United States District Court, W.D. New York
JESSIE J. BARNES, 09-B-2707, Plaintiff,
COUNTY OF MONROE, et al., Defendants
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Jessie J. Barnes, Plaintiff, Pro se, Malone, NY.
For County of Monroe, Municipality, Maggie Brooks, County Executive, Patrick M. O'Flynn, Sheriff, Ronald Harling, Superintendent, E. Krenzer, Major, Capt. Thomas, Capt. Jolly, Lt. Dimatino or John Doe, Lt. Lipari, Lt. Horan, Lt. Kaiser, Lt. Kloner, Sgt. Derosa, Sgt. Mooney, Sgt. McGowan, Cpl. Gatti, Cpl. Guest, Cpl. Knapp, Cpl. Cardella, Cpl. Amatore, Cpl. Kennelly, Cpl. Pratt, Cpl. Inipoli, Cpl. Preston, Cpl. T. Peck, Cpl. S. Peck, Cpl. Shellard, Deputy Kluth, Deputy Scally, Deputy Luther, Deputy Atkins, Deputy Newton, Deputy Willis, Deputy Waud, Nurse Mary, Sgt. Hayes, Palmer, Deputy, Daly, Deputy, Galen, Deputy, DiFlores, Deputy, Daly, Deputy, Alberti, Deputy, Corporal Messura, Carlo, Corporal, Tripoli, Corporal, Greg Domalski, previously sued as John Doe Video Room Deputy working on 2/26/09, Bradley Meister, previously sued as John Doe Video Room Deputy working on 11/18/08, Avis Robinson, previously sued as John Doe Video Room Deputy working on 2/26/09, Deputy Fitzsimmons, previously sued as John Doe Video Room Deputy working on 2/26/09, Deputy James Amico, previously sued as John Doe Video Room Deputy working on 8/7/08, Deputy Ellen Danehy, previously sued as John Doe Video Room Deputy working on 8/7/08, Deputy Isiah Raby, previously sued as " Defendant Ruby", Letitia Miller, Michelle Rizzo, Todd Thibaut, Major Caceci, Defendants: Mallorie C. Rulison, LEAD ATTORNEY, Monroe County Department of Law, Rochester, NY.
For Jane Doe, Nurse, Defendant: Paul D. Fuller, LEAD ATTORNEY, Monroe County Law Department, Litigation Division, Rochester, NY.
For E. Homan, previously sued as Jane Doe Nurse working on 2/27/09, Defendant: Thomas B. Cronmiller, LEAD ATTORNEY, Hiscock & Barclay LLP, Rochester, NY.
DECISION AND ORDER
ELIZABETH A. WOLFORD, United States District Judge.
Plaintiff Jessie James Barnes (" Plaintiff" ), proceeding pro se, is an inmate currently housed at Upstate Correctional Facility. Plaintiff brings the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants committed various violations of Plaintiff's state and constitutional rights while he was detained at the Monroe County Jail (" MCJ" ) during 2008 and 2009.
Presently before the Court is the motion by Defendants County of Monroe, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, Monroe County Sheriff Patrick M. O'Flynn, MCJ Superintendent Ronald Harling, Major E. Krenzer, Major Caceci, Captain Jolly, Captain Thomas, Lieutenant Dimartino, Lieutenant Lipari, Lieutenant Horan, Lieutenant Kaiser, Lieutenant Kloner, Sergeant
DeRosa, Sergeant Mooney, Sergeant McGowan, Sergeant Hayes, Corporal Kimball, Corporal Gatti, Corporal Guest, Corporal Knapp, Corporal Cardella, Corporal Amatore, Corporal Kennelly, Corporal Pratt, Corporal Inipoli, Corporal Preston, Corporal T. Peck, Corporal S. Peck, Corporal Shellard, Corporal Carlo, Corporal Tripoli, Corporal Messura, Deputy Kluth, Deputy Scally, Deputy Luther, Deputy Atkins, Deputy Newton, Deputy Willis, Deputy Waud, Deputy James Amico, Deputy Ellen Danehy, Deputy Isiah Raby, Deputy Fitzsimmons, Deputy Palma, Deputy Daly, Deputy Galen, Deputy DiFlores, Deputy Alberti, Jane Doe Nurse, Nurse Mary, Greg Domalski, Bradley Meister, Avis Robinson, E. Holman, Letitia Miller, Michelle Rizzo, and Todd Thibaut (" County Defendants" ) for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) (Dkt. 119), Defendant Ellie Holman's separate motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) (Dkt. 120), Plaintiff's motion for recusal (Dkt. 142), and Plaintiff's request to convert Defendants' motions for judgment on the pleadings into a motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 133).
