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Pittman v. Low

United States District Court, N.D. New York

May 18, 2017

HENRY E. PITTMAN, also known as Abdus Sabury Fateen Akbary Pittman, Plaintiff,
JEFFREY J. LOW, Assistant District Attorney; JOSEPH STANZIONE, District Attorney; JOHN LYLES, Sergeant at Catskill Police Dept.; ANGELO F. SCATUCCO, Public Defender; ZACHARY P. HALPERIN, Assistant Public Defender; DAVID R. DARLING, Chief, Catskill Police Dept.; DANIEL WAER, Sergeant; RONALD FRASCELLO; MICHAEL J. SPITZ, Superintendent; DAVON ANDREWS, Staff Member and Correctional Officer; NORAH AHEARN, Staff Member and Correctional Officer, Defendants.

          HENRY E. PITTMAN Plaintiff, pro se


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


         On December 9, 2016, pro se Plaintiff Henry E. Pittman ("Plaintiff") filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") against eleven named Defendants. See Dkt. No. 1 at 2-4. On January 13, 2017, Plaintiff filed a letter motion seeking an injunction against Greene County Jail and Columbia County Jail. See Dkt. No. 6. On February 8, 2017, Magistrate Judge Daniel J. Stewart issued a Report-Recommendation and Order recommending that Plaintiff's claims against certain Defendants be dismissed with prejudice, and that Plaintiff's remaining claims be dismissed with leave to replead. See Dkt. No. 10 at 10. Judge Stewart also recommended that Plaintiff's motion for injunctive relief be denied. See Id. On March 13, 2017, Plaintiff filed another motion seeking injunctive relief, this time against Columbia County Jail alone. See Dkt. No. 14.

         Currently before the Court are Plaintiff's two motions seeking injunctive relief, see Dkt. Nos. 6, 14, and Judge Stewart's Report-Recommendation and Order, see Dkt. No. 10.

         II. BACKGROUND[1]

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Columbia County Jail, though he was incarcerated at Greene County Jail when he filed his complaint. See Dkt. No. 5. Plaintiff claims that on March 23, 2016, he was at his friend's house when officers arrived and questioned his friends. See Dkt. No. 1 at 6. Defendant Officer Daniel Waer then questioned Plaintiff and discovered that Plaintiff possessed a small bag of marijuana, three small bags allegedly containing cocaine, and various prescription pills. See id. On March 29, 2016, Plaintiff attended a preliminary hearing where Defendant Sergeant John Lyles testified that Plaintiff possessed cocaine. See id. On September 15, 2016, Plaintiff attended a grand jury proceeding accompanied by Defendant Zachery Halperin, a public defender. See id. at 6-7. Plaintiff was indicted in County Court shortly thereafter. See Id. at 7. On November 10, 2016, Plaintiff received a substance report from Defendant Halperin, which indicated that no controlled substances were found in the plastic bag containing powder that Plaintiff previously had in his possession. See id.; Dkt. No. 1-3 at 13. Plaintiff claims that Defendants Joseph Stanzione, the District Attorney, and Ronald Frascello, a Catskill Police Department Lieutenant, were aware of the results of the substance report, yet the indictment still charged Plaintiff with possessing cocaine. See Dkt. No. 1 at 7.

         Plaintiff also alleges that officials at Greene County Jail interfered with Plaintiff's ability to file his complaint. See Id. at 7-8. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Superintendent Michael Spitz limited Plaintiff's ability to copy materials and use a notary and that Defendant Correctional Officer Norah Ahrean refused to accept Plaintiff's grievances regarding the interference with the filing of his complaint. See Id. Similarly, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant staff member Dawn Andrews refused to sign a document related to Plaintiff's inmate account. See Id. at 8.


         A. Standard of Review

         When reviewing a complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), courts are guided by the applicable requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a pleading must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). While Rule 8(a) "does not require 'detailed factual allegations, ' . . . it demands more than an unadorned" recitation of the alleged misconduct. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)) (other citation omitted).

         To survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, a party need only present a claim that is "plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted). In determining whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief may be granted, "the court must accept the material facts alleged in the complaint as true and construe all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor." Hernandez v. Coughlin, 18 F.3d 133, 136 (2d Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). However, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Moreover, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (citation omitted).

         In reviewing a report and recommendation, a district 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)(C). When a party makes specific objections to a magistrate judge's report, the district court engages in de novo review of the issues raised in the objections. See id.; Farid v. Bouey, 554 F.Supp.2d 301, 307 (N.D.N.Y. 2008). When a party fails to make specific objections, the court reviews the magistrate judge's report for clear error. See Farid, 554 F.Supp.2d at 307; see also Gamble v. Barnhart, No. 02-CV-1126, 2004 WL 2725126, *1 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 29, 2004). Plaintiff has not filed objections in this case.

         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 ...

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