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Samuels v. Prack

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 8, 2017

KENNETH SAMUELS, Plaintiff,
v.
ALBERT PRACK, Director of Special Housing; C. GAMBLE, Correction Sergeant; CORRECTION CAPTAIN R. BRERETON; CORRECTION SERGEANT K. WHITE; CORRECTION OFFICER L. GOULD; T. BELLINGER, Correction Officer; R. WOODY, JR., Correction Officer; CORRECTION OFFICER C. DOWTIN; CORRECTIONAL OFFICER J. FREEMAN; CORRECTIONAL SGT. SHRADER; CORRECTIONAL OFFICER S. LUCIANO; BRIAN FISCHER, Commissioner of DOCS; PHILIP D. HEATH, Superintendent; M. BARNES, Correction Sergeant; D. KEYSOR, Deputy Superintendent, Defendants.

          Kenneth Samuels Malone, NY Pro Se Plaintiff.

          Mary Kim, Esq. New York State Office of the Attorney General New York, NY Counsel for Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER

          KENNETH M. KARAS, District Judge.

         Plaintiff Kenneth Samuels (“Plaintiff”) brings this action against Defendants Albert Prack, C. Gamble, Correction Captain R. Brereton, Correction Sergeant K. White, Correction Officer L. Gould, T. Bellinger, R. Woody, Jr., Correction Officer C. Dowtin, Correctional Officer J. Freeman, Correctional Sgt. Schrader, Correctional Officer S. Luciano, Brian Fischer, Philip D. Heath, M. Barnes, and D. Keysor alleging violations of his constitutional and statutory rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants Fischer, Heath, Keyser, [1] and Barnes (collectively, “Moving Defendants”) have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint against them for failure to state a claim. For the reasons to follow, the Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         The following facts are taken from the Second Amended Complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of this Motion. At the time of the events described herein, Plaintiff was an inmate at Sing Sing Correctional Facility (“Sing Sing”). (Second Am. Compl. 2 (Dkt. No. 90).)

         With one exception, noted below, the facts alleged in the Second Amended Complaint relating to the incident on November 16, 2010, which gave rise to the claims in this case, and the proceedings arising from that incident are identical to those facts alleged in the First Amended Complaint.

         1. The Alleged Assault

         On November 16, 2010, Plaintiff entered the B-block housing unit, from which he took his shower gear, and went to the Q-Gallery to wait in line for the “bathhouse run.” (Id. ¶ 43.) After waiting in line for at least 20 minutes, Plaintiff asked Defendant Woody what the hold-up was. (Id. ¶ 44.) Woody told him that A-Block was running prisoners to the auditorium for movies. (Id.) Plaintiff then asked Woody if he could return to his cell, skipping the bathhouse, and go to the yard when the bathhouse returned. (Id.) Woody said no, telling Plaintiff that because he put down for the bathhouse, he had to go to it. (Id.)

         Ten minutes later, an announcement was made instructing all prisoners waiting for the bathhouse run to return all cigarettes to their cells. (See id.) Plaintiff and several other prisoners went to the back of the Q-Gallery, where Plaintiff showed Defendant Bellinger his cigarettes. (Id. ¶ 45.) Bellinger waved Plaintiff and other inmates through. (Id.) Plaintiff then returned the cigarettes to his cell on W-Gallery. (Id.) Upon returning, Plaintiff heard Dawtin call down to Bellinger, instructing him to stop the inmate coming off of R-Gallery, apparently in reference to Plaintiff. (See id.)[2] Bellinger told Dawtin that Plaintiff had just returned cigarettes to his cell on W-Gallery, but Dawtin replied that he did not call W-Gallery, telling Bellinger to send Plaintiff back. (Id.) Plaintiff attempted to explain to Dawtin that he had been in the Q-Gallery waiting for the bathhouse run prior to the announcement. (Id.) Dawtin cut Plaintiff off, saying that he did not call W-Gallery, instructing Plaintiff to “take it back and lock it in.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff then proceeded back down the gallery to his cell while speaking to Bellinger, during which time Woody sarcastically told Plaintiff that he should not have put down for the bathhouse anyway. (Id. ¶ 46.) Plaintiff responded, saying, “no one[']s talking to you[;] mind your fucking business.” (Id.) While Plaintiff was waiting for Gould to open his cell, Plaintiff saw Woody, Dawtin, and Bellinger approaching. (Id. ¶ 47.) Plaintiff put his hands on the fenced gate, but Woody said that it was “to[o] late for that” and began pushing Plaintiff back in the direction from which he had come. (Id.) Gould stood in the middle of the W-Gallery while Plaintiff was being pushed and shoved down the gallery. (Id.) At that time, Woody, Dawtin, and Bellinger began punching Plaintiff and striking him on the back of the head. (Id.) Plaintiff turned around and said that all of this was unnecessary. (Id.) Woody, Dawtin, and Bellinger continued throwing punches, striking Plaintiff around the face. (Id.) Plaintiff then tried to flee, but Woody grabbed him by the collar of his shirt as Bellinger and Dawtin drew their batons. (See id.) Plaintiff, fearing for his life, attempted to break Woody's hold on his collar, but could not. (Id.) Plaintiff, fearing further assault, attempted to defend himself, successfully blocking with his arm a blow toward his head from Bellinger's baton. (Id.) Dawtin then rammed his baton into Plaintiff's forehead, causing Plaintiff's head to snap back and his shirt to rip. (See id.) As Plaintiff stumbled back, Woody struck Plaintiff on the head with his baton, causing Plaintiff to fall to the ground. (Id.) As Plaintiff tried to get up, he was repeatedly struck on the head and arms. (Id.)

