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Laporte v. Keyser

United States District Court, S.D. New York

September 18, 2014


Plaintiff is proceeding pro se.

Defendant is represented by Michael Francis Albanese, State of New York, Attorney General's Office, New York, New York.


RICHARD J. SULLIVAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Hector Laporte ("Plaintiff'), who is currently incarcerated and proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant William Keyser, Deputy Superintendent of Security at Sing Sing Correctional Facility ("Defendant"), alleging that Defendant's failure to protect him from another inmate constituted a violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Now before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is granted and Plaintiff's motion is denied.


A. Facts

As set forth in Plaintiffs Complaint - and referenced in Defendant's 56.1 statement - Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Green Haven Correctional Facility ("Green Haven") when, in February 2010, he was threatened with a sharp weapon by a fellow inmate named Armstrong.[1]

(Doc. No. 2 ("Compl."); Def. 56. ¶¶ 6, 8.) Although Plaintiff maintains that, following the incident, he requested protection from Armstrong by yelling to Defendant as he passed Plaintiffs cell and by writing multiple letters to the superintendent and other members of the Green Haven administration (Def. 56.1. ¶¶ 9, 12-14), the undisputed evidence submitted in connection with this motion reflects that Defendant did not work at Green Haven during the time in which Plaintiff alleges to have yelled to him. ( Id. ¶ 5.) In fact, Defendant left Green Haven in January of 2008 to take a position as Deputy Superintendent of Security for Arthur Kill Correctional Facility ("Arthur Kill"). (Id. ¶ 3.) In September of 2009, Defendant moved from Arthur Kill to Sing Sing Correctional Facility ("Sing Sing"), where he currently holds his position as Deputy Superintendent of Security. ( Id. ¶ 4.)

On February 10, 2010, Plaintiff was moved to administrative segregation in the Special Housing Unit due to concerns for his safety and security. ( Id. 16.) The recommendation for segregation stated that Plaintiff had openly informed uniformed staff members of several incidents of misbehavior by other inmates, potentially creating a hostile environment. ( Id. ¶ 17.) The recommendation, however, made no mention of Armstrong. ( Id. ¶ 18.) On March 29, 2010, the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision ("DOCCS") granted Plaintiffs request for a facility transfer. ( Id. ¶ 19.) The transfer request likewise made no mention of Armstrong. ( Id. ¶ 20.) Rather, the cited reason for the transfer was the animosity between Plaintiff and inmate Hector Torres, a codefendant against whom Plaintiff had cooperated. ( Id. ¶¶ 21-22.) Plaintiff was transferred to Sing Sing on April 6, 2010. ( Id. ¶ 24.)

When an inmate is transferred to Sing Sing, DOCCS policies require that he be interviewed by a sergeant, who is directed to inquire as to whether the inmate has any enemies. ( Id. ¶¶ 26-27.) If the inmate identifies any individuals in response to that inquiry, the sergeant uses the DOCCS database to investigate the matter. (Id. ¶ 28.) For every inmate, DOCCS maintains a so-called "separation list" that indicates whether one inmate must be separated from another for security reasons. ( Id. ¶¶ 32, 36.) "[T]o prevent inmates from manipulating their [s]eparation [1]ists in order to receive favorable cell location[s] or facility transfers, " DOCCS protocol requires a "factual substantiation of a genuine threat" before an inmate is added to a separation list. ( Id. ¶ 39.) Once a determination is made that two inmates must be separated, each inmate is placed on the other inmate's separation list. ( Id. 36-37.)

Plaintiff maintains that, upon his arrival at Sing Sing in April 2010, he told the sergeant who interviewed him that Armstrong was an "enemy." ( Id. ¶¶ 24-25.) Armstrong, however, was never placed on Plaintiff's separation list. ( Id. ¶ 40.) Likewise, Plaintiff did not appear on Armstrong's separation list. ( Id. ¶ 50-51.) On March 21, 2011, unbeknownst to Plaintiff, Armstrong was transferred to Sing Sing. ( Id. ¶¶ 45-46.) On May 31, 2012, Plaintiff encountered Armstrong in the waiting room of the Sing Sing hospital clinic, and a physical altercation ensued. ( Id. ¶ 48.) Nevertheless, the record reflects that, prior to the May 31, 2012 incident, Defendant was unaware of any previous interactions between Plaintiff and Armstrong. ( Id. ¶¶ 41, 50-51.) As a result of the May 31, 2012 altercation, Plaintiff alleges that he suffers from "chest and back pain, " "emotional trauma, " and "paranoi[a] that [his] life is in... danger from [Armstrong]" (Compl. at 4), for which Plaintiff seeks a "punitive and compensatory damage award" ( id. at 13).

B. Procedural History

On December 28, 2012, Plaintiff commenced this action by filing a complaint against Defendant pursuant to § 1983, asserting violations of his constitutional rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.[2] ( See Compl.) On June 17, 2013, the Court issued a case management plan and discovery order that called for the completion of all discovery by September 30, 2013. (Doc. No. 18.) On November 21, 2013, Defendant filed the instant motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. No. 30.) Subsequently, in a letter received by the Court on December 3, 2013, Plaintiff sought (1) an extension of time to file his opposition to Defendant's motion for summary judgment, (2) leave "to obtain affidavits and/or declarations or to take discovery, " and (3) leave to file "several motions" relating to discovery. (Doc. No. 37 at 3.) In an Order dated December 6, 2013, the Court granted Plaintiff's extension of time to file his opposition, but denied Plaintiffs requests for leave to obtain additional discovery and to make unspecified discovery motions. ( Id. at 1.) On December 16, 2013, Plaintiff moved to amend his Complaint to include additional defendants and add new claims (Doc. No. 43), and on December 20, 2013, Defendant filed his opposition to Plaintiffs motion (Doc. No. 41). On December 27, 2013, the Court denied the Plaintiffs motion to amend without prejudice to renewal following resolution of Defendant's pending motion for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 42.) On January 28, 2014, Plaintiff filed his opposition to ...

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