For the following reasons, the County Defendants' motion (Dkt. 119) is granted in part and denied in part, Defendant Holman's motion (Dkt. 120) is granted, and Plaintiff's request to convert Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings into a motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 133) is denied. In addition, Plaintiff's motion for recusal (Dkt. 142) is denied.
Plaintiff filed his original complaint in this matter on March 22, 2010, alleging numerous causes of action against approximately 88 Defendants, along with an application to proceed in forma pauperis. (Dkt. 1, 2). On April 1, 2010, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Dkt. 3). In that order, the Court also dismissed Defendants Ontario County and Ontario County Attorney as parties to this action. ( Id.).
Plaintiff filed a motion to appoint counsel on April 28, 2010 (Dkt. 4), and on May 17, 2010, the Court denied his motion (Dkt. 5).
On July 6, 2010, the County Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. (Dkt. 6). On July 27, 2010, the Court added Corporal Messura as a Defendant. (Dkt. 10). Plaintiff moved to amend his complaint on August 3, 2010. (Dkt. 12). On October 6, 2010, Defendants Beilein, Harrison-Ross, and Stewart filed a motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. 18). On December 27, 2010, Plaintiff filed another motion to
amend his complaint. (Dkt. 27). On July 26, 2011, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Defendants Beilein, Harrison-Ross, Stewart, and the Citizen's Policy and Complaint Review Council, and the Court dismissed these parties with prejudice by Court order. (Dkt. 60, 61). On January 11, 2012, the Court issued an order granting Plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint (Dkt. 27), and dismissing as moot Plaintiff's additional motion to amend (Dkt. 12) as well as the County Defendants' motion to dismiss (Dkt. 6). (Dkt. 62).
On January 25, 2012, Plaintiff filed his second amended complaint. (Dkt. 64). On March 22, 2012, the Court ordered that Plaintiff's second amended complaint be amended to insert the name of Cynthia L. Muller in place of the aforementioned Jane Doe nurse. (Dkt. 78). On April 10, 2012, the County Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. 82). On June 6, 2012, the Court ordered that Defendants Greg Domalski, Bradley Meister, Avis Robinson, Deputy Fitzsimmons, James Amico, and Deputy Ellen Danehy be added as Defendants in place of formerly named John Does. (Dkt. 92). Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint on July 26, 2012. (Dkt. 96). On August 1, 2012, Defendants Mary Ann McQueeney and Debbie Scarpulla, two nurses employed by Correctional Medical Care, Inc. (" CMC" ), filed a motion to dismiss the claims against them. (Dkt. 97).
On August 2, 2012, the Court granted Plaintiff's request to file a third amended complaint, making Plaintiff's third amended complaint the operative pleading for this matter. (Dkt. 99).
On August 2, 2012, the Court dismissed Defendants McQueeney, Scarpulla, Bye, Showers, Schultz, Wheatley, Burns, Caviccholi, Harris, Knox, Lopez, Chance, Gallina, and Potocki in accordance with Plaintiff's voluntary dismissal of these Defendants. (Dkt. 100). The outstanding motion for judgment on the pleadings (Dkt. 82) and motion to dismiss (Dkt. 97) were denied as moot. (Dkt. 99).
On February 4, 2013, the County Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings (Dkt. 119), and the remaining Defendants, Holman and Muller, filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim (Dkt. 120).