         The attack continued until Barnes, who repeatedly ordered Woody, Dawtin, and Bellinger to stop, said, “that's enough[;] that's enough.” (See Id. ¶ 48.) During that time, Gould watched, doing nothing to stop the assault. (Id.) Plaintiff was then handcuffed, shoved down a flight of stairs, and pushed up against a wall. (Id.) Gamble shouted, “[W]hy is he still standing[?] [W]hy is he still breathing?” (Id.) Plaintiff was then made to stand in the back of the shower, bleeding and in agonizing pain for 20 minutes before being taken to medical staff. (Id.)

         Here, Plaintiff adds an allegation not found in his First Amended Complaint:

Prior to the assault, [D]efendant Barnes was sitting in a chair on Q-Gallery and observed Plaintiff cross from R-Gallery to W-Gallery. Barnes upon witnessing [D]efendants Woody, Dowtin and Bellinger, [s]pecifically Woody and Dowtin[, ] knew or should have known based on his knowledge of prior incidents involving Dowtin and/or Woody, that Plaintiff would likely be assaulted. Barnes could have intervene[d] to stop the assault before it happened. Barnes['] failure to exercise reasonable judgment based on the history of [D]efendants Woody and Dowtin shows a reckless disregard and/or deliberate indifference for the basic civil right[s] of Plaintiff.

(Id. ¶ 49.)

         Plaintiff was then examined by C. Nugent, a medical staff nurse, who told Plaintiff that he would be taken to an outside hospital. (Id. ¶ 50.) Schrader, Freeman, and Luciano then shackled Plaintiff and placed him in a van, where Plaintiff sat at a Sing Sing check point for several hours, during which time Plaintiff was bleeding and in excruciating pain before being taken to the Mount Vernon Emergency Room. (Id.) Once there, Plaintiff was treated and received seven sutures to close the wounds to his head. (Id.) As a result of the alleged assault, Plaintiff alleges that he suffered contusions as well as bleeding lacerations and abrasions on his head with swelling and abrasions to his arms and neck. (Id. at Dkt. No. 90-2, unnumbered 2.) As a result of the injuries to his head, Plaintiff was still receiving pain medication at the time of the Second Amended Complaint. (Id.)

         2. Proceedings Brought By and Against Plaintiff

         On November 17, 2010, in what Plaintiff alleges was an “effort to shield the unwarranted, unprovoked assault, ” Plaintiff was issued two “Misbehavior Reports” dated November 16, 2010, claiming that he violated various rules of inmate behavior and charging him with two counts of violent conduct (Rule 104.11), two counts of creating a disturbance (Rule 104.13), two counts of assault on staff (Rule 100.11), “[i]nterference with [e]mployee, ” two counts of refusing direct orders (Rule 106.10), “[o]ut of [p]lace” (Rule 109.10), and a movement regulation violation (Rule 109.12). (Id. ¶ 51.) Lieutenant Pickens reviewed the misbehavior reports “allegedly written by [D]efendants Woody[] [and] Bellinger, ” and ordered Plaintiff confined to the special housing unit (“SHU”). (Id. ¶ 52.)

         Heath designated Brereton to serve as the hearing officer for Plaintiff's disciplinary hearing, (id.), and, on November 21, 2010, Brereton commenced the “Tier III” hearing, in which Plaintiff entered a plea of not guilty to each of the charges. (Id. ¶ 53.) Plaintiff asked for help obtaining documents and locating and interviewing witnesses; accordingly, Brereton assigned White to assist Plaintiff. (Id.) On November 23, 2010, Brereton concluded the hearing and found Plaintiff guilty of violent conduct (Rule 104.11), creating a disturbance (Rule 104.13), two counts of assault on staff (Rule 100.11), two counts of refusing a direct order (Rule 106.10), a movement regulation violation (Rule 109.12), and interference with employee (Rule 107.10). (Id ...


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