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Porter v. Uhler

United States District Court, N.D. New York

February 7, 2017

LARRY PORTER, Plaintiff,
v.
DONALD UHLER, et. al., Defendants.

          LARRY PORTER Plaintiff Pro se Upstate Correctional Facility

          DECISION AND ORDER

          MAE A. D'AGOSTINO United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Presently before the Court is a complaint filed in June 2016 by pro se plaintiff Larry Porter ("plaintiff") in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ("Southern District"). Dkt. No. 1 ("Compl."). By Order filed on January 10, 2017, Chief United States District Judge Colleen McMahon of the Southern District transferred this action to the Northern District of New York ("Northern District"). Dkt. No. 4 ("Transfer Order"). Plaintiff, who is presently incarcerated at Upstate Correctional Facility ("Upstate C.F.") has paid the full filing fee of $400.00.[1]

         II. INITIAL SCREENING

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, a court must review any "complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity" and must "identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint . . . is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or . . . seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also Carr v. Dvorin, 171 F.3d 115, 116 (2d Cir. 1999) (per curiam) (Section 1915A applies to all actions brought by prisoners against government officials even when plaintiff paid the filing fee).

         When reviewing a complaint, the court may also look to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a pleading that sets forth a claim for relief shall contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The purpose of Rule 8 "is to give fair notice of the claim being asserted so as to permit the adverse party the opportunity to file a responsive answer, prepare an adequate defense and determine whether the doctrine of res judicata is applicable." Hudson v. Artuz, No. 95 CIV. 4768, 1998 WL 832708, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 30, 1998) (quoting Brown v. Califano, 75 F.R.D. 497, 498 (D.D.C. 1977)).

         A court should not dismiss a complaint if the plaintiff has stated "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court should construe the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Id. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "[W]here 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.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2)). Rule 8 "demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         While pro se parties are held to less stringent pleading standards, the Second Circuit has held that "district courts may dismiss a frivolous complaint sua sponte even when the plaintiff has paid the required filing fee." See Fitzgerald v. First E. Seventh St. Tenants Corp., 221 F.3d 362, 363 (2d Cir. 2000). Indeed, "district courts are especially likely to be exposed to frivolous actions and, thus, have [a] need for inherent authority to dismiss such actions quickly in order to preserve scarce judicial resources." Id. at 364. A cause of action is properly deemed frivolous "where it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).

         III. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which establishes a cause of action for "'the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws' of the United States." German v. Fed. Home Loan Mortgage Corp., 885 F.Supp. 537, 573 (S.D.N.Y. 1995) (citing Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983)) (footnote omitted); see also Myers v. Wollowitz, No. 6:95-CV-0272 (TJM/RWS), 1995 WL 236245, at *2 (N.D.N.Y. Apr. 10, 1995) (stating that "§ 1983 is the vehicle by which individuals may seek redress for alleged violations of their constitutional rights." (citation omitted)). "Section 1983 itself creates no substantive rights, [but] . . . only a procedure for redress for the deprivation of rights established elsewhere." Sykes v. James, 13 F.3d 515, 519 (2d Cir. 1993) (citation omitted).

         Plaintiff sets forth claims arising out of his confinement in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision ("DOCCS"). In the complaint, plaintiff refers to a lawsuit filed in March 2011 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.[2] Compl. at 5. The lawsuit was filed by inmates against various DOCCS officials claiming that lengthy confinements in the Special Housing Unit ("SHU") created an unconstitutional risk of harm to inmates.[3] Id. The plaintiffs in that action sought injunctive and declaratory relief. Id. In March 2014 and June 2014, plaintiff received two letters from attorneys affiliated with the New York Civil Liberties Union ("NYCLU"), advising plaintiff of the aforementioned § 1983 class action. Compl. at 5-6. In a letter dated October 21, 2014, Elena Landriscina, Esq. informed plaintiff that the class action did not include a claim for money damages. Id. at 6.

         Plaintiff claims that he has been confined to disciplinary segregation in the SHU for the last twenty-seven years. Compl. at 6. Plaintiff was sentenced to SHU confinement in October 1989 and is not expected to be released until November 2018.[4] Id. Plaintiff alleges that he has been subjected to "prolonged" and "extreme" isolation and inhumane conditions. Id. at 6, 7. Plaintiff has been denied commissary, recreation, personal clothing, and telephone privileges. Id. at 7. Plaintiff alleges that defendant Donald Uhler ("Uhler"), the Superintendent at Upstate C.F., supervised and controlled the SHU and refuses to "cut" plaintiff's SHU time. Compl. at 7. Plaintiff also asserts that defendant Commissioner Anthony Annucci ("Annucci") is aware of the widespread DOCCS policy encouraging the use of SHU confinement because Annucci was a defendant in the Southern District action. Id. at 5-6. Plaintiff claims that his Fourteenth and Eighth Amendment rights were violated and seeks monetary damages. See Compl., generally.

         IV. ...


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