The County Defendants filed a motion to stay discovery on March 7, 2013. (Dkt. 125). The remaining Defendants filed a declaration in support of this motion to stay discovery on March 13, 2013. (Dkt. 127).
On June 19, 2013, Plaintiff filed his response to Defendants' motions and requested that the County Defendants' motion be converted into a motion for summary judgment and be granted in his favor. (Dkt. 133).
On July 11, 2013, the Court dismissed Defendant Muller in accordance with Plaintiff's voluntary dismissal of this Defendant. (Dkt. 135).
The Court granted Defendants' motion to stay discovery (Dkt. 125) on September 19, 2013 (Dkt. 138). On February 13, 2014, the Honorable Charles J. Siragusa, United States District Judge for the Western District of New York, transferred this case to the undersigned. (Dkt. 141).
On January 13, 2015, Plaintiff filed a motion for the recusal of the undersigned. (Dkt. 142).
Plaintiff's third amended complaint against the remaining 58 Defendants asserts the following facts. (Dkt. 95).
In or about July 2008, Plaintiff was arrested, charged with burglary, and remanded
to MCJ pending trial. ( Id. at ¶ 20).
On August 7, 2008, Plaintiff was fighting with two other inmates, Trustee Eades and Tyrone Members, when Defendant Newton jumped on Plaintiff's back, struck Plaintiff in the mouth, and knocked out one of Plaintiff's front teeth. ( Id.). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Newton " premeditated" the attack on Plaintiff, and that Defendants Amico and Danehy " collaborated" with Defendant Newton to delay the call of a " Code 1," allowing Plaintiff to be attacked by the other inmates. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 30-32). Plaintiff claims that inmate Eades' cousin told Plaintiff on June 12, 2009, that Defendant Newton was aware that inmates Eades and Members were going to " attack" Plaintiff and indicated that he would " take care of the Code #1 response and finish the plaintiff off himself." ( Id. at ¶ 32).
As a result of the August 7, 2008 altercation, Plaintiff was placed in the special housing unit (" SHU" ) by Defendants Luther, Newton, DeRosa, Jolly, Krenzer, Horan, Kaiser, and Dimartino. ( Id. at ¶ 75). Plaintiff was housed in SHU from August 7, 2008 through August 21, 2008, under full mechanical restraints and under a shower and exercise deprivation order. ( Id.).
Although it was not specified in the complaint, Plaintiff must have been released at some time after August 21, 2008, because on October 9, 2008, Plaintiff was arrested after a high-speed chase and was again detained at MCJ on charges of burglary and reckless endangerment, awaiting his July 13, 2009 trial. ( Id. at ¶ 21).
On October 11, 2008, Defendants DeRosa, Horan, and Jolly placed Plaintiff in SHU. ( Id. at ¶ 22). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant DeRosa placed him in SHU in retaliation for the burglary of a family member that may have been committed by Plaintiff. ( Id. at ¶ 76). Plaintiff further alleges that his placement in SHU violated his rights to due process. ( Id. at ¶ 77). On October 16, 2008, Defendant Krenzer sent Plaintiff a memo indicating: " The circumstances of your arrest and institutional history justify actions taken and measures to isolate you." ( Id. at ¶ 62). On October 20, 2008, Plaintiff sent " an appeal" to Defendant O'Flynn, complaining that Defendants DeRosa and Krenzer were discriminating against him and denying him due process. ( Id. at ¶ 63). Plaintiff alleges that he sent a copy of his complaint to Defendant Brooks on March 17, 2009. ( Id. at ¶ 25). Plaintiff further claims that he submitted a notice of temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to Defendant Brooks on April 20, 2009, concerning Plaintiff's allegations of discrimination and denial of due process. According to Plaintiff, he effectuated service of a notice of claim on Defendant County of Monroe on June 29, 2009, ( Id. at ¶ 27), and an Article 78 petition on August 5, 2009 ( id. at ¶ 28).
