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Young v. Graham

United States District Court, N.D. New York

March 27, 2017

PETER YOUNG, Plaintiff,
v.
GRAHAM, Superintendent; BROWER; SGT. CHANDLER; OFFICER CASLER; HEATH; OFFICER FAGEN; VASILE; and BRIAN FISCHER, Defendants.

          PETER YOUNG Plaintiff pro se

          OFFICE OF THE NEW YORK AIMEE M. PAQUETTE, AAG STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL Syracuse Regional Office Attorneys for Defendants

          MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

          Mae A. D'Agostino, U.S. District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pro se Plaintiff Peter Young, formerly an inmate in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, commenced this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on September 13, 2012, asserting claims arising out of his confinement at Auburn Correctional Facility ("Auburn C.F."). See Dkt. No. 1. After the Court dismissed the original complaint on initial review, Plaintiff timely filed an amended complaint. See Dkt. Nos. 26 & 30. Following initial review of the amended complaint, the Court found that the following claims survived initial review and required a response: (1) First Amendment retaliation claim against Defendants Fischer, Graham, Brower, Chandler, Casler, Heath, and Fagen; (2) First Amendment legal mail interference claim against Defendants Fischer, Graham, Chandler, Casler, and Heath; (3) First Amendment denial of access to the court claim against Defendants Graham, Chandler, Casler, and Heath; (4) Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claim against Defendants Fischer, Brower, and Chandler; (5) Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against Defendants Fischer, Graham, and Vasile; (6) Fourteenth Amendment forced medical care claim against Defendant Graham; and (7) Fourteenth Amendment deprivation of personal property claim against Defendant Graham. See Dkt. No. 44 at 29-30.

         On June 3, 2016, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff's claims are meritless and that Plaintiff has failed to establish the personal involvement of Defendants Fischer, Graham, Chandler, and Vasile. See Dkt. No. 139. In an Order and Report-Recommendation dated March 6, 2017, Magistrate Judge Dancks recommended that the Court grant in part and deny in part Defendants' motion. See Dkt. No. 154. Specifically, Magistrate Judge Dancks recommended that the Court grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to all claims with the exception of the Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claim against Defendants Chandler and Brower, and the Eighth Amendment excessive force and failure to intervene claim against Defendants Graham, Vasile, Brower, Heath, and Casler. See Id. at 36.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Since neither party objected to Magistrate Judge Dancks' recitation of the relevant background facts, and because it is consistent with the record, the Court adopts the factual background set forth in Magistrate Judge Dancks' Order and Report-Recommendation. See Dkt. No. 154 at 3-7.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard

         A court may grant a motion for summary judgment only if it determines that there is no genuine issue of material fact to be tried and that the facts as to which there is no such issue warrant judgment for the movant as a matter of law. See Chambers v. TRM Copy Ctrs. Corp., 43 F.3d 29, 36 (2d Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). When analyzing a summary judgment motion, the court "cannot try issues of fact; it can only determine whether there are issues to be tried." Id. at 36-37 (quotation and other citation omitted). Moreover, it is well-settled that a party opposing a motion for summary judgment may not simply rely on the assertions in its pleadings. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) (e)).

         In assessing the record to determine whether any such issues of material fact exist, the court is required to resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. See Chambers, 43 F.3d at 36 (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2502, 2513-14, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)) (other citations omitted). Where the non-movant either does not respond to the motion or fails to dispute the movant's statement of material facts, the court may not rely solely on the moving party's Rule 56.1 statement; rather the court must be satisfied that the citations to evidence in the record support the movant's assertions. See Giannullo v. City of N.Y., 322 F.3d 139, 143 n.5 (2d Cir. 2003) (holding that not verifying in the record the assertions in the motion for summary judgment "would derogate the truth-finding functions of the judicial process by substituting convenience for facts").

         "[I]n a pro se case, the court must view the submissions by a more lenient standard than that accorded to 'formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Govan v. Campbell, 289 F.Supp.2d 289, 295 (N.D.N.Y. 2007) (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972)) (other citations omitted). The Second Circuit has opined that the court is obligated to "make reasonable allowances to protect pro se litigants" from inadvertently forfeiting legal rights merely because they lack a legal education. Govan v. Campbell, 289 F.Supp.2d 289, 295 (N.D.N.Y. 2007) (quoting Traguth v. Zuck, 710 F.2d 90, 95 (2d Cir. 1983)). "However, this does not mean that a pro se litigant is excused from following the procedural requirements of summary judgment. See Id. at 295 (citing Showers v. Eastmond, 00 CIV. 3725, 2001 WL 527484, *1 (S.D.N.Y. May 16, 2001)). Specifically, "a pro se party's 'bald assertion, ' completely unsupported by evidence" is not sufficient to overcome a motion for summary judgment." Lee v. Coughlin, 902 F.Supp. 424, 429 (S.D.N.Y. 1995) (citing Cary v. Crescenzi, 923 F.2d 18, 21 (2d Cir. 1991)).

         When a party files specific objections to a magistrate judge's report-recommendation, the district court makes a "de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). However, when a party files "[g]eneral or conclusory objections or objections which merely recite the same arguments [that he presented] to the magistrate judge, " the court reviews those recommendations for clear error. O'Diah v. Mawhir, No. 9:08-CV-322, 2011 WL 933846, *1 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 16, 2011) (citations and footnote omitted). After the appropriate review, "the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         A litigant's failure to file objections to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, even when that litigant is proceeding pro se, waives any challenge to the report on appeal. See Cephas v. Nash, 328 F.3d 98, 107 (2d Cir. 2003) (holding that, "[a]s a rule, a party's failure to object to any purported error or omission in a magistrate judge's report waives further judicial review of the point" (citation omitted)). A pro se litigant must be given notice of this rule; notice is sufficient if it informs the litigant that the failure to timely object will result in the waiver of further judicial review and cites pertinent statutory and civil rules authority. See Frank v. Johnson, 968 F.2d 298, 299 (2d Cir. 1992); Small v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 892 F.2d 15, 16 (2d Cir. 1989) (holding that a pro se party's failure to object to a report and recommendation does not waive his right to appellate review unless the report explicitly states that failure to object will preclude appellate review and specifically cites 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Rules 72, 6(a), and former 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure).

         B. Official ...


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