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Toliver v. Fischer

United States District Court, N.D. New York

January 29, 2015

MICHAEL TOLIVER, Plaintiff,
v.
BRIAN FISCHER, ET AL., Defendants.

MICHAEL TOLIVER, Shawangunk Correctional Facility, Wallkill, New York, Plaintiff pro se.

CATHY Y. SHEEHAN, AAG, OFFICE OF THE NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Albany, New York, Attorneys for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

MAE A. D'AGOSTINO, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On January 17, 2012, Plaintiff commenced this civil rights action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, alleging that twenty employees of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision ("DOCCS") violated his constitutional rights during his confinement at the Shawangunk Correctional Facility ("Shawangunk"). Dkt. No. 1. By Decision and Order dated May 3, 2012, this Court dismissed, sua sponte, Defendants Schneiderman, Bellamy, and Prack from the action because the complaint did not state facts suggesting their personal involvement in the alleged violations of Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Dkt. No. 9 at 8-10.

On June 28, 2012, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint (Dkt. No. 27), which, by Decision and Order dated December 6, 2012 (Dkt. No. 85), this Court accepted for filing against seventeen of the original Defendants, as well as Correction Officer ("C.O.") North, who was not named in the original complaint. Liberally construed, the surviving claims in Plaintiff's amended complaint include (1) a First Amendment claim, based on Defendants' alleged filing of false misbehavior reports against Plaintiff, in retaliation for his pursuit of complaints, grievances, appeals, and Article 78 actions; (2) an equal protection claim based on alleged discrimination against Plaintiff because of his race, disability, and/or sexual orientation; (3) a conspiracy claim related to the retaliation and discrimination claims; (4) a Fourteenth Amendment claim alleging denial of procedural due process in connection with various disciplinary proceedings; and (5) an Eighth Amendment claim for failure to provide adequate medical care. Dkt. No. 27 at 8-9, 35. Plaintiff seeks both monetary and injunctive relief. Dkt. No. 27 at 14.

Defendants filed a motion, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), seeking dismissal of Plaintiff's amended complaint in its entirety, on behalf of all but one of the remaining Defendants. See Dkt. No. 134.[1] Plaintiff responded to the motion to dismiss, and defense counsel chose not to file a reply. Dkt. No. 145; Dkt. No. 150. On November 17, 2014, Magistrate Judge Baxter issued a Report-Recommendation recommending that the Court grant-in-part and deny-in-part Defendants' motion to dismiss. Dkt. No. 155.

Currently before the Court are Plaintiff's objections to Magistrate Judge Baxter's Report-Recommendation. Dkt. No. 159. Also before the Court are Plaintiff's requests for a temporary restraining order, requests for sanctions, and an order against further retaliation resulting from the current lawsuit. Dkt. Nos. 161, 163, 167 & 168. Defendants have opposed Plaintiff's motions. Dkt. No. 166.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts and Contentions

For an overview of the facts and contentions, refer to Magistrate Judge Baxter's Report-Recommendation. See Dkt. No. 155 at 3-5.

B. Magistrate Judge Baxter's November 17, 2014 Report-Recommendation

In his Report-Recommendation, Magistrate Judge Baxter recommended that the Court should grant Defendants' motion to dismiss in regard to Defendants Fischer, Maly, and LeClaire, and as to Plaintiff's conspiracy claim. See Dkt. No. 155. Magistrate Judge Baxter further recommended that the remainder of the motion to dismiss be denied. See id.

Specifically, Magistrate Judge Baxter recommended that Defendants Fischer, LeClaire, and Maly should be dismissed "because [P]laintiff has not adequately alleged that they were personally involved in any constitutional violations. However, the allegations of personal involvement with respect to [D]efendants Smith and Pingott are adequate...." Dkt. No. 155 at 6-7. Next, Magistrate Judge Baxter recommends that the retaliation charge involving Defendant Budziszewski stand, because "[t]he allegations... state a plausible claim of retaliation that cannot be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6)." Id. at 18. The Report-Recommendation did not address the retaliation charge against Defendant North, because "[D]efendant North has not appeared in this case and is not a party to the pending Rule 12(b)(6) motions...." Id. at 18 n.17.

Additionally, Magistrate Judge Baxter found that Plaintiff's equal protection claim is adequate to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion because Plaintiff's allegations "are sufficient to state a 'class of one' equal protection claim, and perhaps a discrimination claim based on race and/or sexual orientation." Id. at 22. Magistrate Judge Baxter recommended that the conspiracy claim be dismissed under the "intracorporate conspiracy doctrine, " because conclusory allegations by Plaintiff of Defendants' "personal' agenda" are not sufficient to plausibly suggest that Defendants acted outside the scope of their employment. Id. at 25.

