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Blake v. Kelly

United States District Court, S.D. New York

August 26, 2014

CHARLES BLAKE, Plaintiff,
v.
RAYMOND KELLY, Commissioner, New York City Police Department, ISRAEL SEXTON, Sergeant, New York City Police Department, and THE CITY OF NEW YORK, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

EDGARDO RAMOS, District Judge.

Pro se Plaintiff Charles Blake (the "Plaintiff") brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against former New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly ("Kelly"), Sergeant Israel Sexton ("Sexton"), and the City of New York (the "City, " and together with Kelly and Sexton, the "Defendants"). The Plaintiff alleges that he was assaulted and injured while awaiting arraignment in the holding cell of the New York State Supreme Court, Kings County. Am. Compl. 1-6, Doc. 18.

Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss the Complaint under Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Doc. 33. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion to dismiss is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

I. Factual Background

The following facts are based on the allegations in the Amended Complaint, which the Court accepts as true for purposes of the instant motion. See, e.g., Walker v. Schult, 717 F.3d 119, 124 (2d Cir. 2013).

On August 26, 2010 Plaintiff was held as a pretrial detainee at the Brooklyn County Court's Central Booking Detention Holding Facility in Brooklyn, New York. Am. Compl. 3.[1] Overcrowding forced multiple detainees, including Plaintiff, to sit or lie on the floor, rather than in seats, within the holding cell. Id. Detainees made several complaints to the holding cell officers regarding the overcrowding and shortage of seats. Id. At 6:45 p.m., approximately fifteen detainees left the holding cell to receive their dinner. Id. Plaintiff sat in a seat that opened up as a result. Id. One of the detainees returned to find Plaintiff sitting in the seat and demanded that he move. Id. at 4. When Plaintiff refused, the detainee began to physically assault Plaintiff. Id. A second detainee then joined Plaintiff's assailant, and started to severely beat Plaintiff. Id.

Because the detainee holding cell was left unmonitored, Plaintiff was subjected to beatings for ten minutes before the first officer-Sergeant Sexton-arrived. Id. Initially, Sexton verbally demanded that the assailants stop beating Plaintiff, but Sexton "did not physically intercede to prevent further physical abuse upon [Plaintiff]." Id. After his verbal demands failed, Sexton went to seek assistance. Id. Sexton then returned approximately five minutes later with two other officers who helped break up the altercation. Id. After Sexton observed that Plaintiff had facial swelling, "defensive cuts" to his back, and a potentially fractured right ankle, he sent for emergency medical personnel; they arrived approximately fifteen minutes later. Id. Staff then transported Plaintiff to Kings County Hospital. Id.

Plaintiff claims that, as a result of Defendants' actions, he suffered serious injuries, including: closed dislocation of his right ankle, a right ankle fracture, blunt trauma, facial lacerations, severe headaches, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, depression and mental anguish. Id. at 6. Plaintiff attached to his Amended Complaint various medical records, designated as Exhibit A, [2] which corroborate the allegations that he suffered a long-term or permanent physical injury. Plaintiff underwent two surgical operations on his right ankle, and was referred to physical therapy afterwards. Am. Compl. Ex. A. The records provided also indicate that Plaintiff may need further surgical work done in the future. Id. Plaintiff claims he is unable to stand for long periods of time, cannot run and is unable to climb stairs without holding on to a rail for support. Id. at 6.

Plaintiff alleges that the conditions of his confinement on August 26, 2010 violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment on several grounds. Id. at 5. First, Plaintiff asserts that the Defendants' deliberate indifference to the conditions of his confinement violated his civil rights. Id. The overcrowding in the holding cell caused excessive noise and anxiety, and ultimately created an unsupervised "den of violence." Id. Plaintiff also asserts that Sexton failed to exercise adequate care for Plaintiff's safety by failing to prevent reasonably foreseeable physical abuse. Id. at 4. Lastly, Plaintiff claims that Defendants deliberately and negligently exceeded the design capacity requirements for the holding cell. Id. at 5. Accordingly, Plaintiff seeks a total $10, 000, 000 judgment against the Defendants jointly and severally. Id. at 9.

A. Procedural History

On September 24, 2012, Plaintiff commenced this action by filing the Complaint. Compl., Doc. 3. The Complaint included Commissioner Kelly and a John Doe Defendant. Id. Given Plaintiff's pro se status, the Court directed the Clerk of the Court to amend the caption of this action to include Defendant New York City and ordered the New York City Law Department to provide the identity and service address of the John Doe Defendant. Doc. 7. On February 22, 2012, the New York City Law Department ascertained the identity of the John Doe Defendant to be Sergeant Sexton. Doc. 12. Plaintiff then filed an Amended Complaint against Defendants on April 10, 2013. Doc. 18. The case was transferred to the undersigned from the Honorable Judge Colleen McMahon on July 17, 2013.

Defendants construe Plaintiff's Amended Complaint as raising claims under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment for deliberate indifference to his safety and conditions of confinement. Through the instant motion, Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiff's claims on the grounds that Plaintiff (1) fails to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate indifference against Sexton; and (2) fails to allege personal involvement by Kelly in a constitutional violation. Defs.' Mem. 1, 6, Doc. 35. On May 28, 2014, Plaintiff filed his memorandum of law in opposition to Defendants' motion. Pl.'s Opp., Doc. 38. Rather than file a reply brief, on June 9, 2014, Defendants submitted a letter to the Court indicating their intention to rely on the arguments set forth in their opening papers.[3]

II. Discussion

A. Legal ...


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