Plaintiff claims that housing sections 2, 2M, 3, and 3M in MCJ were areas known to have " gang activity," and that Defendants Thomas, Jolly, Dimartino, Horan, Kaiser, Hayes, Mooney, DeRosa, McGowan, Kimball, Knapp, Cardella, Kenelly, Tripoli, S. Peck, and Carlo discriminated against Plaintiff by placing him in this housing " where gang activity is prevalent and rampant or hostile situations are most likely to occurr[sic] with the Black or Hispanic ethnicity inmates of particular profile and character they deliberately and indifferently assemble in small area with same or similar tendencies and propensities for transgressions or violence. . . ." ( Id. at ¶ 61). Plaintiff claims that Defendants do not place Caucasian inmates in this housing. ( Id. at ¶ 71). Plaintiff contends that Defendants O'Flynn, Brooks, and Harling have " acquiesced" in Monroe County's alleged discriminatory " policy, practice, or
custom" of housing minorities together in MCJ. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 25-26, 48, 57, 61, 72-73, 94-96).
On November 7, 2008, Defendant Krenzer placed Plaintiff in second floor housing. ( Id. at ¶ 40). On November 18, 2008, Plaintiff was beaten by " two (2) younger minorities," Alvin King and M. Jones. ( Id. at ¶ 41). On November 19, 2008, Defendant DeRosa placed Plaintiff in SHU and allegedly stated: " They should have jumped you, you stabbed that kid in the face with a pencil the whole pitt[sic] should have kicked your ass." ( Id. at ¶ 64). Plaintiff claims that Defendants DeRosa, Horan, Kaiser, Jolly, Amatore, Krenzer, Caceci, and Harling discriminated against Plaintiff by putting him in SHU because there is videotape evidence of King " mercifullessly[sic] repeatedly kicking the plaintiff in his face as he lie on the floor." ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 65, 77). Plaintiff claims that he was supposed to be released from SHU on December 17, 2008, but was kept in SHU until December 23, 2008, " without adequacy of any due process of law." ( Id. at ¶ 77). Plaintiff contends that he notified Defendants O'Flynn, Harling, and Krenzer that he was improperly placed in SHU, but that these individuals " failed to remedy the wrong." ( Id. at ¶ 78).
After his release from SHU on December 23, 2008, Plaintiff claims that he was placed in a cell that was " atrociously unsanitary disgustingly filthy with excrement, urine, feces and spew all over walls, ceiling, floor and bars for (3) three more consecutive days where ventilation system were non-existent and cell smell toxicly[sic] aweful[sic] . . ." by Defendants Jolly, Horan, Kaiser, DeRosa, McGowan, Knapp, Kennedy, Cardella, S. Peck, and Tripoli. ( Id. at ¶ 60).
On December 26, 2008, Plaintiff informed Defendant Tripoli that he did not want to return to the mainframe housing area, and according to Plaintiff, Tripoli responded: " I don't give a fuck how many times you got your ass kicked on main-frame we have decide[d] that you will only be placed in a cell on the main-frame and no place else, either you go to 3M or I will put you back in SHU." ( Id. at ¶ 66). On January 19, 2009, Plaintiff was attacked by three other inmates. ( Id. at ¶ 43). Plaintiff claims that Defendants Waud and Willis " bragged" about Plaintiff getting beaten up on this occasion. ( Id. at ¶ 44).
On February 26, 2009, Plaintiff claims that he asked Defendant Waud to lock him in his cell with a large bag of commissary items at approximately 8:30 p.m. ( Id.). Plaintiff then alleges that at approximately 9:00 p.m., Defendant Waud opened all of the cells, and Plaintiff left for a short time to brush his hair. ( Id. at ¶ 45). When Plaintiff returned, his belongings were in disarray, and a " large amount" of commissary was taken from his cell. ( Id.). Plaintiff claims that inmates Frye, Spivey, Ali, and Houston stole his property, and that this theft would appear on videotape. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 45, 47).
