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Reed v. Doe

United States District Court, N.D. New York

January 30, 2015

BENJI D. REED, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN DOE, 1 and SUPERINTENDENT, Eastern Correctional Facility, Defendants

BENJI D. REED, PLAINTIFF, Pro se, Pine City, NY.

FOR DEFENDANTS: JAMES SEAMAN, ESQ., Assistant Attorney General, OF COUNSEL, HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, New York State Attorney General, Albany, NY.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

David E. Peebles, United States Magistrate Judge.

Pro se plaintiff Benji D. Reed, a New York State prison inmate, commenced this action in March 2011 alleging, inter alia, that some of the defendants employed at the Eastern Correctional Facility violated his civil rights and committed negligence during the course of his incarceration in that facility. The scope of this action has been narrowed as a result motion practice, and the only remaining cause of action is an Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claim asserted against defendant John Doe 1, who has not been identified by plaintiff. To assist plaintiff in identifying defendant John Doe 1, the court substituted the superintendent of Eastern for purposes of service and discovery only. Following the close of discovery, the superintendent filed the currently pending motion seeking the entry of summary judgment in his favor in light of the absence of any record evidence that he was personally involved in the allegations giving rise to this action. For the reasons set forth below, I recommend that the superintendent's motion be granted.

I. BACKGROUND[1]

Plaintiff is a prison inmate currently in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (" DOCCS"). See generally Dkt. No. 30. Although he is now incarcerated elsewhere, at the times relevant to his claims Reed was confined in the Eastern Correctional Facility (" Eastern"), located in Napanock, New York. Id.; Dkt. No. 55.

Plaintiff commenced this action on March 8, 2011, asserting the deprivation of his constitutional and federal statutory rights, as well as common law claims, against two unnamed defendants, designated as John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, and defendant M. Soto, a Corrections Counselor at Eastern.[2] See generally Dkt. No. 30. In his complaint, as amended, plaintiff alleges that on September 14, 2010, he became ill after consuming spoiled corn and rice at the Eastern mess hall. Id. at 3. As a result, plaintiff suffered abdominal pain and extreme bouts of diarrhea. Id. Plaintiff alleges that defendant John Doe 1 was advised that the corn and rice emitted a foul odor and could be contaminated, but failed to heed the warning and ordered that it be served to the general prison population. Id. at 4.

Plaintiff was initially treated on the following day at the Eastern medical clinic, along with several other infected inmates, and was given " dymo tablets" to address the condition. Dkt. No. 30 at 3. He was subsequently directed to return to the clinic later that day, however, and instructed to discontinue the use of the dymo tablets and told that he would instead be placed on a water diet and confined to his cell for one day to flush out any infection. Id. at 4.

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff commenced this action on March 8, 2011. Dkt. No. 1. As defendants, plaintiff's complaint named two " Doe" defendants, M. Soto, and seven corrections employees assigned to Southport. Id. at 2. The complaint asserted claims under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution; the Americans with Disabilities Act (" ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq .; section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (" section 504"), 29 U.S.C. § 794; and New York State common law. See generally id. Based upon an initial review of plaintiff's complaint and an accompanying in forma pauperis application, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), Senior District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy directed all claims arising from the events occurring at Southport severed and transferred to the Western District of New York. Dkt. No. 4.

In response to plaintiff's complaint, defendant Soto, the sole remaining named defendant in the action following Judge McAvoy's decision, moved for dismissal of plaintiff's claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Dkt. No. 11. Plaintiff followed with a motion, filed on December 7, 2011, seeking leave to amend his complaint pursuant to Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Dkt. No. 14. Plaintiff's motion was intended, in part, to clarify and expand upon the allegations set forth in his original complaint related to the events at Eastern and eliminate claims and references to the defendants affected by the transfer to the Western District of New York.[3] Id. In a report issued on July 26, 2012, I recommended dismissal of plaintiff's claims against defendant Soto with leave to amend regarding plaintiff's cause of action for retaliation. Dkt. No. 22. Judge McAvoy adopted that recommendation on September 30, 2012, and plaintiff was granted leave to replead within thirty days. Dkt. No. 28.

Plaintiff availed himself of the opportunity to amend, and submitted an amended complaint on October 12, 2012. Dkt. No. 30. Upon review of that amended complaint, I issued a report dated November 9, 2012, in which I recommended that (1) the amended complaint be rejected insofar as it asserts a retaliation claim against defendant Soto and that the claim be dismissed with prejudice; (2) the amended complaint be rejected with respect to plaintiff's state common law claims against defendant John Doe 2; (3) plaintiff's amended complaint be accepted as it relates to the constitutional claims asserted against defendant John Doe 1; (4) the superintendent at Eastern be added as a defendant for the purposes of service and discovery to assist plaintiff in identifying defendant John Doe 1; and (5) Judge McAvoy direct plaintiff to take reasonable steps to ascertain the identity of defendant John Doe 1 and seek permission to add that individual by name as a defendant in the action. Dkt. No. 33 at 18-21. On September 27, 2013, Judge McAvoy adopted these recommendations. Dkt. No. 39.

Following the joinder of issue, I issued a standard Rule 16 scheduling order, which, inter alia, required that both parties provide mandatory disclosures and established April 4, 2014 as a deadline for completion of all discovery in the action. Dkt. No. 49.

Following the close of discovery, the Eastern superintendent filed the pending motion seeking the entry of summary judgment in his favor. Dkt. No. 53. The superintendent contends that dismissal is appropriate in light of the fact that he is not implicated in plaintiff's claims and plaintiff has failed to identify and join the individual identified in the amended complaint as defendant John Doe 1. Plaintiff has not responded to defendant's motion, which is now ripe for determination, and has been referred to me for the issuance of a report ...


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