United States District Court, S.D. New York
ANGEL D. LEBRON, JR., Plaintiff,
SGT MICHAEL F. MRZYGLOD; C.O. RYDER S. BADER; C.O. WILLIAM J. WILLIAMS; C.O. BARRY A. STEVENS; C.O. RYAN A. KELLY; HEARING OFFICER B. LEVINE; ALBERT PRACK; BRIAN FISCHER, Commissioner of NYS Dept. of NYS DOCS; SUPT. W. LEE, of Green Haven Facility; CLIFFORD K. GUNSELT, individually and in their official capacities, Defendants.
D. Lebron, Jr. Coxsackie, NY Pro Se Plaintiff Neil Shevlin,
York State Office of the Attorney General New York, NY
Counsel for Defendants
OPINION & ORDER
KENNETH M. KARAS, District Judge
D. Lebron, Jr. (“Plaintiff”), an inmate
proceeding pro se, brought this suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 alleging that Defendants violated his
constitutional rights when he was assaulted without cause and
punished for his alleged misbehavior. (See Am.
Compl. (Dkt. No. 47).) Although most of Defendants have filed
their answer, Defendants Lee, Prack, and Fischer
(collectively, “Moving Defendants”) have moved to
dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint on the grounds that
Plaintiff has failed to allege personal involvement by Moving
Defendants in the alleged constitutional violations and that
Moving Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity.
(See Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. To Dismiss Am.
Compl. by Defs. Lee, Prack, & Fischer (“Defs.'
Mem.”) (Dkt. No. 55).) For the reasons below, the
Motion is granted in part and denied in part.
following facts are taken from Plaintiffs Amended Complaint
and are presumed true for purposes of the Motion.
December 26, 2013, while incarcerated at Green Haven
Correctional Facility, Plaintiff was called out with 50 or 60
other inmates. (See Am. Compl. ¶ 1.) After
Plaintiff passed through the gate area, a correction officer
instructed Plaintiff to sit in the metal detector chair.
(See id ¶ 2.) Plaintiff complied, and no
contraband was found. (See id) Plaintiff was then
told to approach the wall for a pat-frisk and to remove all
objects out of his pockets. (See id ¶ 3.)
Plaintiff complied and was then told to place his hands on
the wall, spread his legs open, and stretch his body outward
until he was on his toes. (See id ¶¶ 4-5.)
Plaintiff was patted down, but the correction officer did not
find anything. (See Id. ¶ 6.) After the
pat-frisk was completed, the officer swiped Plaintiffs legs
from underneath him and Plaintiff fell to the floor. (See
Id. ¶ 7.) While on the floor, Plaintiff began to
feel numerous punches and kicks that, he believes, were
caused by more than one officer. (See Id.
¶¶ 8-9.) Plaintiff alleges that the officers
assaulting him were Defendants Bader, Gunselt, Williams, and
Stevens. (See Id. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff specifically
notes that Stevens left his assigned area without permission
to join in the assault. (See Id. ¶ 13.) During
the assault, Bader and Gunselt held Plaintiffs body down and
pulled his head up so that Defendant Mrzyglod, another
correction officer, could punch Plaintiff in the eye until
Plaintiff could no longer open it. (See Id.
after this incident, although Plaintiff does not specify how
long, Plaintiff was escorted to the Special Housing Unit
(“SHU”) by Bader, Stevens, Gunselt, and Mrzyglod.
(See Id. ¶ 16.) On the way, Plaintiff swung his
leg out, and Stevens claimed that Plaintiff struck him in the
groin. (See Id. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff was again put
down on the ground forcibly, this time by Defendants Kelly,
Gunselt, and Bader. (See Id. ¶ 18.) Plaintiff
was then processed for his entry into the SHU and was seen by
two nurses, but was not given any medication. (See Id.
¶ 19.) Plaintiff was put in a cell without any
medical attention for several hours before being taken to the
medical department. (See Id. ¶ 20.) There, he
was seen by a nurse, but he did not receive any medication or
treatment. (See id.) Plaintiff was put on a tele-med
interview with a doctor from Erie County Medical Center and
was taken to Putnam Hospital Center to have his injuries
evaluated. (See Id. ¶ 21.) As a result of these
incidents, Plaintiff was placed in the SHU for 14 months, was
denied recreational and educational opportunities, and
subsequently was moved to a facility much farther away from
his family. (See Id. ¶¶ 26-27.)
believes that Mrzyglod planned the initial assault on
December 26 in retaliation for an earlier confrontation
between Plaintiff and Mrzyglod wherein Plaintiff refused to
say “please” when asking for permission to use
the restroom. (See Id. ¶¶ 30-36.)
