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Daly v. New York City

United States District Court, S.D. New York

May 30, 2017

JAMES DALY, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW YORK CITY, NYC DOC, JOSEPH PONTE, MAXSOLAINE MINGO, AMKC, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JAMES C. FRANCIS IV UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         The plaintiff, James Daly, proceeding pro se, brings this action against the City of New York (the "City"); Joseph Ponte, former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction (the "DOC"); and Maxsolaine Mingo, former Warden of the Anna M. Kross Center (the "AMKC") on Rikers Island.[1] Mr. Daly sues under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, arguing that the defendants violated his constitutional rights by requiring him to sleep on an improperly mounted mattress, exacerbating pre-existing medical problems with his back. He now seeks injunctive relief in the form of a more suitable mattress, compensatory damages totaling $15, 000, 000, and punitive damages in the amount of $5, 000, 000.

         The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to which the plaintiff has not responded. For the reasons that follow, I recommend that the motion be granted.

         Background

         Mr. Daly's complaint states that while he was being detained[2]at the AMKC, “the NYCDOC [] forced [him] to mis-use the Bob Barker mattress on a foundation when it is clearly labeled to be used without one.” (Complaint (“Compl.”) at 3). To substantiate this claim, he has attached a copy of a mattress tag to the complaint which states “this mattress is intended to be used without a foundation.” (Mattress Warning Label, attached as exhibit to Compl.). Mr. Daly also claims that he suffers “from spinal stenosis as well as 2 crushed vertebrae.” (Compl. at 3). He further asserts that “the NYCDOC is aware that this product causes medical issues and induces severe pain when it is mis-used” and that “[b]ecause of their deliberate indifference[, his] pre-existing condition has been exacerbated to the point of being continuously excruciatingly painful.” (Compl. at 3).

         Mr. Daly filed a grievance with the DOC on July 14, 2016, alleging that his mattress exacerbated his back conditions. (Compl. at 8). He brought this action two weeks later on July 28, 2017, after receiving no response to the grievance. (Compl. at 4, 7). When asked on the complaint form to describe what efforts he made to appeal the decision on his grievance, Mr. Daly states, “None, they never responded within 2 weeks.” (Compl. at 4).

         The defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that: (1) the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, (2) the constitutional claim is insufficiently pled, and (3) no facts are alleged in the complaint that could plausibly provide a basis for municipal or individual liability.

         Discussion

         A. Legal Standard

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter . . . to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The court's charge in ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion “is merely to assess the legal feasibility of the complaint, not to assay the weight of the evidence which might be offered in support thereof.” GVA Market Neutral Master Ltd. v. Veras Capital Partners Offshore Fund, Ltd., 580 F.Supp.2d 321, 327 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (quoting Eternity Global Master Fund Ltd. v. Morgan Guaranty Trust Co. of New York, 375 F.3d 168, 176 (2d Cir. 2004)). The court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, “taking its factual allegations to be true and drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor.” Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 71 (2d Cir. 2009).

         This standard applies equally to pro se plaintiffs, but their pleadings are read more liberally and are construed as raising the strongest claims implied. See Teichmann v. New York, 769 F.3d 821, 825 (2d Cir. 2014). The court may also consider “materials outside the complaint to the extent that they are consistent with the allegations in the complaint.” Martinez v. Aycock-West, 164 F.Supp.3d 502, 508 (S.D.N.Y. 2016) (quoting Alsaifullah v. Furco, No. 12 Civ. 2907, 2013 WL 3972514, at *4 n.3 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 2, 2013)). Finally, even if a plaintiff does not oppose a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the failure to respond does not warrant dismissal if the complaint sufficiently states a claim. McCall v. Pataki, 232 F.3d 321, 323 (2d Cir. 2000).

         B. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies '

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act bars a prisoner from bringing a § 1983 action related to prison conditions unless “administrative remedies . . . are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); see also Williams v. Priatno, 829 F.3d 118, 122 (2d Cir. 2016). Because failure to exhaust is an affirmative defense, a plaintiff's complaint need not allege that he has exhausted his administrative remedies. Williams, 839 F.3d at 122. Therefore, a court may dismiss a complaint only if a plaintiff's failure to exhaust “is clear on the face of the complaint.” Id.

         In this case, the plaintiff was required to comply with the DOC's multi-step Inmate Grievance Resolution Program ...


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