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Cruz v. New York

United States District Court, W.D. New York

June 6, 2014

EDWIN CRUZ, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants

Page 300

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 301

Edwin Cruz, Plaintiff, Pro se, Stormville, NY.

For State of New York, Brian Fischer, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Corrections, Thomas Griffin, Superintendent, Southport Correctional Facility, M. Sheehan, Deputy Superintendent of Security, Southport Correctional Facility, Correctional Officer S. Waters, Corrections Officer, Southport Correctional Facility, C. Clark, Corrections Officer, Southport Correctional Facility, Defendants: Bernard F. Sheehan, LEAD ATTORNEY, N.Y.S. Attorney General's Office, Department of Law, Rochester, NY.

OPINION

Page 302

DECISION AND ORDER

ELIZABETH A. WOLFORD, United States District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Pro se Plaintiff, an inmate at Southport Correctional Facility (" SCF" ), brings this action against the State of New York and Department of Corrections (" DOC" ) officials pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of the Eighth Amendment and New York State law. (Dkt. 1). Specifically, Plaintiff asserts the following causes of action: (1) a first cause of action against the individual correction officer defendants, S. Waters and C. Clark, alleging violations of the Eighth Amendment; (2) a second cause of action against the State of New York and the " Supervisory Defendants" (New York State DOC Commissioner Brian Fischer, DOC Superintendent Thomas Griffin, and DOC Deputy Superintendent of Security M. Sheahan), also alleging violations of the Eighth Amendment; (3) a third cause of action for assault and battery against the individual correction officer defendants S. Waters and C. Clark, and against New York State based on the doctrine of respondeat superior, and (4) a fourth cause of action for " negligent hiring/training/retention" against the State of New York and the Supervisory Defendants. (Dkt. 1).

Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint in part pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (Dkt. 14). Defendants move to dismiss all causes of action except for the first cause of action against the individual correction officer defendants. (Dkt. 1 & 14). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's second cause of action for violation of the Eighth Amendment is dismissed as to Defendants New York State and Brian Fischer in his official capacity. Plaintiff's third cause of action for assault and battery and his fourth cause of action for negligent hiring, training, and retention also are dismissed. However, Defendants' motion is denied to the extent it seeks dismissal of Plaintiff's second cause of action against Brian Fischer in his individual capacity, as well as Thomas Griffin and M. Sheahan.

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BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges that, on September 17, 2011, he was housed in the Special Housing Unit (" SHU" ) at SCF. (Dkt. 1 at ¶ ¶ 1, 19-20). At approximately 7:40 a.m. on that day, Plaintiff was preparing for recreation in B-block and had mechanical restraints applied to his wrists. ( Id. at ¶ 20). After Plaintiff was handcuffed and shackled, Correction Officer defendant S. Waters (" Officer Waters" ) allegedly " forcefully struck" Plaintiff in the head from behind, causing Plaintiff to collapse to the ground. ( Id. at ¶ 21). While Plaintiff was lying on the ground, Officer Waters and Corrections Officer defendant C. Clark (" Officer Clark" ) allegedly kicked Plaintiff in the ribs, face, head, back, legs, arms and torso. ( Id.). Plaintiff alleges that he vomited three times during the " examination" after the beating and suffered visible injuries to his head, face, and back. ( Id. at ¶ 22). Plaintiff was transferred via ambulance to Arnot Ogden Medical Emergency where he was diagnosed with a facial contusion, head injury, bruised ribs, facial swelling, and abrasions and bruises on his back, head, and body. ( Id.). Plaintiff alleges that he continues to suffer physical and emotional injuries as a result of the assault by Officers Waters and Clark. ( Id. at ¶ 23).