Plaintiff alleges that after this confrontation, Mrzyglod
told Plaintiff that he was going to “get” him.
(See Id. ¶ 29.) Plaintiff further alleges that
the five officers who assaulted him lied about the incident,
falsified the incident report, and testified untruthfully at
Plaintiffs disciplinary hearing. (See Id. ¶
40.) Plaintiff points out that no alarm was raised during the
altercation, a fact he finds suspicious because the officers
alleged that he had a weapon. (See Id. ¶ 41.)
names Defendant Levine as a defendant because, as the hearing
officer at Plaintiffs disciplinary hearing, he failed to
fully investigate the incident and denied Plaintiffs requests
to call various witnesses. (See Id. ¶¶
46-47.) Plaintiff posits that had Levine conducted a thorough
investigation, the outcome of his hearing may have been
different. (See Id. ¶ 51.) Plaintiff also names
Defendant Lee, the superintendent of Green Haven, as a
defendant because Lee allegedly overlooked the unusual
features of the incident report. (See Id. ¶
52.) Plaintiff also points out that two weeks prior to the
incident, he sent Lee a grievance expressing fear that he
would be assaulted because of the threat Mrzyglod made
against him. (See Id. ¶ 53.) Plaintiff names
Defendant Prack because he heard the appeal from the
disciplinary hearing and failed to reverse the decision.
(See Id. ¶ 54.) Plaintiff alleges that Prack
failed to fully investigate the matter and that had Prack
carefully read everything, he would have realized that the
incident report was fabricated. (See Id.
¶¶ 54-55.) Finally, Plaintiff names Defendant
Fischer, the former Commissioner of the New York State
Department of Correctional Services, because “he is
responsible for the safety of all the inmates” and he
was aware that inmates were being victimized by correction
officers. (See Id. ¶ 58.)
filed his initial Complaint on December 31, 2014.
(See Compl. (Dkt. No. 1).) On December 2, 2015,
Plaintiff was granted leave to file an amended Complaint,
(see Order (Dkt. No. 46)), and Plaintiff filed his
Amended Complaint on January 15, 2016, (see Dkt. No.
47). On February 25, 2016, the nonmoving Defendants filed
their Answer. (See Dkt. No. 50.) On February 26,
2016, Moving Defendants were granted leave to file their
Motion To Dismiss. (See Memo Endorsement (Dkt. No.
53).) Moving Defendants filed the Motion and supporting
papers on March 17, 2016. (See Defs.' First Mot.
To Dismiss Am. Compl. (Dkt. No. 54); Defs.' Mem.)
Plaintiff filed his opposition on March 31, 2016.
(See Pl.'s Opp'n to First Mot. To Dismiss
Am. Compl. (Dkt. No. 56).) On April 18, 2016, Moving
Defendants advised the Court that they did not intend to file
a reply brief. (See Letter from Neil Shevlin, Esq.,
to Court (Apr. 18, 2016) (Dkt. No. 57).)
Standard of Review The Supreme Court has held that
although a complaint “does not need detailed factual
allegations” to survive a motion to dismiss, “a
plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his
entitlement to relief requires more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration and
internal quotation marks omitted). Indeed, Rule 8 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “demands more than an
accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). “Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders
naked assertions devoid of further factual
enhancement.” Id. (alteration and internal
quotation marks omitted). Rather, a complaint's
“[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Although “once a
claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by
showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in
the complaint, ” id. at 563, and a plaintiff
must allege “only enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face, ” id. at
570, if a plaintiff has not “nudged [his] claims across
the line from conceivable to plausible, the complaint must
be dismissed, ” id.; see also Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 679 (“Determining whether a complaint
states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense. But where
the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more
than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the
pleader is entitled to relief.'” (second alteration
in original) (citation omitted) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2))); id. at 678-79 (“Rule 8 marks a
notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical,
code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it does not unlock
the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing
more than conclusions.”).
ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must
accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in
the complaint, ” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007), and “draw all reasonable inferences in
favor of the plaintiff, ” Daniel v. T & M Prot.
Res., Inc., 992 F.Supp.2d 302, 304 n.1 (S.D.N.Y. 2014)
(citing Koch v. Christie's Int'l PLC, 699
F.3d 141, 145 (2d Cir. 2012)). Additionally, “[i]n
adjudicating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a district court must
confine its consideration to facts stated on the face of the
complaint, in documents appended to the complaint or
incorporated in the complaint by reference, and to matters of
which judicial notice may be ...