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Waud permitted the theft of commissary to occur in retaliation for Plaintiff's filing of grievances, as evidenced by Defendant Waud's statement that he hated Plaintiff because " he is a piece of shit that likes to file grievances on staff." ( Id. at ¶ 46). Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Waud, T. Peck, Mooney, Dimartino, Robertson, and Fitzsimmons " collaborated reports" to delete any references to the theft of Plaintiff's commissary. ( Id. at ¶ 47). Plaintiff contends that Defendants Krenzer, Harling, Jolly, Dimartino, Mooney, T. Peck, Waud, Fitzsimmons, and Robinson altered the videotape evidence by deleting from the tape the time period from 8:55 p.m. through 9:30 p.m. ( Id. at ¶ 101). Plaintiff further claims that Defendants Harling, Krenzer, Thomas, and Jolly encouraged
the falsification of records relating to the incident. ( Id. at ¶ 48). According to Plaintiff, Defendant Monroe County continues to withhold the videotape evidence, which Plaintiff claims is in the possession of Defendants Amico, Danehy, Meister, Domalski, Miller, Rizzo, Fitzsimmons, and Robinson. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 100, 102).
Although Plaintiff does not explain what happened after the alleged theft of his commissary was discovered, Plaintiff alleges that he was taken out of the booking area on a stretcher following the incident. ( Id. at ¶ 49). As Plaintiff was carried out on a stretcher, Plaintiff claims Defendant DeRosa called out: " Hey Jessie I see you got your ass kicked that is good for you they did a pretty good job this time." ( Id.). When Defendant Raby asked Plaintiff how many inmates jumped him, Defendant Holman allegedly stated: " Oh Jessie Barnes always gets his ass kicked." ( Id. at ¶ 53).
Plaintiff alleges that Nurse Muller deliberately omitted from her February 26, 2008 medical notes the fact that Plaintiff was vomiting blood, with the intention of downplaying his injuries. ( Id. at ¶ 103). Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Ms. Muller as a defendant to this action with prejudice, and Ms. Muller was dismissed from this matter by Court order dated July 12, 2013. (Dkt. 135).
Between February 27, 2009 and March 2, 2009, Plaintiff was housed in a booking cell, and was allegedly kept on a shower and exercise deprivation order by Defendants T. Peck, Mooney, Waud, Dimartino, and Jolly. (Dkt. 95 at ¶ 79).
On an unspecified date, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Kluth " humiliated and degraded" Plaintiff for " 5 or 6 consecutive hours" after Defendant DeRosa pointed at Plaintiff, and subsequently issued two false misbehavior reports against Plaintiff. ( Id. at ¶ 67).
On March 2, 2009, before being placed in SHU, Plaintiff was subjected to a " degrading and humiliating strip-search" by Defendant Scally. ( Id. at ¶ 69). Plaintiff claims that he filed a grievance against Defendant Scally on March 3, 2009, and later that day, Defendant Scally approached Plaintiff's cell and " blew-up his cheeks making jestures[sic] and stated: 'Oh Jessie suck my dick.'" ( Id. at ¶ 92). Plaintiff claims that Defendants Atkins, Scally, Guest, Amatore, and McGowan then filed a false misbehavior report against Plaintiff in retaliation for Plaintiff's grievance against Defendant Scally. ( Id. at ¶ 93). As a result of this misbehavior report, Defendants Hayes, Horan, Jolly, McGowan, Guest, Scally, Atkins, and Krenzer placed Plaintiff in SHU on a shower and exercise deprivation order for over 30 consecutive days, causing Plaintiff " extreme outrageous emotional distress, physical suffering and mental anguish." ( Id. at ¶ 80). Plaintiff claims to have contested this determination but his grievance and subsequent appeal were denied. ( Id. at ¶ 81).
According to Plaintiff, Defendants Krenzer and Thomas told Plaintiff that the 30-day order " may have been a bit much," and that he would be taken out of SHU on April 13, 2009, if he did not have " any write ups or bad reports." ( Id. at ¶ 82). Plaintiff claims that Defendant Atkins intentionally " documented degenerate asnine[sic] notes, log entries, segregation reports and e-mails" between April 9, 2009, and April 12, 2009, to prevent Plaintiff's early removal from SHU. ( Id. at ¶ 83).
