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Little v. Municipal Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

September 30, 2014

CLIFTON LITTLE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
MUNICIPAL CORPORATION et al., Defendants

Decided September 29, 2014

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Clifton Little, Plaintiff, Pro se, Romulus, NY.

Anthony Romero, Plaintiff, Pro se, Auburn, NY.

Timothy Beckman, Plaintiff, Pro se, Bronx, NY.

Terry Patterson, Plaintiff, Pro se, East Elmhurst, NY.

Jalah Knight Plaintiff, Pro se, East Elmhurst, NY.

Martin Concepcion, Plaintiff, Pro se, East Elmhurst, NY.

For Defendants: David Alan Rosinus, Jr., Esq., New York City Law Department, New York, NY.

Page 481

OPINION & ORDER

KENNETH M. KARAS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Plaintiffs Clifton Little, Anthony Romero, Timothy Beckman, Terry Patterson, Jalah Knight, and Martin Concepcion (collectively, " Plaintiffs" ), proceeding pro se, bring this Action against Municipal Corporation, The City of New York (" the City" ), Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction Dora B. Schriro (" Commissioner Schriro" ), Warden Ardo, Warden Duffy, Captain Bernadette Brown (" Brown" ), Correction Officer Mikell Spears (" Spears" ), and Captain Elio Elias (" Elias" ), (collectively, " Defendants" ), for injuries that Plaintiffs allegedly received while incarcerated at the George R. Vierno Center at Rikers Island. Defendants move to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated below, Defendants' Motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint contains a litany of grievances related to the conditions of Plaintiffs' confinement and incidents that occurred while they were confined. These allegations appear to fall into six categories:

First, Plaintiffs allege excessive confinement. They claim to have been " illegally locked in their cells for excessive amounts of" time. (Am. Compl. 6.)[1] Plaintiffs further claim that they were deprived food

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during some of these periods of confinement. ( Id. at 6-9.) Specifically, on May 14, 2012, Plaintiffs claim to have been locked in their cells " for an excessive amount of hours without being fed." ( Id. at 8.) Plaintiffs also claim to have been confined to their cells for a period of nearly 24 hours, from 9:07 p.m. on July 11, 2012 until approximately 8:00 p.m. on July 12, 2012. ( Id. at 9.) During this lock-in, Plaintiffs allege to have suffered verbal abuse and headaches and were fed " whatever DOC personnel felt like." ( Id.) In addition, Little claims to have been placed in pre-hearing detention during an investigation into an August 11, 2012 incident and that he was held from August 11 to 18, 2012, before being released. ( Id. at 10-11 .) During this detention, Little alleges that he was verbally abused, threatened, and sprayed with a chemical agent that caused burning to his eyes and shortness of breath. ( Id. at 10.)

Second, Plaintiffs allege unsanitary housing conditions. Plaintiffs Little, Romero, and Patterson claim that cells in which they were confined flooded with sewage on March 3, 2012. ( Id. at 7.) These three Plaintiffs claim to have been confined in the flooded cells from 11:30 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., forced to walk through the effluent, and then locked out of their cells. ( Id.) Plaintiffs also allege that, in June 2012, they were not permitted have their linens--specifically " pillowcases, towels, wash cloth[]s, and sheets" --cleaned or exchanged, which caused Plaintiffs to suffer skin irritation and loss of hair. ( Id. at 7, 20.)

Third, Plaintiffs allege that they were effectively or functionally denied access to the prison law library. Plaintiffs claim that simultaneous scheduling of inmates' access to the law library, sick call, chaplain, social services, legal aid, and prisoner grievance office forced Plaintiffs to " choose which to attend." ( Id. at 8.) Plaintiffs also claim that they were denied access to the law library outright on July 10, 2012, ( Id. at 9, 21), that they were only given a half hour of law library access the next day and, that when they complained, Plaintiffs were told that they " need[ed] to stop coming down here to have gang meetings," ( Id. at 9), which Plaintiffs deny having. Plaintiffs also allege that the prison lacks a dedicated word processor for prisoner use. ( Id. at 21.)

Fourth, Plaintiffs claim that they are being subjected to disparate treatment and " classified based on who they associate with" in violation of their right to due process. ( Id. at 20.) They claim to have been " re-classified," given different IDs, and placed on a Security Risk Group (" SRG" ) list, fired from their work assignments, forced to wear lime green prison clothes on visiting floors, subjected to " intense discriminatory search[e]s" in which personal property was taken or destroyed, and re-housed, all " without investigation." ( Id. at 6.)

Fifth, Plaintiffs complain about being subject to strip searches and searches of their cells. Plaintiffs Little, Patterson, and Knight allege that on July 5 and 12, 2012, they and other inmates on a " [t]arget list" had their cells searched and were forced to undergo strip searches, while the entire facility was placed on lock down. ( Id. at 8.) Little alleges that his cell was searched again on August 4, 2012, and that his " belongings [were] thrown on the floor," his clothes placed in the toilet, and other items--including legal paperwork--were removed from his cell without a receipt documenting the seizure. ( Id. at 9-10.)

Finally, Little alleges that, on February 13, 2012 at approximately 6:45 p.m., he was " repeatedly punched, kicked, and slapped" by members of prison staff " for close to 20

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minutes" and then restrained. ( Id. at 11.) Little received medical attention, including X-rays for the resulting injuries, but claims to have lasting marks and numbness from this incident. ( Id. at 11-12.)

B. Procedural Background

On July 30, 2012, Plaintiffs filed their Complaint. ( See Dkt. No. 2.) Pursuant to the Court's May 6, 2013 Order, ( see Dkt. No. 48), Little attempted to file an Amended Complaint on July 15, 2013, though none of the other Plaintiffs signed this document, ( see Dkt. No. 50). The Court construes this Amended Complaint to allege violations of the Eighth and the Fourteenth Amendments, see United States v. Georgia, 546 U.S. 151, 157, 126 S.Ct. 877, 163 L.Ed.2d 650 (2006) (noting that " the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Eighth Amendment's guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment" (citing Louisiana ex rel. Francis v. Resweber, 329 U.S. 459, 463, 67 S.Ct. 374, 91 L.Ed. 422 (1947) (plurality opinion))), which violations would entitle Plaintiff to damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In addition, the Court construes the Amended Complaint to allege violations of Plaintiffs' right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment, state law, and New York administrative regulations.

Plaintiffs claim to have suffered " Mental Anguish, Stomach Pains, dizz[i]ness, headache[s], nausea, emotional depression, emotional distress, exhaustion, chest pains, def[a]mation of character, verbal abuse, starvation, discrimination, [and] los[s] of weight . . . [and] hair" due to the alleged violations. (Am. Compl. at 14, 24.) By way of remedy, Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief against all Defendants, compensatory damages in the amount of $5,000,000 " against each of the defendants," ...


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