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Grant v. Fischer

United States District Court, N.D. New York

March 29, 2017

WILLIAM T. GRANT, Plaintiff,
v.
BRIAN FISCHER, Commissioner, New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision; D. VENETTOZI, Acting Director, Special Housing, Inmate Disciplinary Program; R. BOISSY, Senior Correctional Counselor, Great Meadow Correctional Facility; and WINNEY, formerly known as Atkinson, Defendants.

          WILLIAM T. GRANT Green Haven Correctional Facility P.O. Plaintiff pro se.

          OFFICE OF THE NEW YORKORIANA L. CARRAVETTA, AAG STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL Litigation Bureau The Capitol Albany, Attorneys for Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

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

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision ("DOCCS"), brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights while he was incarcerated at Great Meadow Correctional Facility ("Great Meadow C.F."). See Dkt. No. 23. Specifically, Plaintiff challenges the due process he was afforded in connection with a disciplinary hearing he received as a result of being issued a misbehavior report. See id.

         On May 6, 2016, Defendants moved for summary judgment. See Dkt. No. 44. In their motion, Defendants contend that Plaintiff was not deprived of a liberty interest as a result of the October 17, 2011 disciplinary hearing and, even if he was, his claim still fails because he was afforded all process due to him. See Dkt. No. 44-2 at 7-20. On March 10, 2017, Magistrate Judge Stewart issued a Report-Recommendation and Order in which he recommended that the Court grant Defendants' motion and dismiss this case. See Dkt. No. 62. Specifically, Magistrate Judge Stewart found that, although questions of fact exist as to whether Plaintiff was deprived of a liberty interest, summary judgment is nevertheless appropriate because Plaintiff was afforded all process due to him. See Id. at 9-16.

         Currently before the Court are Defendants' motion for summary judgment and Magistrate Judge Stewart's Report-Recommendation and Order.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Since neither party objected to Magistrate Judge Stewart's 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 Stewart's Report-Recommendation and Order. See Dkt. No. 62 at 4-7.

         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, ' ...


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