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Hurst v. Searles

United States District Court, N.D. New York

July 29, 2014

GERALD L. HURST, Plaintiff,
MR. SEARLES, Lieutenant, F.C.I. Ray Brook, MR. DEGON, Lieutenant, F.C.I. Ray Brook, MR. HALLADAY, Correctional Officer, F.C.I. Ray Brook, MR. GODFREY, Correctional Officer, F.C.I. Ray Brook, MR. HUMPHRIES, Correctional Officer, F.C.I. Ray Brook, Defendants.

GERALD L. HURST, Plaintiff, Pro Se, Cumberland Federal Correctional Institution Inmate Mail/Parcels, Cumberland, MD.

THE HON. RICHARD S. HARTUNIAN, United States Attorney of the Northern District of New York, CHARLES E. ROBERTS, Assistant United States Attorney, Syracuse, NY, Attorney for Defendants.


RANDOLPH F. TREECE, Magistrate Judge.

Pro se Plaintiff Gerald Hurst brings this Complaint alleging that Defendants, employees at Federal Correctional Institute ("FCI") Raybrook, violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to protect him from another inmate and confining him to a dry cell for seven days. See generally Dkt. No. 1, Compl. Defendants now move for summary judgment.[1] Dkt. No. 25. Plaintiff opposes the Motion. Dkt. No. 29, Pl.'s Opp'n. Defendants have replied to Plaintiff's Opposition. Dkt. No. 30, Defs.' Reply. For the reasons that follow, we recommend that Defendants' Motion be GRANTED and the instant action be DISMISSED.


Pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a), summary judgment is appropriate only where "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." The moving party bears the burden to demonstrate through "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with [ ] affidavits, if any, " that there is no genuine issue of material fact. F.D.I.C. v. Giammettei, 34 F.3d 51, 54 (2d Cir. 1994) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). "When a party has moved for summary judgment on the basis of asserted facts supported as required by [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e)] and has, in accordance with local court rules, served a concise statement of the material facts as to which it contends there exist no genuine issues to be tried, those facts will be deemed admitted unless properly controverted by the nonmoving party." Glazer v. Formica Corp., 964 F.2d 149, 154 (2d Cir. 1992).

To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the non-movant must set out specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial, and cannot rest merely on allegations or denials of the facts submitted by the movant. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); see also Scott v. Coughlin, 344 F.3d 282, 287 (2d Cir. 2003) ("Conclusory allegations or denials are ordinarily not sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment when the moving party has set out a documentary case."); Rexnord Holdings, Inc. v. Bidermann, 21 F.3d 522, 525-26 (2d Cir. 1994). To that end, sworn statements are "more than mere conclusory allegations subject to disregard... they are specific and detailed allegations of fact, made under penalty of perjury, and should be treated as evidence in deciding a summary judgment motion" and the credibility of such statements is better left to a trier of fact. Scott v. Coughlin, 344 F.3d at 289 (citing Flaherty v. Coughlin, 713 F.2d 10, 13 (2d Cir. 1983) and Colon v. Coughlin, 58 F.3d 865, 872 (2d Cir. 1995)).

When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant. Nora Beverages, Inc. v. Perrier Group of Am., Inc., 164 F.3d 736, 742 (2d Cir. 1998). "[T]he trial court's task at the summary judgment motion stage of the litigation is carefully limited to discerning whether there are any genuine issues of material fact to be tried, not to deciding them. Its duty, in short, is confined at this point to issue-finding; it does not extend to issue-resolution." Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., Ltd. P'ship, 22 F.3d 1219, 1224 (2d Cir. 1994). Furthermore, where a party is proceeding pro se, the court must "read [his or her] supporting papers liberally, and... interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994), accord, Soto v. Walker, 44 F.3d 169, 173 (2d Cir. 1995). Nonetheless, mere conclusory allegations, unsupported by the record, are insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. See Carey v. Crescenzi, 923 F.2d 18, 21 (2d Cir. 1991).


A. Summary of Facts

The following facts are undisputed.

Plaintiff was housed at FCI Raybrook between April 29, 2011 and January 27, 2012. Dkt. No. 25-2 through 25-4, Cheryl Magnusson Decl., dated Feb. 19, 2014, at ¶ 5 & Ex. C, Inmate Admission/Release History.

On July 16, 2011, Plaintiff was placed in a dry cell[2] by Defendant Searles, pending investigation of his suspected introduction of contraband into the facility. Id. at ¶ 21 & Ex. I, Lt-Mem., dated July 16, 2011; Compl. at p. 3.[3] Plaintiff remained in the dry cell until Defendant Searles removed him on July 21, 2011. Magnusson Decl. at ¶ 22 & Ex. H, Pl.'s Housing Quarters R.; Compl. at p. 3. Plaintiff never grieved this issue while at FCI Raybrook. Magnusson Decl. at ¶ 10 & Ex. D, Pl.'s Grievance History R.

On July 26, 2011, Plaintiff was sentenced to serve fifteen days in disciplinary segregation ("DS"), following a disciplinary hearing in an unrelated matter. Id. at ¶ 23 & Ex. K, Pl.'s Disciplinary R. Plaintiff remained in DS, in cell 210, through August 10, 2011. Id. at ¶ 23 & Ex. H, Pl.'s Housing Quarters R. On August 10, Plaintiff's status was changed from DS to administrative detention ("AD"), however, he remained in cell 210 for an additional seven days. Id. at ¶ 23 & Ex. H. On August 16, Plaintiff was involved in a fight with his cellmate. Id. at ¶ 24 & Ex. L, Incident Rep., dated Aug. 16, 2011. Plaintiff shared cell 210 with the ...

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