Plaintiff alleges that his original petition to state court was notarized on April 15, 2009, by the law librarian, and that when copies of the petition were delivered to Plaintiff's cell on April 16, 2009, Defendant Atkins saw the petition. ( Id. at ¶ 85). Plaintiff alleges that another false misbehavior
report was issued against Plaintiff on April 16, 2009, in retaliation for Plaintiff's state court petition. ( Id. at ¶ 86). As a result of this misbehavior report, Defendants Newton, Horan, Jolly, and Krenzer placed Plaintiff on a shower and exercise deprivation order. ( Id.). Plaintiff claims to have filed an administrative appeal with Defendant Harling on April 17, 2009, with respect to the new deprivation order and his concerns about the false misbehavior report. ( Id. at ¶ 87). Defendant Harling responded on April 21, 2009. ( Id.).
Plaintiff claims that he was required to remain in full mechanical restraints during his isolated morning exercise period from March 2009 until August 31, 2009, and that this requirement constituted cruel and unusual punishment and violated his rights under the due process and equal protection clauses of the New York State and United States Constitutions. ( Id. at ¶ 88).
On May 2, 2009, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Willis let inmate Clark out of his cell and instructed the inmate to throw " urine, feces, and dirty mop water in the plaintiff's cell," endangering Plaintiff's life, health, and safety. ( Id. at ¶ 54). Plaintiff further claims that Defendant Willis took Plaintiff's personal towel that held sentimental value and threw the towel into the urine and feces. ( Id. at ¶ 55). Plaintiff alleges that later that day Defendant Willis stood in front of Plaintiff's cell with inmate Clark and Defendant Gatti when Defendant Gatti, whom Plaintiff had never seen before, called Plaintiff a " nigger" and said that he would kill Plaintiff. ( Id. at ¶ 56).
On May 4, 2009, Defendants Scally, Amatore, and Atkins allegedly filed a false misbehavior report against Plaintiff, which caused Plaintiff to be placed on a 23-day consecutive " styro-foam tray order," in retaliation for Plaintiff " seeking redress of grievances injudicial and administrative forums." ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 58, 90).
On August 12, 2009, Plaintiff alleges that he was participating in his one hour of exercise when Defendant Daly harassed Plaintiff about Plaintiff's upcoming parole hearing. ( Id. at ¶ 33). Following this encounter, Plaintiff requested to speak with a supervisor, and was placed in a no-contact visitation cell for 45 minutes. ( Id. at ¶ 34).
Later that day, Defendant Daly entered the visitation room at the end of Plaintiff's 50(h) deposition with the Ontario County Attorney. ( Id. at ¶ 35). According to Plaintiff, Defendant Shellard also entered the room, and when Plaintiff reached for his legal documents, Defendant Shellard pushed Plaintiff face-first into the glass window. ( Id.). Defendants Shellard, Daly, and Alberti then allegedly pushed Plaintiff to the floor, kicked, stomped on, and punched Plaintiff, although he was in full restraints. ( Id. at ¶ 36). Plaintiff claims that Defendants Alberti and Daly used the handcuffs to " inflict pain and suffering on [Plaintiff] causing him to lose the feeling in his hands." ( Id. at ¶ 37).
Plaintiff alleges he was then taken to the elevator, where Defendant Lipari was standing shaking a canister of mace and watching Plaintiff. ( Id.). After the elevator arrived at the second floor, Plaintiff claims he was pushed into the hallway. ( Id. at ¶ 38). Plaintiff claims that he tried to steady himself by grabbing the gate and that Defendant Galen told him not to touch the gate, and that Defendants Alberti and Daly then grabbed Plaintiff and slammed his head. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 38-39). Plaintiff claims that he urinated and defecated on himself, and experienced dizziness and a concussion. ( Id. at ¶ 39). Plaintiff was then allegedly dragged back to his cell by Defendants Galen, Daly, and Alberti. ( Id.).
