown said it's better for you to have a lawsuit for being illegally confined, than for you to be released . . . .'" ).

Plaintiff alleges that, some time after he was placed in segregated housing, " while being transported to court, handcuffs [were] placed behind [Plaintiff's] back and [he was] placed in a cage with no seatbelt or a way to protect [himself] in case of a sudden stop or accident." ( Id. at 8.) Plaintiff also alleges that, " while riding[, he sat] on a slippery seat that cause[d] [him] to continuously slide." ( Id.) " On [his] way to court, the bus kept stopping short and [Plaintiff] continued to bump [his] head on the gate in front of [him]." ( Id.) Plaintiff " complained to the driver." ( Id.) After Plaintiff arrived at the courthouse, he " was tak[en] to [the medical center] at [MDC]," where " [his] injuries were assessed and an injury report was filed." ( Id.) Plaintiff claims that, as a result of the injuries that he sustained during this trip, " [his] neck and shoulders were injured," and that " [he has] to take medication for migraine headaches . . . ." ( Id. at 4.)

B. Procedural Background

On September 14, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Complaint. ( See Dkt. No. 1.) Plaintiff's case was assigned to this Court on November 7, 2012. ( See Dkt. No. 4.) On March 1, 2013, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. ( See Dkt. No. 15.) On May 24, 2013, Defendants Captain Merced, O'Connor, Warden Okada, and the City filed a Motion to Dismiss. ( See Dkt. No. 28.) In their accompanying Memorandum of Law, the moving Defendants note that their Motion to Dismiss is " not made on behalf of Defendants 'Dep. Perez,' 'Kurtaz,' 'DOC,' or 'A. Taylor' who have not been properly served." (Defs.' Mem. of Law in Supp. of Their Mot. to Dismiss Pl.'s Am. Compl.

Page 345

(" Defs.' Mem." ) 1 n.1.)[2] Plaintiff submitted his Opposition to Defendants' Motion on June 17, 2013, ( see Dkt. No. 32), in response to which Defendants submitted a Reply Memorandum of Law on August 1, 2013, ( see Dkt. No. 36), at which point Defendants' Motion was fully submitted.

II. Analysis

A. Standard of Review

Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. " While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (citations, internal quotation marks, and alterations omitted). Indeed, Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure " demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). " Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement." Id. (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted). Instead, a complaint's " [f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . ." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Although " once a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint," id. at 563, and a plaintiff must allege " only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," id. at 570, if a plaintiff has not " nudged [his or her] claim[] across the line from conceivable to plausible, the[] complaint must be dismissed," id.; see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (" Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. But where 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 'show[n]'--'that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" (citation omitted) (second alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2))); id. at 678-79 (" Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." ).

" [W]hen ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007); see also Nielsen v. Rabin, 746 F.3d 58, 2014 WL 552805, at *2 (2d Cir. Feb. 13, 2014) (" In addressing the sufficiency of a complaint we accept as true all factual allegations . . . ." ); Aegis Ins. Servs., Inc. v. 7 World Trade Co., L.P., 737 F.3d 166, 176 (2d Cir. 2013) (" In reviewing a dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), we . . . accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true . . . ." (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted)). Further, " [f]or the purpose of resolving [a] motion to dismiss, the Court . . . draw[s] all reasonable inferences in

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favor of the plaintiff." Daniel v. T& M Prot. Res., Inc., 992 F.Supp.2d 302, 2014 WL 182341, at *1 n.1 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 16, 2014) (citing Koch v. Christie's Int'l PLC, 699 F.3d 141, 145 (2d Cir. 2012)). Additionally, " [i]n ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion, . . . a court may consider the complaint[,] . . . any written instrument attached to the complaint as an exhibit[,] or any statements or documents incorporated in it by reference," as well as " matters of which judicial notice may be taken, and documents either in plaintiffs' possession or of which plaintiffs had knowledge and relied on in bringing suit." Kalyanaram v. Am. Ass'n of Univ. Professors at N.Y. Inst. of Tech., Inc., 742 F.3d 42, 44 n.1 (2d Cir. 2014) (citation, internal quotation marks, and some alterations omitted); see also Leonard F. v. Isr. Disc. Bank of N.Y., 199 F.3d 99, 107 (2d Cir. 1999) (" In adjudicating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a district court must confine its consideration to facts stated on the face of the complaint, in documents appended to the complaint or incorporated in the complaint by reference, and to matters of which judicial notice may be taken." (internal quotation marks omitted)); Hendrix v. City of New York, No. 12-CV-5011, 2013 WL 6835168, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 20, 2013) (same).

Because Plaintiff proceeds pro se, the Court must " construe[] [his complaint] liberally and interpret[] [it] to raise the strongest arguments that [it] suggest[s]." Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted). However, " the liberal treatment afforded to pro se litigants does not exempt a pro se party from compliance with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law." Bell v. Jendell, 980 F.Supp.2d 555, 2013 WL 5863561, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 31, 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Caidor v. Onondaga Cnty., 517 F.3d 601, 605 (2d Cir. 2008) (" [P]ro se litigants ...


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