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Bellamy v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 13, 2017

JAMES BELLAMY, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK; HAZEL JENNINGS, Chief of Security Operations; ANDREA HALL, Executive Officer of O.S.I.U.; ANNA PRESLEY, Captain of O.S.I.U.; JANE GAMBLE, Bronx Court Captain; JANE LITTLE, Correction Officer; and JANE SOTO, Correction Officer, individually and in their official capacities, Defendants.

          For the plaintiff: Pro Se James Bellamy

          For the defendants: Agnetha Elizabeth Jacob

          OPINION AND ORDER

          DENISE COTE, United States District Judge

         Through a complaint received on February 2, 2016, James Bellamy (“Bellamy”) alleges violations of his rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments by correctional officers and supervisors while he was a pretrial detainee at the Manhattan Detention Complex (the “MDC”). On July 15, 2016, the defendants moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[1] For the following reasons, the defendants’ motion is granted.

         Background

         These facts are taken from the complaint and the exhibits attached to it, unless otherwise noted. At all relevant times, Bellamy has been and is in the custody of the New York City Department of Correction (the “DOC”) as a pretrial detainee. By order dated June 17, 2014 (the “Detention Order”), Justice Steven Barrett of the New York Supreme Court, Bronx County, imposed a range of conditions upon Bellamy’s detention, including restrictions on Bellamy’s movement and transportation.[2] In particular, the Detention Order required that the DOC transport Bellamy in handcuffs and apart from other inmates “in order to assure, to the extent possible, that he is unable to converse with other inmates or to pass any threats.” It also required the DOC to search Bellamy “immediately prior to leaving the facility where he is housed and promptly upon his return to the facility.”

         Chief of Security Operations Hazel Jennings (“Jennings”) reviewed the Detention Order and designated Bellamy as a Centrally Monitored Case (“CMC”) subject to non-routine restraints during transportation, including a waist chain and leg irons. These restraints were not among the ones enumerated in the Detention Order. Bellamy asserts that, in violation of DOC policy, Jennings did not provide Bellamy with a hearing to address imposition of these restraints. Executive Officer of the Operations Security Intelligence Unit (“OSIU”) Andrea Hall (“Hall”) served Bellamy with a form indicating that Hall had conducted an initial review of Jennings’ determination, as well as recurring review forms every 28 days thereafter. Bellamy speculates that Hall did not actually conduct the reviews.

         On July 31, 2015, Officers Jane Little (“Little”) and Jane Soto (“Soto”) arrived to transport Bellamy from the Bronx County Supreme Court back to the MDC. Little and Soto sought to restrain Bellamy using handcuffs and a black security cuff box (a “cuff box”), which is typically used on CMC-designated detainees. Bellamy informed Little and Soto that he had previously sustained a wrist injury as the result of being restrained in a cuff box. He also informed them that neither the Detention Order nor the form issued by Jennings required the use of a cuff box and requested that one not be used during the transport. Little and another correctional officer each called OSIU Captain Anne Presley (“Presley”) to inquire about Bellamy’s request, and Presley determined that Bellamy would be restrained using a cuff box and, if necessary, physical force would be used to secure the box. Over Bellamy’s objections, Little and Soto put the cuff box on him. Even before boarding the transport van, Bellamy demonstrated to Soto that the box was causing his hands to swell. The swelling continued, and Bellamy was in pain and lost all feeling in his hands. He received medical attention upon arrival at the MDC.

         On October 5, 2015, Bellamy returned to the Bronx County Supreme Court, where Captain Jane Gamble (“Gamble”) directed officers to perform several searches on him, including (1) a scan by a body-orifice security scanner, (2) a pass through a metal detector, (3) an X-ray scan of his shoes, and (4) a strip search. After clearing the first three of these scans, Bellamy objected to the strip search. He explained to Gamble that on a previous occasion he had successfully challenged a strip search in an adjudication hearing, at which it was determined that a strip search was neither required by the Detention Order nor reasonable in light of the other search methods imposed. Nevertheless, Gamble insisted upon a strip search on the basis that Bellamy had a CMC classification, and she threatened to use physical force and pepper spray to effect the search. The strip search was conducted in view of the facility’s security camera.

         Bellamy attempted on five occasions between July and October 2015 to appeal his CMC designation, detailing the aforementioned non-routine restraints and strip search. He received no response to his appeals, and no due process hearing was ever conducted concerning the CMC designation.

         Bellamy filed his complaint on February 2, 2016. He brings claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for constitutional violations arising from his CMC designation, the use of additional restraints, and the strip search. The defendants filed their motion to dismiss on July 15. Judge Francis granted two requests by Bellamy to extend the time for him to respond to the defendants’ motion, ultimately until October 31. To date, Bellamy has not filed an opposition. This action was reassigned to this Court on November 22, 2016.

         Discussion

         When deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P., a court “must accept all allegations in the complaint as true and draw all inferences in the non-moving party's favor.” LaFaro v. N.Y. Cardiothoracic Grp., PLLC, 570 F.3d 471, 475 (2d Cir. 2009). “To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must allege sufficient facts which, taken as true, state a plausible claim for relief.” Keiler v. Harlequin Enters. Ltd., 751 F.3d 64, 68 (2d Cir. 2014); accord Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted) (“[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.”). “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.” Parkcentral Glob. Hub Ltd. v. Porsche Auto. Holdings SE, 763 F.3d 198, 208 (2d Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (citation omitted). As a pro se litigant, Bellamy is entitled to “special solicitude,” and the court will construe the “complaint to raise the strongest claims that it suggests.” Williams v. Priatno, 829 F.3d 118, 122 (2d Cir. 2016) (citation omitted).

         I. Use ...


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