Plaintiff also complains about conditions of confinement at MCJ. Plaintiff claims that Monroe County failed to properly
train or supervise Defendants Brooks and O'Flynn, resulting in the " gross negligent management" of various officers, and ultimately violations of Plaintiff's constitutional rights. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 48, 57, 61, 89, 97). For example, Plaintiff alleges that the County's failure to properly train or supervise Defendants Brooks and O'Flynn led to their negligent management of Defendants Harling and Krenzer, who permitted Plaintiff to be housed in the mainframe section of housing at MCJ. ( Id. at ¶ 61).
In that same vein, Plaintiff generally claims that Defendant County of Monroe has maintained a discriminatory classification policy for over fifteen years at MCJ. ( Id. at ¶ 71). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that this policy involves placing all minorities in SHU for " minor or miscellaneous rule violations" resulting in the minorities' denial of access to public information. ( Id. at ¶ 72). Further, Plaintiff claims that the conditions in SHU are extreme, insofar as the " 5 ft. long lights just 3 ft. above bed remain on 24 hrs. a day no matter how hot temperature is outside and these bright lights causes [sic] sleeplessness excruciating head-aches, eye pains, anxiety, mental anguish and endless pain and suffering." ( Id. at ¶ 73). Plaintiff claims that minorities are disproportionately exposed to these extreme conditions. ( Id.).
In addition, Plaintiff claims that the County of Monroe maintains a defective grievance program at MCJ, insofar as there is bias in the program that denied Plaintiff his right to " petition government for redress of grievances under administrative forum." ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 91, 95-97).
Plaintiff claims that he has filed numerous grievances, complaints, and appeals with Defendants Harling and Krenzer in relation to the alleged mistreatment by Defendants Atkins, Scally, Newton, Willis, Guest, Amatore, and DeRosa, but states that Defendants Harling and Krenzer have continued to show " deliberate indifference" to Plaintiff's concerns. ( Id. at ¶ 59).
Plaintiff claims that Defendants Lipari and Harling provided fraudulent responses to Plaintiff's grievance 09-33, and excluded four witness statements in connection with Plaintiff's grievance 09-49, contributing to Defendant County of Monroe's " faulty" grievance program. ( Id. at ¶ 94).
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Lipari, Guest, S. Peck, and Shellard did not appropriately conduct their investigations against supervisors in relation to Plaintiff's grievances 09-01, 09-32, 09-35, 09-46, 09-49, 09-81, 09-88, and 09-89, in violation of Plaintiff's rights under 7 NYCRR § 701.8(d)(1) and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. ( Id. at ¶ 95).
Plaintiff generally claims that the investigation into his grievance 09-01 was biased and prejudiced, in violation of his right to seek redress of grievances. ( Id. at ¶ 96).
Plaintiff alleges that he was denied due process of law at nine disciplinary hearings. ( Id. at 97). Plaintiff claims that eight separate provisions of the NYCRR were violated by Defendants Messura, Preston, and Pratt at these hearings. ( Id.). Plaintiff further claims that Defendants Krenzer and Harling were notified of these violations through Plaintiff's appeals, but that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's complaints and failed to remedy the wrong. ( Id. at ¶ 98).
Rule 12(c) motions for judgment on the pleadings are evaluated by the same standard applicable to motions to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Hayden v. Paterson, 594 F.3d 150, 160 (2d Cir. 2010). These motions must be made
after the close of the pleadings, " but early enough not to delay trial. . . ." Id.
" 'In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a district court must limit itself to facts stated in the complaint or in documents attached to the complaint as exhibits or incorporated in the complaint by reference.'" Newman & Schwartz v. Asplundh Tree Expert Co., 102 F.3d 660, 662 (2d Cir. 1996) (quoting Kramer v. Time Warner, Inc., 937 F.2d 767, 773 (2d Cir. 1991)). A court should consider the motion " accepting all factual allegations in the complaint and drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor." Ruotolo v. City of New York, 514 F.3d 184, 188 (2d Cir. 2008) (internal quotations and citation omitted). To withstand dismissal, a plaintiff must set forth " enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (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.'" Turkmen v. Ashcroft, 589 F.3d 542, 546 (2d Cir. 2009) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)).
