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Vail v. Smith

United States District Court, N.D. New York

February 25, 2015

TIMOTHY A. VAIL, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH SMITH, Superintendent; Shawangunk Corr. Facility; LOUIS PINGOTTI, Captain; Shawangunk Corr. Facility; PETER PRESTON, Sergeant; Shawangunk Corr. Facility; and MAUREEN BOLL, Deputy Comm'r and Counsel; Dep't of Corr. and Cmty. Supervision, Defendants.

TIMOTHY A. VAIL, Plaintiff, Pro Se Shawangunk Correctional Facility Wallkill, New York.

HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, Attorney General for the State of New York, JOSHUA E. McMAHON, ESQ., Assistant Attorney General, Albany, New York, Counsel for Defendant.

DECISION and ORDER

GLENN T. SUDDABY, District Judge.

Currently before the Court, in this prisoner civil rights action filed pro se by Timothy A. Vail ("Plaintiff") against the four above-captioned New York State correctional employees ("Defendants"), are (1) United States Magistrate Judge Randolph F. Treece's Report-Recommendation recommending that Plaintiff's Complaint be dismissed; and (2) Plaintiff's Objections to the Report-Recommendation. (Dkt. Nos. 61, 62.) For the reasons set forth below, Magistrate Judge Treece's Report-Recommendation is accepted and adopted in its entirety, and Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

For the sake of brevity, the Court will not summarize Plaintiff's claims, this action's procedural history, or the parties' arguments on Defendants' motion for summary judgment, because this Decision and Order is intended primarily for the review of the parties, and they have (in their underlying motion papers) demonstrated an accurate understanding of those facts.

Generally, in his Report-Recommendation, Magistrate Judge Treece made the following three recommendations: (1) that Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Preston, now deceased, be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 25(a)(1), based on Plaintiff's failure to file a motion for substitution within 90 days of Preston's death; (2) that Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Boll, a supervisor, be dismissed based on Plaintiff's failure to adduce admissible evidence from which a rational fact-finder could conclude that Boll was personally involved in the constitutional violations alleged; and (3) that Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Smith and Pingotti be dismissed based on Plaintiff's failure to adduce admissible evidence from which a rational factfinder conclude that his First Amendment right to the free flow of incoming and outgoing mail was violated under the circumstances (in which Smith and Pingotti have established that the policy in question is rationally related to the legitimate penological concerns of the Shawangunk Correctional Facility's administrators). (Dkt. No. 61.)

Generally, in his Objections, instead of making any arguments regarding his claims against Defendants Preston and Boll, Plaintiff makes arguments regarding his claims against Defendants Smith and Pingotti, arguing that, in support of their claim of penological justification for their envelope policy, Smith and Pingotti merely offer their own affidavits, which are unsupported by extraneous evidence (such as grievances, memoranda from staff or emergency requisition orders) and contradicted by the fact that inmates are allowed to purchase an unlimited number of manilla envelopes and send out an unlimited amount of mail each day (thus undermining any asserted problems caused by allowing inmates to purchase an unlimited number of letter-sized envelopes). (Dkt. No. 61.)

II. GOVERNING LEGAL STANDARD

When a specific objection is made to a portion of a magistrate judge's reportrecommendation, the Court subjects that portion of the report-recommendation to a de novo review. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). To be "specific, " the objection must, with particularity, "identify [1] the portions of the proposed findings, recommendations, or report to which it has an objection and [2] the basis for the objection." N.D.N.Y. L.R. 72.1(c).[1] When performing such a de novo review, "[t]he judge may... receive further evidence...." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). However, a district court will ordinarily refuse to consider evidentiary material that could have been, but was not, presented to the magistrate judge in the first instance.[2] Similarly, a district court will ordinarily refuse to consider argument that could have been, but was not, presented to the magistrate judge in the first instance. See Zhao v. State Univ. of N.Y., 04-CV-0210, 2011 WL 3610717, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 15, 2011) ("[I]t is established law that a district judge will not consider new arguments raised in objections to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation that could have been raised before the magistrate but were not.") (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); Hubbard v. Kelley, 752 F.Supp.2d 311, 312-13 (W.D.N.Y. 2009) ("In this circuit, it is established law that a district judge will not consider new arguments raised in objections to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation that could have been raised before the magistrate but were not.") (internal quotation marks omitted).

When only a general objection is made to a portion of a magistrate judge's report-recommendation, the Court subjects that portion of the report-recommendation to only a clear error review. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2), (3); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), Advisory Committee Notes: 1983 Addition; see also Brown v. Peters, 95-CV-1641, 1997 WL 599355, at *2-3 (N.D.N.Y. Sept. 22, 1997) (Pooler, J.) [collecting cases], aff'd without opinion, 175 F.3d 1007 (2d Cir. 1999). Similarly, when an objection merely reiterates the same arguments made by the objecting party in its original papers submitted to the magistrate judge, the Court subjects that portion of the report-recommendation challenged by those arguments to only a clear error review.[3] Finally, when no objection is made to a portion of a report-recommendation, the Court subjects that portion of the report-recommendation to only a clear error review. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), Advisory Committee Notes: 1983 Addition. When performing such a "clear error" review, "the court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation." Id. [4]

After conducing the appropriate review, the Court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).

III. ANALYSIS

After carefully reviewing the relevant filings in this action, the Court can find no clear error in the Report-Recommendations' findings regarding Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Preston and Boll (with which he did not take issue in his Objections). Indeed, Plaintiff has expressly conceded his lack of evidence of Defendant Boll's personal involvement in the constitutional ...


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