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Fisher v. Miller

United States District Court, N.D. New York

February 9, 2017

KEVIN FISHER, Plaintiff,
v.
MILLER, Superintendent, Great Meadow Corr. Facility; and EASTMAN, Superintendent for Security, Great Meadow Corr. Facility, Defendants.

          KEVIN FISHER, 08-A-2636 Plaintiff, Pro Se.

          HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN Attorney General for the State of New York Counsel for DefendantsBRIAN W. MATULA, ESQ. Assistant Attorney General.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          HON. GLENN T. SUDDABY Chief United States District Judge.

         Currently before the Court, in this pro se prisoner civil rights action filed by Kevin Fisher (“Plaintiff”) against the two above-captioned employees of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (“Defendants”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, are (1) Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), and (2) United States Magistrate Judge Baxter's Report-Recommendation recommending that Defendants' motion be granted in part and denied in part. (Dkt. Nos. 10, 15.) For the reasons set forth below, Magistrate Judge Baxter's Report-Recommendation is accepted and adopted; Defendants' motion is granted to the extent that it requests the dismissal of Plaintiff's claim of negligence in his Complaint; and Defendants' motion is otherwise denied.

         Generally, in his “Objection” to the Report-Recommendation, Plaintiff sets forth certain discovery demands of Defendants, and requests that the Court issue an Order directing Defendants to comply with those discovery demands. (Dkt. No. 16.)[1] Plaintiff's “Objection” does not contain a specific challenge to any portion of the Report-Recommendation. (Id.)

         When a specific objection is made to a portion of a magistrate judge's report-recommendation, 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).[2] When no objection is made to a report-recommendation, the Court subjects that 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.; see also Batista v. Walker, 94-CV-2826, 1995 WL 453299, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 31, 1995) (Sotomayor, J.) (“I am permitted to adopt those sections of [a magistrate judge's] report to which no specific objection is made, so long as those sections are not facially erroneous.”) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         After carefully reviewing the relevant papers herein, including Magistrate Judge Baxter's thorough Report-Recommendation, the Court can find no clear-error in the Report-Recommendation. Magistrate Judge Baxter employed the proper standards, accurately recited the facts, and reasonably applied the law to those facts. As a result, the Report-Recommendation is accepted and adopted for the reasons set forth therein. To those reasons, the Court adds the following two points.

         First, to the extent note 2 of the Report-Recommendation may be read to suggest that the integrality exception to the “four corners” rule is an alternative to the knowledge-or-possession exception to that rule, the Court construes the latter (i.e., knowledge or possession) to be a requirement of the former (i.e., integrality).[3] This is because, to be “integral” to a complaint, a document's terms and effect must be relied on heavily by the complaint.[4] Setting aside the fact that a plaintiff's heavy reliance on a document implies his possession or at the very least knowledge of the document, the Second Circuit has explained that “mere notice or possession is not enough” to constitute an exception to the “four corners” rule.[5] However, here, this point of clarification is of little significance, because the Court finds that both requirements (i.e., knowledge / possession and heavy reliance) have been met with regard to Plaintiff's grievance and appeal therefrom. While the mere mention of Plaintiff's grievance and appeal in Paragraph 4 of the form Complaint is not enough to render the documents heavily relied upon (because alleging successful exhaustion is not necessary to state a claim), Plaintiff also alleges, in his “Fourth Cause of Action” and “Fifth Cause of Action, ” that Defendants knowingly “continue” to fail to properly screen inmates. (Dkt. No. 1, at 6.)

         Second, to the extent that pages 14 through 16 of the Report-Recommendation rely on the difference between the standard under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 and the standard under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court construes that difference to be minimal. This is because the former turns on whether a finding of liability on a claim would be rational based on material facts that are undisputed in a record while the latter turns on whether a claim has been plausibly suggested by factual allegations that are assumed to be true. In short, the standards are analogous in that “both rationality and plausiblity share the characteristic of reasonableness.” See, e.g., Morgan v. Luft, 15-CV-0024, 2016 WL 1118452, at *4 (N.D.N.Y. March 22, 2016) (Suddaby, C.J.). However, again, this point of clarification is of little significance, because the Court finds that facts have been alleged in the Complaint plausibly suggesting that Defendants acted with a mental state greater than carelessness.

         ACCORDINGLY, it is

         ORDERED that Magistrate Judge Baxter's Report-Recommendation (Dkt. No. 15) is ACCEPTED and ADOPTED; and it is further

         ORDERED that Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (Dkt. No. 10) is GRANTED in part in that Plaintiffs Complaint (Dkt. No. 1) is DISMISSED to the extent that it asserts a claim of negligence; and it is further

         ORDERED that Defendants' motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 10) is otherwise DENIED;

         ORDERED that Defendants file an answer to the Plaintiffs Complaint within 14 days of the date of this Decision & Order pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 12(a)(4)(a) and this case is referred back to Magistrate ...


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