" [A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (alteration in original) (internal quotations and citations omitted). Thus, " at a bare minimum, the operative standard requires the plaintiff [to] provide the grounds upon which his claim rests through factual allegations sufficient to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Goldstein v. Pataki, 516 F.3d 50, 56 (2d Cir. 2008) (alteration in original) (internal quotations and citations omitted).
" A complaint is deemed to include any written instrument attached to it as an exhibit, materials incorporated in it by reference, and documents that, although not incorporated by reference, are 'integral' to the complaint." Sira v. Morton, 380 F.3d 57, 67 (2d Cir. 2004) (citations omitted).
In addition, " [i]t is well-settled that pro se litigants generally are entitled to a liberal construction of their pleadings, which should be read to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Green v. United States, 260 F.3d 78, 83 (2d Cir. 2001) (internal quotations and citation omitted); see also Hemphill v. New York, 380 F.3d 680, 687 (2d Cir. 2004) (alteration in original) (internal citation omitted) (" It is well-established that 'when [a] plaintiff proceeds pro se. . . a court is obliged to construe his pleadings liberally, particularly when they allege civil rights violations.'" ). Moreover, " a pro se litigant should be afforded every reasonable opportunity to demonstrate that he has a valid claim." Satchell v. Dilworth, 745 F.2d 781, 785 (2d Cir. 1984). " Even in a pro se case, however, 'although a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint, that tenet is inapplicable to legal conclusions, and threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.'" Chavis v. Chappius, 618 F.3d 162, 170 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009)). A court may not " invent factual allegations [plaintiff] has not pled." Id.
I. Plaintiff's Motion for Recusal
In a letter dated January 1, 2015, and filed January 13, 2015, Plaintiff asks that the undersigned recuse herself from this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 455(a).
(Dkt. 142). Plaintiff alleges in a conclusory fashion that the undersigned has racial and prejudicial biases due to her recent unfavorable decision following a bench trial in a separate matter, designated by case number 01-CV-6559, and that therefore recusal is appropriate. ( Id.). Defendants have filed papers in response to the motion (Dkt. 144 at 2; Dkt. 145), and Plaintiff has filed reply papers (Dkt. 147). The recusal issue is a threshold issue that must be resolved before the Court may consider any substantive motion.
" Title 28 U.S.C. § 455(a) requires a judge to recuse [her]self 'in any proceeding in which [her] impartiality might reasonably be questioned.'" Cox v. Onondaga Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, 760 F.3d 139, 150 (2d Cir. 2014) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 455(a)). " Recusal motions 'are committed to the sound discretion of the district court. . . .'" Abidekun v. N.Y.C. Transit Auth., No. 93-CV-5600 (FB), 1998 WL 296372, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. June 4, 1998) (quoting United States v. Conte, 99 F.3d 60, 65 (2d Cir. 1996)). " In cases where a judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned, the issue for consideration is not whether the judge is in fact subjectively impartial, but whether the objective facts suggest impartiality." Williams v. LaClair, No. 9:10-CV-635(GLS/RFT), 2013 WL 1193766, at *3 (N.D.N.Y. Jan. 29, 2013) (citing Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 548, 114 S.Ct. 1147, 127 L.Ed.2d 474 (1994)).
Here, the fact that the Court reached an unfavorable decision in another, unrelated matter provides no basis for recusal. Mills v. Poole, Nos. 1:06-cv-00842-MAT-VEB, 1:11-cv-00440-MAT, 2014 WL 482937, at *6 (W.D.N.Y. Sept. 29, 2014) (" [Plaintiff's] claims of bias and impartiality on the part of the undersigned . . . are both conclusory and based entirely on his disagreement with the Court's decisions. This is an insufficient basis for recusal." ). Put simply, there is no ...