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Carter v. Bezio

United States District Court, N.D. New York

February 27, 2015

LANCE CARTER, Plaintiff,
BEZIO, Ex-Superintendent, Great Meadow Correctional Facility; M. BROCKLEY, Corrections Officer, Great Meadow Correctional Facility; RACETTE, Superintendent, Great Meadow Correctional Facility; K. ANDERSON, Corrections Officer, Great Meadow Correctional Facility; B. NORTH, Corrections Officer, Great Meadow Correctional Facility; A. CHARRON, Corrections Officer, Great Meadow Correctional Facility; C.S. COLLINS, Corrections Sergeant, Great Meadow Correctional Facility, Defendants.

LANCE CARTER, Romulus, NY, Plaintiff, Pro Se.

MELISSA A. LATINO, ESQ., Assistant Attorney General, HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, Attorney General of the State of New York, The Capitol, Albany, NY, Attorney for Defendants.


RANDOLPH F. TREECE, Magistrate Judge.

Pro se Plaintiff Lance Carter, while incarcerated at Five Points Correctional Facility, commenced this civil rights action, pursuant to § 1983, alleging that 1) on October 22, 2011, several correctional officers assaulted him in a stairwell at Great Meadow Correctional Facility; 2) Defendant Depalo was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs by minimizing the extent of his injuries in a medical report; and 3) the former and current superintendents, Bezio and Racette, respectively of Great Meadow Correctional Facility, violated the Eighth Amendment by failing to install security cameras in the Facility's stairwells and other blind spots, when they knew of the correctional officers' pervasive and routine assaults on inmates. See generally Dkt. No. 1, Compl. On March 14, 2014, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment requesting that Defendants Depalo, [1] Bezio, and Racette be dismissed with prejudice. Dkt. No. 102, Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. On September 8, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, in which he urges the Court to deny Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment based on the presence of genuine issues of material facts in this action. Dkt. No. 132-2, Pl.'s Aff. and Mem. of Law, at ¶ 21. Based on the Plaintiff's argument, it appears that Plaintiff's Cross-Motion is more properly categorized as a response in opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and the Court will treat it as such.


A. Summary Judgment Standard

Pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a), summary judgment is appropriate only where "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." The moving party bears the burden to demonstrate through "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with [ ] affidavits, if any, " that there is no genuine issue of material fact. F.D.I.C. v. Giammettei, 34 F.3d 51, 54 (2d Cir. 1994) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). "When a party has moved for summary judgment on the basis of asserted facts supported as required by [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e)] and has, in accordance with local court rules, served a concise statement of the material facts as to which it contends there exist no genuine issues to be tried, those facts will be deemed admitted unless properly controverted by the nonmoving party." Glazer v. Formica Corp., 964 F.2d 149, 154 (2d Cir. 1992).

To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the non-movant must set out specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial, and cannot rest merely on allegations or denials of the facts submitted by the movant. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); see also Scott v. Coughlin, 344 F.3d 282, 287 (2d Cir. 2003) ("Conclusory allegations or denials are ordinarily not sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment when the moving party has set out a documentary case."); Rexnord Holdings, Inc. v. Bidermann, 21 F.3d 522, 525-26 (2d Cir. 1994).

When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant. Nora Beverages, Inc. v. Perrier Group of Am., Inc., 164 F.3d 736, 742 (2d Cir. 1998). "[T]he trial court's task at the summary judgment motion stage of the litigation is carefully limited to discerning whether there are any genuine issues of material fact to be tried, not to deciding them. Its duty, in short, is confined at this point to issue-finding; it does not extend to issue-resolution." Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., Ltd. P'ship, 22 F.3d 1219, 1224 (2d Cir. 1994).

Furthermore, where a party is proceeding pro se, the court must "read [his or her] supporting papers liberally, and... interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994); accord Soto v. Walker, 44 F.3d 169, 173 (2d Cir. 1995). Nonetheless, mere conclusory allegations, unsupported by the record, are insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. See Carey v. Crescenzi, 923 F.2d 18, 21 (2d Cir. 1991). Summary judgment is appropriate "[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party.

B. Supervisory Liability

Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate Bezio's and Racette's personal involvement. The Second Circuit has held that "personal involvement of defendants in alleged constitutional deprivations is a prerequisite to an award of damages under § 1983." Wright v. Smith, 21 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). Moreover, "the doctrine of respondeat superior cannot be applied to section 1983 actions to satisfy the prerequisite of personal involvement." Kinch v. Artuz, 1997 WL 576038, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 15, 1997) (citing Colon v. Coughlin, 58 F.3d 865, 874 (2d Cir. 1995) & Wright v. Smith, 21 F.3d at 501) (further citations omitted). "[A] plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official's own individual actions, has violated the constitution." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009). An individual cannot be held liable for damages under § 1983 merely because he holds a position of authority, but he can be held liable if he was personally involved in the alleged deprivation. Colon v. Coughlin, 58 F.3d at 873 (citations omitted).

The personal involvement of a supervisory defendant may be shown by evidence that: (1) the defendant participated directly in the alleged constitutional violation, (2) the defendant, after being informed of the violation through a report or appeal, failed to remedy the wrong, (3) the defendant created a policy or custom under which unconstitutional practices occurred, or allowed the continuance of such a policy or custom, (4) the defendant was grossly negligent in supervising subordinates who committed the wrongful acts, or (5) the defendant exhibited deliberate indifference to the rights of inmates by failing to act on information indicating that unconstitutional acts were occurring. Colon v. Coughlin, 58 F.3d at 873 (citations omitted).[2]

Here, Defendant Bezio was employed by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision ("DOCCS") as the Superintendent of Great Meadow Correctional Facility from April 2010 to June 2011. Dkt. No. 102-3, Norman Bezio Decl., dated Mar. 12, 2014, at ¶ 2. In June 2011, he retired from this position, and is no longer an employee of DOCCS. Id. at ¶ 5. Thus, the Court recommends dismissing Bezio from this action as he was neither present nor ...

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