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Cano v. City of New York

United States District Court, E.D. New York

September 12, 2014

GERMAIN CANO, ERIC CEPHUS, KEVIN DARNELL, PETER EPPEL, MICHAEL GLENN, DEBORAH GONZALEZ, TRAVIS GORDON, JACQUELINE GUARINO, KEITH JENNINGS, WESLEY JONES, GREGORY MAUGERI, MICHAEL MCGHEE, DMITRIY MILOSLAVSKIY, YVONNE MIND, STEVEN MODES, KERRY SCOTT, PHILLIP SINGLETON, MICHAEL SPALANGO, RAYMOND TUCKER, NANCY VIGLIONE, ELLI VIKKI, individually and on behalf of a class of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, POLICE COMMISSIONER RAYMOND KELLY, DEPUTY COMMISSIONERS JOHN DOES 1-5 (representing the Deputy Commissioners who supervised the operation of Brooklyn Central Booking from June 12, 2010 to the present), POLICE OFFICERS JOHN DOES 1-5 (representing the commanding officers of Brooklyn Central Booking from June 12, 2010 to the present), Defendants

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For Germain Cano, Kevin Darnell, Peter Eppel, Michael Glenn, Travis Gordan, Jacqueline Guarino, Wesley Jones, Gregory Maugeri, Michael McGhee, Dmitriy Miloslavskiy, Steven Modes, Kerry Scott, Michael Spalango, Raymond Tucker, Nancy Viglione, Elli Vikki, individually and on behalf of a class of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs: Andrew S. Rendeiro, LEAD ATTORNEY: Flamhaft, Levy, Kamins Hirsch, BROOKLYN, NY; Michael O. Hueston, LEAD ATTORNEY, Brooklyn, NY; Richard J. Cardinale, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Law Firm of Richard J. Cardinale, Brooklyn, NY.

For Yvonne Mind, Phillip Singleton, Keith Jennings, Eric Cephus, Deborah Gonzalez, Plaintiffs: Richard J. Cardinale, The Law Firm of Richard J. Cardinale, Brooklyn, NY.

For City of New York, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Kenneth Kobetitsch, Defendants: Mark Galen Toews, LEAD ATTORNEY, New York City Law Department, New York, NY; Elizabeth Edmonds, NYC Law Department, New York, NY.

For Deputy Commissioners John Does 1-5, representing the Deputy Commissioners who supervised the operation of Brooklyn Central Booking from June 12, 2010 to the present), Police Officers John Does 1-5, representing the commanding officers of Brooklyn Central Booking from June 12, 2010 to the present), Rafael Pineiro, William Tobin, Defendants: Mark Galen Toews, LEAD ATTORNEY, New York City Law Department, New York, NY.

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DECISION AND ORDER

HON. WILLIAM F. KUNTZ, II, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Plaintiffs bring this action seeking compensatory damages for the allegedly inhumane prison conditions they endured while detained at Brooklyn Central Booking (" BCB" ). Plaintiffs spent ten to twenty-four hours at BCB between their arrests and arraignments. During this time, Plaintiffs were allegedly subjected to overcrowding; sleep deprivation; inadequate/unsanitary toilets; denial of access to toiletries, toilet paper, and other hygienic materials; inadequate water and meals; extreme temperatures; inadequate ventilation; unsanitary conditions; infestation, unchecked crime; and a substantial risk of physical and medical harm. As Plaintiffs were pretrial detainees, they could not constitutionally be punished--neither cruel and unusually nor otherwise. Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants were deliberately

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indifferent to a serious risk of harm facing detainees at BCB in violation of their rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Defendants now move to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons below, Defendants' motion is denied.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs are twenty-one individuals who were detained at BCB between their arrests and arraignments for a single ten to twenty-four hour period since June 12, 2010.[1] Dkt. 10 (Second Amended Complaint (" Compl." )), ¶ ¶ 1, 5, 6, 19. Defendants are the City of New York, (now former) New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Rafael Pineiro, NYPD Captain Kenneth Kobetitsch, and NYPD Captain William Tobin. Defendant Kelly was the Commissioner of the NYPD from 1992 to 1994 and from January 2002 until 2013. Compl. ¶ 8. Defendant Pineiro is the current First Deputy Commissioner of the NYPD and was the supervisor of BCB operations from June 12, 2010 until, at least, the filing of this action. Compl. ¶ 9. Defendants Kobetitsch and Tobin were the commanding officers of BCB from June 12, 2010 until, at least, the filing of this action. Compl. ¶ 10. Plaintiffs have alleged that all individual Defendants were acting under the color of state law and in their capacities as NYPD officials during the events in question. Compl. ¶ ¶ 8-10. Plaintiffs have sued all individual Defendants in both their individual and official capacities. Id.

