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Phillip v. Schriro

United States District Court, S.D. New York

August 22, 2014

KEVIN PHILLIP, Plaintiff,
v.
DORA B. SCHRIRO, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Corrections, WARDEN CRIPPS and WARDEN RIVERA, of AMKC, NYC Department of Corrections, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

RONNIE ABRAMS, District Judge.

Plaintiff Kevin Phillip brings this action against now former New York Department of Correction Commissioner Dora B. Schriro and "Warden Cripps" and "Warden Rivera" of the Anna M. Kross Center ("AMKC") on Rikers Island. Plaintiff, who was previously incarcerated at AMKC but has since been transferred to a state correctional facility, asserts claims under the First Amendment. He alleges that he was prevented from attending Friday Islamic prayer services, called Jumu'ah, while being held in punitive segregation at AMKC. On July 31, 2013, the Court granted the first motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint without prejudice.[1] After Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint, Defendants again moved to dismiss. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges that he was sentenced to punitive segregation at AMKC on two different occasions and that he was denied the right to attend Jumu'ah services during these periods. For purposes of this motion, the Court accepts as true all facts alleged by Plaintiff. See Kassner v. 2nd Ave. Delicatessen Inc. , 496 F.3d 229, 237 (2d Cir. 2007). The Court considers the allegations in the Amended Complaint, as well as documents attached to it or incorporated by reference, including the letters and grievance records submitted as exhibits by Plaintiff. See Newman & Schwartz v. Asplundh Tree Expert Co., Inc. , 102 F.3d 660, 662 (2d Cir. 1996).

First Period of Punitive Segregation

Plaintiff was first placed in a punitive segregation unit for thirty-six days on November 22, 2011. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 8, 12, 28.) He asserts that he asked the housing unit officer on Friday November 26, 2011[2] and Friday December 2, 2011 if he could attend Jumu'ah services, but each time the officer told him that he was not allowed to attend while he was in punitive segregation, ( Id. ¶ 13.)

Plaintiff submitted a grievance on December 3, 2011 and sent a letter to Commissioner Schriro on December 9, 2011. ( Id. ¶¶ 14, 18, Exs. A, C.) Commissioner Schriro forwarded Plaintiff's letter "to the appropriate unit for investigation." ( Id. ¶¶ 21-22, Ex. D.) In response to his grievance, a grievance representative notified Plaintiff in writing on December 12, 2011 that "due to his BING Housing classification he is allowed to attend Jumu[']ah with general services." ( Id. ¶ 15, Ex. B.) According to Plaintiff, Warden Cripps and Warden Rivera "were contacted by [a grievance representative] concerning the alleged violation of Plaintiff's religious rights and stated a resolution to correct the violation." ( Id. ¶ 16, Ex. B.) They were also "informed of Plaintiff's allegation[]s of religious violations by [Commissioner Schriro]." ( Id. ¶ 24.) On December 22, 2011, "Inspector Johnson from the Commissioner's office" and a grievance representative visited Plaintiff and told him that "arrangements were being made for inmates to observe religious services in the segregation day-room." ( Id. ¶ 23.)

According to Plaintiff, however, he continued to be denied the opportunity to attend Jumu'ah services throughout the rest of his term in punitive segregation. ( Id. ¶¶ 17, 20, 25.) As a result, Plaintiff missed Jumu'ah services on the following dates: November 26, 2011, December 2, 2011, December 9, 2011, December 16, 2011, and December 23, 2011. ( Id. ¶¶ 13, 17, 20, 25.) On December 23, 2011, Plaintiff sent a second letter to Commissioner Schriro and filed a second grievance. ( Id. ¶¶ 26-27, Exs. E, F.) On January 25, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Claim with the Comptroller of the City of New York asserting a violation of his religious rights. ( Id. ¶ 29, Ex. G.)[3]

Second Period of Punitive Segregation

Plaintiff was again placed in punitive segregation on or about April 2, 2012 for forty-five days. ( Id. ¶¶ 30, 37.) He alleges that, on April 6th and 13th, he again asked the housing unit officer if he could attend Jumu'ah services and was again told he could not. ( Id. ¶ 31.)

Plaintiff filed a third grievance on April 17, 2012 and sent a third letter to Commissioner Schriro on April 23, 2012. ( Id. ¶¶ 32, 34, Exs. H, I.) An AMKC Captain and "Mr. Durisch from the NYC Dept. of Corrections" visited Plaintiff on May 4, 2012 to ask if he was still being denied the right to attend religious services. ( Id. ¶ 36.) Plaintiff said that he was, and also told them about the denials of the previous November and December. (Id.)

During Plaintiff's second period in punitive segregation, he asserts that he was prevented from attending Jumu'ah services on five Fridays: April 6, 2012, April 13, 2012, April 20, 2012, April 27, 2012, and May 4, 2012. ( Id. ¶¶ 31, 33, 35-36.)

On May 26, 2012, Plaintiff sent a third letter to Commissioner Schriro describing these events. ( Id. ¶ 38, Ex. J.) In this letter, Plaintiff reviews all of the occasions on which he was allegedly denied the right to attend Jumu'ah services. ( Id. ¶ Ex. J.) He also asserts that he is being harassed. ( Id. at 4.) The letter claims that Plaintiff was "transferred [from] one punitive segregation unit to another... with only seven days left on [his] sentence" and that this was "obvious harassment." (Id.) It also asserts that Plaintiff was sentenced to punitive segregation for only forty days, but that he was kept in punitive segregation an additional five days as a "reprisal[] because of his complaints" about Jumu'ah services. ( Id. at 5.)

Plaintiff seeks punitive and compensatory damages and a "declaration that the acts and [omissions] described... violate his rights under the Constitution and ...


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