Due to Plaintiff's allegations, including that the hearing officer said to Plaintiff "[e]very time you get a ticket you will be found guilty regardless.... I ain't fair and impartial[, ]" Magistrate Judge Baxter found Plaintiff has stated a plausible denial of procedural due process claim. Id. at 27; Dkt. No. 27 at 57. Finally, Magistrate Judge Baxter recommended that the Court deny the motion to dismiss in regard to Plaintiff's deliberate indifference claim because, at this stage, Plaintiff's allegation "that he suffered extreme pain for approximately 30 minutes before the identified defendants allowed him to get medical attention[, ]" is sufficient to survive the motion. Dkt. No. 155 at 31.

C. Plaintiff's objections

Plaintiff first objects to the dismissal of Defendant Maly from the lawsuit. Dkt. No. 159 at 2. He "seeks to supplement the complaint to detail [additional] constitutional deprivations." Id. According to the Report-Recommendation, "[t]he only specific allegation in the amended complaint regarding [D]efendant Maly is that, as Acting Superintendent, he denied one of [P]laintiff's grievances...." Id. at 9. Plaintiff wishes to add that "Defendant [Maly] sent plaintiff to S.H.U.' for 90 days in direct retaliation to this lawsuit...." Dkt. No. 159 at 2.

Plaintiff next objects to the dismissal of Defendant Fischer from the lawsuit. Id. at 3. Plaintiff has not introduced any new arguments and simply repeats arguments Magistrate Judge Baxter's Report-Recommendation has already addressed. Id. This includes "allowing a pattern o[f] retaliation and discrimination by ignoring plaintiff's various grievances and Article 78 proceedings." Id.

Third, Plaintiff objects to the dismissal of Defendant LeClaire from the lawsuit. Dkt. No. 159 at 4. Plaintiff alleges Defendant LeClaire condoned the retaliatory conduct of officers under his command, and that he "knew or should have known of the continued constitutional violations...." Id.

Finally, Plaintiff objects to the dismissal of the conspiracy claim, and alleges that Defendants "had a meeting of the minds in their individual capacities for a common goal." Id. at 5. Plaintiff further claims that "Defendants... conspire[d] with each other to hurt plaintiff, to keeplock plaintiff, to place plaintiff in SHU, [and] to take all privileges away from plaintiff...." Id.

D. Plaintiff's December 22, 2014, and December 29, 2014 requests for preliminary injunctive relief and sanctions

Plaintiff requests a preliminary injunction to place him in protective custody, and he requests sanctions against Defendants for each day he remains outside protective custody. Dkt. No. 161 at 3-4. Plaintiff claims he "is in danger [and he has] been forced to live in general population where [his] enemies are." Id. at 3. He also claims that Defendants refused to place Plaintiff back in protective custody so that he "can get physically assaulted." Id. at 2. Finally, Plaintiff seeks an order against further retaliation resulting from this lawsuit. Id. at 4.

In a submission filed seven days later, Plaintiff again requests sanctions, a temporary restraining order, and an order against further retaliation due to the current proceedings. Dkt. No. 163 at 1. Plaintiff states that on December 18, 2014, "Defendants Keys, Sarkowicz, Korines, and co-working friends'" came to his cell and threatened his life, continued to file false misbehavior reports, and threatened to break his neck due to his participation in a hunger strike. Id. at 2. Plaintiff also claims that inmates who remember him from before his placement in protective custody "reminded [him] that the first opportunity to get [him] for snitching [he] will be "done off."'" Id. at 3.

Defendants oppose Plaintiff's requests injunctive relief. Specifically, Defendants argue that "Plaintiff's request should be denied because the requested relief does not relate to any of the allegations of the underlying amended complainant or the proposed second amended complaint." Dkt. No. 166 at 1. Defendants further argue that Plaintiff's allegations are entirely speculative, and that these complaints "should be addressed through administrative channels at Shawangunk Correctional Facility...." Id. at 2.

E. Plaintiff's January 5 and 11, 2015 requests for sanctions and injunctive relief

In a letter request dated January 5, 2015, Plaintiff requests "additional sanctions for "further" retaliation... as [he] was thrown out of [his] wheelchair[, ] punched in the face and slapped and kicked by C.O. Stokes on December 22, 2014." Dkt. No. 167 at 2. Plaintiff also requests that the Court order his transfer from his current facility due to the alleged assault by C.O. Stokes, who is not a Defendant in this matter. Id. at 3. Plaintiff notes that Defendant Gardner "has recently issued a disposition placing [him] in keeplock with 30 days loss of all privileg[es] without" the required procedural due process. Id. at 4. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that the prison medical personnel refuse to examine him, and he "is in pain - sick call is being denied to [him] by medical staff when [they] make their tours." Id. at 5.

In a letter dated January 11, 2015, Plaintiff cites a Supreme Court case for the proposition that an inmate "may seek injunctive relief based on the claim that defendant corrections officials are knowingly and unreasonably disregarding an objectively intolerable risk of harm and will continue absent a court order directing otherwise." Dkt. No. 168 at 8. Finally, Plaintiff objects to his current placement in the general prison population due to ...


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