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Mena v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

September 18, 2014

CITY OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants.

Plaintiff is proceeding pro se.

Defendants are represented by Omar Javed Siddiqi and Ryan Glenn Shaffer, New York City Law Department, New York.


RICHARD J. SULLIVAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jonathan Mena, who is currently incarcerated and proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of New York and Correction Officers Sauda Abdul-Malik ("Abdul-Malik"), Benjamin Eason ("Eason"), and Jaquon Pickwood ("Pickwood, " and together with the City of New York, Abdul-Malik, and Eason, "Defendants") alleging violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Now before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss this action in its entirety pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.


A. Facts

The incidents giving rise to this case occurred while Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Otis Bantum Correctional Center ("O.B.C.C.") on Rikers Island. (Std. Form. Compl. at 2.)[1] Plaintiff alleges that, on September 9, 2012, he engaged in a verbal argument with Abdul-Malik, for which he was given a disciplinary infraction, and was thereafter placed in pre-hearing detention. (Addendum at 1.) According to Plaintiff, at the "[m]alicious[]" request of Abdul-Malik, Eason kept Plaintiff in an undersized cell in the O.B.C.C. intake area instead of transferring him to the "Mhauii" building to serve his pre-hearing detention. ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleges that he was held in the cell for "almost 60 hours without being able to take a shower, brush [his] teeth, change [his] clothes[, ] or use the [telep]hone." (Id.) Plaintiff also asserts that Eason "deprived" Plaintiff of prescribed pain medication ( i.e. , ibuprofen), apparently necessitated by the manner in which he had been handcuffed after his argument with Abdul-Malik. (Opp'n at 3-4; see also id. Ex. B at 2.)

With respect to the conditions of the intake cell, Plaintiff asserts that he shared with two other individuals a cell that was "very small" and "not capable [of] fit[ting] more than 1 individual." ( See Std. Form Compl. at 5.) Plaintiff further alleges that "[t]hese 2 individuals were continuously making noise throughout the whole time [in] which [he] was there with them" and that the correction officers "had [the three cell mates] sleeping on a very cold floor which did not allow any of [them] to fall asleep for the whole entire time that [they] were there." ( See Addendum at 1.) In addition to the cell floor -on which he was "forced to [lie]" -being "very cold" ( see Std. Form Compl. at 5), the cell itself was "very, very cold" and infested with cockroaches and mice ( see Opp'n at 3). With respect to his two cell mates, Plaintiff also alleges that these individuals, who were under mental observation, "were constantly yelling [and] screaming" ( see Opp'n at 2) and "kept doing crazy things like argu[ing] with each other and putting their heads inside of the toilet bowl" ( see Std. Form Compl. at 5). Plaintiff alleges that he feared for his life "because it was just very clear that the 2 other individuals were not in their right mind..., so [he] was also very afraid to close [his] eyes [and] take a short nap because [he] just didn't feel safe." (Addendum at 1.)

Plaintiff alleges that on September 10, 2012, while he was detained in the intake cell, he asked Eason "to please let us all out of such [a] tiny cell because it was just very frustrating to be in there with 2 other individuals, and we simply d[o] not fit." ( Id. ) In response, Eason stated: "Sorry Man, there's just nothing that I could do about that." ( Id. ) Plaintiff asserts that this incident "forced [him] to fall under a very high state of depression...." (Std. Form Compl. at 5.)

Plaintiff alleges that on September 12, 2012, he obtained a copy of the disciplinary charges filed against him by Abdul-Malik for the September 9 incident. ( See Addendum at 2; see also Compl. Ex. A.) The charges included (1) refusal to obey a direct order, (2) disorderly conduct, (3) disrespect for staff, and (4) assault and fighting with staff. ( See Addendum at 2.) Plaintiff takes issue with all four charges but alleges that the fourth charge is particularly false and malicious. ( See id.) Specifically, Plaintiff challenges the assertion attributed to Pickwood that Pickwood observed Plaintiff physically resisting and throwing his body against Abdul-Malik. ( See id. ; see also Compl. Ex. A.) Plaintiff alleges that a security camera recording reflects that he did not physically assault Abdul-Malik in any way. ( See Addendum at 2-3.) In addition, Plaintiff claims that Abdul-Malik underwent a fake medical examination to further incriminate Plaintiff and increase Plaintiff's time in solitary confinement. ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleges that he was cleared of the false' assault" charge against him ( see id. at 3), but still spent fifty-one days in solitary confinement from September 11, 2012 to October 31, 2012 (Std. Form Compl. at 3). Plaintiff also asserts that, during this period of solitary confinement, Plaintiff was prevented from seeing the prison's mental health staff. ( Id. )

B. Procedural History

On April 11, 2013, Plaintiff commenced this action by filing a complaint against the Defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, asserting violations of his constitutional rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. ( See Compl.) On December 9, 2013, Defendants filed the instant motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. Nos. 18-19, ("Mem.").) On January 7, 2014, Plaintiff filed his opposition to the motion. (Opp'n.) On February 4, 2014, Defendants filed a reply memorandum in support of their motion to dismiss. (Doc. No. 24, ("Reply").)


A. Motion to Dismiss

To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must "provide the grounds upon which [the] claim rests." ATSI Commc'ns, Inc. v. Shaar Fund, Ltd., 493 F.3d 87, 98 (2d Cir. 2007); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) ("A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain... a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief...."). To meet this standard, plaintiffs must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. ATSI Commc'ns, 493 F.3d at 98. However, that tenet "is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Thus, a pleading that offers only "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. If the plaintiff "ha[s] not nudged [its] ...

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