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Kimbrough v. Fischer

United States District Court, N.D. New York

April 11, 2017

BRIAN FISCHER, Commissioner of NYS DOCCS; ALBERT PRACK, Acting Director of S.H.U., DOCCS; T. FAUSS, Educational Supervisor, C.H.O., Mohawk Correctional Facility; ABATE, Lieutenant/Watch Commander, Auburn Correctional Facility; J. HAI, Correctional Officer, C.I.U., Auburn Correctional Facility; and MCCARTHY, Captain, Acting Deputy Superintendent of Security, Auburn Correctional Facility, Defendants.

          MELVIN KIMBROUGH Plaintiff pro se





         In a Memorandum-Decision and Order dated February 18, 2016, the Court, among other things, accepted Magistrate Judge Dancks' September 29, 2014 Report-Recommendation and Order and her October 21, 2014 Report-Recommendation and Order in their entirety, granted Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment with respect to his due process claims against Defendants Fauss and Prack and ordered the parties to file memoranda of law "addressing the issue of the appropriate relief that Plaintiff could receive on his due process claims against Defendants Fauss and Prack under the PLRA and the best method for determining that relief[.]" See Dkt. No. 73 at 26.

         The parties have filed the required memoranda of law, see Dkt. Nos. 76, 81; and the Court now addresses the parties' arguments with regard to damages.


         As the Court noted in its February 18, 2016 Memorandum-Decision and Order, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e) provides that "'[n]o Federal civil action may be brought by a prisoner confined in a jail, prison, or other correctional facility, for mental or emotional injury suffered while in custody without a prior showing of physical injury ..... " See Dkt. No. 73 at 24 (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e)). Furthermore, the Second Circuit has held that "to collect compensatory damages in an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must prove more than a mere violation of his constitutional rights. He must also demonstrate that the constitutional deprivation caused him some actual injury." McCann v. Coughlin, 698 F.2d 112, 126 (2d Cir. 1983) (citations omitted). Therefore, in the absence of "a showing of causation and actual injury, a plaintiff is entitled only to nominal damages." Miner v. City of Glens Falls, 999 F.2d 655, 660 (2d Cir. 1993) (citations omitted).

         Although § 1997e(e) "is a limitation on recovery of damages for mental and emotional injury in the absence of a showing of physical injury, it does not restrict a plaintiff's ability to recover compensatory damages for actual injury, nominal or punitive damages, or injunctive and declaratory relief." Thompson v. Carter, 284 F.3d 411, 416 (2d Cir. 2002). By way of example, if a plaintiff can demonstrate actual injury, § 1997e(e) permits compensatory damages for the loss of the plaintiff's property. See Id. at 418 (citing Robinson v. Page, 170 F.3d 747, 748 (7th Cir. 1999) (indicating in dicta that suit for damages resulting from prison officials' seizure of inmate's property without due process should not be dismissed merely because inmate alleges emotional suffering resulting from the same incident)).

         Plaintiff argues that the Court should award him compensatory damages, punitive damages and injunctive relief as a result of Defendants Fauss and Prack's violation of his due process rights. See, generally, Dkt. No. 76. With regard to compensatory damages, Plaintiff seeks the following:

$150.00, per day for the loss of 120 days good time, privileges and quality of his prison life living conditions, and loss of limited liberty enjoyed by prisoners in general population, resulting from his wrongful punitive confinement, in which he was confined (108 days of the 120 day sentence) for 24 hours a day with a cell mate, in a cell roughly 60 feet square . . ., loss of sleep due to light being on all night, and deprived most of his property, loss of C.P., loss of ability to work, attend educational . . . and vocational program, loss of wages, watch television, associate with other prisoners, attend outdoor recreation in a congregate setting with the ability to engage in sports, lift weights, and other recreational congregate activities, attend facility events and festivals, attend meals with other prisoners, attend religious services, prolonged confinement, loss of contact visitation, loss of telephone, packages, weight loss, stress, frustration, distrust toward staff, anger, thwarted his earned eligibility of being in a medium security facility . . ., loss of family reunion participation, loss money filed Article 78 . . ., cost for filing this action and loss of appetite.

See Dkt. No. 76 at 7 (internal footnote and citation omitted).

         With regard to punitive damages, Plaintiff relies on his argument that Defendants Fauss's and Prack's actions were arbitrary and capricious and caused him actual injury as a basis for his request that the Court should award him punitive damages. In particular, he argues that (1)

         Defendant Fauss was not a fair and impartial hearing officer, (2) Defendant Prack's duty to review Defendant Fauss's decision was unfair and partial, and (3) Defendant Fauss and Defendant Prack caused him actual injury. See Dkt. No. 76 at 4-7. Plaintiff states that he wants to hold Defendants Fauss and Prack "accountable for his wrongful confinement and prolonged confinement, where Plaintiff sufficiently exhibited that, defendants intended to confine him; he was conscious of the confinement; he did not consent to the confinement; thus the confinement was not otherwise privileged." See Id. at 8 (citation ...

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