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Wiggins v. Carlos Figueroa #6467

United States District Court, E.D. New York

February 18, 2015

RODNEY WIGGINS, Plaintiff,
v.
CARLOS FIGUEROA #6467 and BRIAN FERRICK #2819, Defendants.

Rodney Wiggins, pro se, Gouvernour Correctional Facility, Gouvernour, NY, for Plaintiff.

Richard H. Yorke, Esq., Benjamin Rodkin, Esq., New York State Attorney General's Office, Mineola, NY, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

JOANNA SEYBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Rodney Wiggins ("Plaintiff") commenced this action on March 23, 2013 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights against the use of excessive force during a confrontation in an elevator on March 7, 2013. Pending before the Court is defendants Carlos Figueroa ("Figueroa") and Brian Ferrick's ("Ferrick" and together with Figueroa, "Defendants") motion to dismiss the Complaint. (Docket Entry 20.) For the foregoing reasons, Defendants' motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

I. Conversion to Summary Judgment

Defendants' motion to dismiss relies heavily upon sworn statements made during Plaintiff's plea allocution hearing. (See Plea Hearing Transcript, Docket Entry 20-3 ("Plea Hr'g Tr.").) Since the motion relies on information outside of the pleadings, the Court must first address whether to treat Defendants' motion as a motion to dismiss or as a motion for summary judgment. The Second Circuit has held that "[w]hen a motion to dismiss presents material outside the pleadings, a district court may convert the motion into one for summary judgment provided that the non-moving party receives notice and an opportunity to respond." Cancel v. Amakwe, 551 F.Appx. 4, 5 (2d Cir. 2013) (citations omitted). In addition, Local Civil Rule 12.1 requires a represented party, who moves to dismiss against a pro se party and who relies on matters outside the pleadings, to serve and file a form notice advising the pro se party that the complaint may be dismissed if the pro se litigant does not respond to the motion "by filing sworn affidavits as required by Rule 56(c) and/or other documents." LOCALCIV. R. 12.1.

Here, the Court will exercise its discretion to convert Defendants' motion to dismiss to a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Conversion is proper because Defendants provided Plaintiff with a Local Civil Rule 12.1 notice. See Hernández v. Coffey, 582 F.3d 303, 308 n.2 (2d Cir. 2009) (citing cases holding that a Local Civil Rule 12.1 notice provides sufficient notice to pro se parties that the motion to dismiss may be converted to one for summary judgment).

II. Factual Background

Plaintiff alleges that on March 7, 2013, following an appearance in court, he was traveling in an elevator with Defendants Figueroa and Ferrick. (Compl. ¶ IV.) Plaintiff was restrained by handcuffs, leg irons, and a belly strap with two padlocks. (Compl. ¶ IV.) Plaintiff alleges that he asked Figueroa to tell him the date of his next court appearance and Figueroa ordered Plaintiff in a "high tone" to face the wall. (Compl. ¶ IV.) Plaintiff obeyed, but as he turned around he began "giggling." (Compl. ¶ IV.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants then pulled him down by his leg irons causing him to hit his face on the elevator floor. Ferrick then purportedly held Plaintiff down while Figueroa repeatedly punched Plaintiff in the face. (Compl. ¶ IV.) Plaintiff claims that when the elevator "got stuck" he commented that he thought Figueroa was a "big guy" because he was "beating someone who [could not] fight back." (Compl. ¶ IV.) Figueroa then allegedly started punching Plaintiff in the face again, causing Plaintiff's nose to bleed. Following the event, Plaintiff went to the hospital. (Compl. ¶ IV(a).) Plaintiff claims that his nose was bleeding, his eye was swollen, and that he had "shirt burn marks" on his back. (Compl. ¶ IV(a).)

On May 3, 2013, Plaintiff appeared before Justice Mark D. Cohan in Suffolk County Criminal Court and pleaded guilty to two counts of Assault in the Second Degree. (Plea Hr'g Tr. at 1, 20:9-22.) Plaintiff testified that he was brought to the Suffolk County criminal courthouse for an appearance on March 7, 2013. (Plea Hr'g Tr. at 16.) Following the appearance Plaintiff admitted riding in an elevator escorted by Defendants. (Plea Hr'g Tr. at 16:18-22.) Plaintiff then made the following admissions about what happened in the elevator:

[THE PROSECUTOR]: And in an attempt to prevent Court Officers Brian Ferrick and Carlos Figueroa from transporting you back to the jail from which you were brought, did you lunge at them in the elevator, kicking them and elbowing them?
...
THE DEFENDANT: Yes. [THE PROSECUTOR]: And did you lunge at those officers, kicking them and elbowing them in an attempt to prevent them from moving you back ...

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