Plaintiff filed his complaint on January 28, 2013, alleging violations against the State of New York; former Commissioner of the New York State DOC, Brian Fischer, in his individual and official capacity; former Superintendent of SCF, Thomas Griffin, in his individual capacity; former Deputy Superintendent of Security at SCF, M. Sheahan, in his individual capacity; Officer Waters, in his individual capacity; and Officer Clark, in his individual capacity. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 9-14).[1] The complaint alleges four causes of action, including a first cause of action for violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 pursuant to the Eighth Amendment against Officers Waters and Clark; a second cause of action for violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 pursuant to the the Eighth Amendment against the Supervisory Defendants (Brian Fischer, Thomas Griffin, and M. Sheahan); a third cause of action for assault and battery against Officers Waters and Clark and against Defendant New York State under the doctrine of respondeat superior ; and a fourth cause of action for negligent hiring, training, and retention against New York State and the Supervisory Defendants. ( Id. at 9-13).

Plaintiff's basis for his claims against the State of New York and the Supervisory Defendants is that they, in their supervisory capacities, are responsible for promulgating, implementing, and overseeing policies relating to the conduct of DOC personnel and overseeing the implementation of security cameras at SCF. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 9-12). Plaintiff further alleges that New York State and the Supervisory Defendants " tolerated and were deliberately indifferent to a pattern and practice of staff brutality and retaliation. . . ." ( Id. at ¶ 30). Plaintiff alleges that the State and Supervisory Defendants were aware of corrections officers' use of excessive force against inmates through DOC's " elaborate reporting system" and through complaints to the Commissioner, grievances, the inspector general, and department reports. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 15-18).

Plaintiff submitted a motion to amend his complaint on November 15, 2013, and the motion was filed on December 3, 2013. (Dkt. 13). Defendants filed this motion to dismiss the complaint in part on December 3, 2013. (Dkt. 14). United States District

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Judge Charles J. Siragusa initially denied Plaintiff's motion to amend because Plaintiff failed to submit a proposed amended complaint. (Dkt. 16). Judge Siragusa subsequently converted Plaintiff's motion, which was filed before Defendants filed their motion to dismiss, to a motion to extend the time for filing an amended complaint as of right under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15, and extended Plaintiff's time to file an amended complaint to February 3, 2014. (Dkt. 18). Plaintiff never filed an amended complaint but instead moved for a default judgment as to Defendants Clark and Waters. (Dkt. 24). Plaintiff's motion for a default judgment was denied because Defendants Clark and Waters had moved to dismiss the complaint on December 3, 2013, which was prior to the time their answers were due on December 10 and 11, 2013. (Dkt. 25).

Defendants seek dismissal on the following grounds: (1) Plaintiff's second, third, and fourth claims against Defendants New York State and Brian Fischer, in his official capacity, should be dismissed; (2) Plaintiff's second cause of action against the Supervisory Defendants pursuant to the Eighth Amendment should be dismissed because Plaintiff failed to allege facts supporting deliberate indifference; (3) Plaintiff's second cause of action against the Supervisory Defendants pursuant to the Eighth Amendment should be dismissed because Plaintiff failed to allege facts supporting personal involvement by the Supervisory Defendants; (4) Plaintiff's third cause of action for assault and battery should be dismissed; and (5) Plaintiff's fourth cause of action for negligent hiring, training, and retention should be dismissed. (Dkt. 14). Defendants did not move for dismissal of Plaintiff's first cause of action alleging Eighth Amendment claims against correction officers Waters and Clark. Plaintiff submitted a response on January 2, 2014, contesting the timeliness of the answers filed by Defendants Waters and Clark, and also arguing that Defendants' motion to dismiss " be mooted for noncompliance with local civil rule 12.1." (Dkt. 22).

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Standard

'" In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a district court must limit itself to facts stated in the complaint or in documents attached to the complaint as exhibits or incorporated in the complaint by reference.'" Newman & Schwartz v. Asplundh Tree Expert Co., 102 F.3d 660, 662 (2d Cir. 1996) (quoting Kramer v. Time Warner, Inc., 937 F.2d 767, 773 (2d Cir. 1991)). A court should consider the motion " accepting all factual allegations in the complaint and drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor." Ruotolo v. City of New York, 514 F.3d 184, 188 (2d Cir. 2008) (internal quotations and citation omitted). To withstand dismissal, a plaintiff must set forth " enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). " 'A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'" Turkmen v. Ashcroft, 589 F.3d 542, 546 (2d Cir. 2009) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)).

" 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 entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, ...


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