Plaintiffs allege that while they were incarcerated at BCB, they were housed in cells that exposed and subjected them to a number of allegedly unconstitutional conditions. In particular, Plaintiffs allege the conditions at BCB were as follows:

o Overcrowding - Plaintiffs were held in jail cells with " numerous detainees in close proximity to one another . . . exacerbated by the loud noise, unsanitary conditions, lack of sleeping space and extreme temperatures[.]" Compl. ¶ 22.
o Deprivation of Sleep - Plaintiffs were held overnight and prevented from sleeping because they were not provided with any sleeping equipment[2]--including beds, cots, pillows, blankets, or bedding. Further, the lights were kept on at all times. Compl. ¶ 23.
o Unusable Toilets - The cells, which were already overcrowded, only contained one toilet per cell. That toilet was covered with feces, urine and/or vomit, lacked a toilet seat, was often clogged or backed-up, and lacked privacy partitions. Plaintiffs were typically provided with no toilet paper and, if a roll of toilet paper was provided, it was quickly extinguished. Compl. ¶ 24.
o Extreme Temperatures and Poor Ventilation - " Plaintiffs were subjected to extremely cold or hot temperatures, or both, and shivered and/or sweated profusely while in the unventilated cells in the facility." Compl. ¶ 25.

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o Sanitation and Garbage - " Plaintiffs were held in cells in which there was garbage strewn over the floor as well as urine, feces and/or vomit splattered in sections of the floor." Compl. ¶ 26.
o Infestation - The cells were infested with rodents and/or insects. Compl. ¶ 27.
o Crime - " Plaintiffs were held in cells which were largely unsupervised and where the guards look[ed] the other way at fights, thefts and bullying. Violent criminals charged with such crimes as murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and rape [were] held in the same cells as alleged minor offenders and these criminals often dominate[d] the other detainees and control[ed] what occur[ed] in the cells." Compl. ¶ 28.
o Lack of Toiletries and Other Hygienic Items : Plaintiffs were deprived of soap, tissues, clean water, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and toilet paper. Compl. ¶ 29.
o Inadequate Water and Meals : " Plaintiffs were not provided fresh, clean drinking water or adequate food." Plaintiffs were fed " one stale peanut butter and jelly or bologna sandwich, a carton of warm milk or juice and/or a small box of cereal, but were not given plastic utensils, paper plates or bowls, or napkins." Furthermore, Plaintiffs contend they could not consume the food because, compounded with the unusable toilets and lack of toilet paper described above, it was impossible for them to urinate or defecate. Compl. ¶ 30.

Plaintiffs allege that these conditions created a substantial risk of illness and physical harm. Compl. ¶ 31. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that " (a) being in close proximity to numerous other detainees in overcrowded cells; (b) being exposed to insects and rodents, extreme temperatures, and unsanitary conditions including garbage, feces, urine and vomit; (c) being deprived of sleep, rest, adequate food, water, and the opportunity to clean themselves or wash their hands; and (d) being denied security and protection from other inmates by the municipal personnel employed" at BCB led to a substantial risk of harm or illness. Id. Additionally, Plaintiffs allege that when they would request medical treatment, the emergency medical technicians (" EMTs" ), pursuant to a city policy, practice, or custom, dissuaded detainees from obtaining medical treatment by claiming that treatment would cause significant delays in the detainee being brought before a judge and potentially being released. Id.

Plaintiffs allege that Defendants, along with other New York City policymakers and supervisory personnel, have been aware of the unconstitutional conditions at the BCB since at least June 12, 2010. Compl. ¶ 32. Defendants were purportedly aware of the conditions from: their direct participation in the operation of the facility; their own observations; internal reports by municipal officials and employees; conversations with other municipal officials and employees; external reports and complaints ( i.e. complaints from the Correctional Association of New York, the Legal Aid Society ...


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