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Waters v. Gallagher

United States District Court, N.D. New York

September 7, 2017

KEITH WATERS, Plaintiff,
v.
GALLAGHER, Captain, Bare Hill Correctional Facility, et al., Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          Lawrence E. Kahn, U.S. District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This civil rights action comes before the Court following a report-recommendation filed on August 7, 2017, by the Honorable David E. Peebles, U.S. Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 72.3. Dkt. No. 107 (“Report-Recommendation”). Pro se plaintiff Keith Waters timely filed objections. Dkt. No. 110 (“Objections”).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Within fourteen days after a party has been served with a copy of a magistrate judge's report-recommendation, the party “may serve and file specific, written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); L.R. 72.1(c). If no objections are made, or if an objection is general, conclusory, perfunctory, or a mere reiteration of an argument made to the magistrate judge, a district court need review that aspect of a report-recommendation only for clear error. Barnes v. Prack, No. 11-CV-857, 2013 WL 1121353, at *1 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 18, 2013); Farid v. Bouey, 554 F.Supp.2d 301, 306 n.2 (N.D.N.Y. 2008), abrogated on other grounds by Widomski v. State Univ. of N.Y. at Orange, 748 F.3d 471 (2d Cir. 2014); see also Machicote v. Ercole, No. 06-CV-13320, 2011 WL 3809920, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 25, 2011) (“[E]ven a pro se party's objections to a Report and Recommendation must be specific and clearly aimed at particular findings in the magistrate's proposal, such that no party be allowed a second bite at the apple by simply relitigating a prior argument.”). “A [district] judge . . . may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” § 636(b). Otherwise, a court “shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” Id.

         III. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is an inmate currently in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (“DOCCS”). Docket. Plaintiff commenced this action on July 1, 2015. Dkt. No. 1. An Amended Complaint, dated August 13, 2015, was subsequently filed on October 15, 2015, and is currently the operative pleading. Dkt. No. 14 (“Amended Complaint”). For a detailed account of the Amended Complaint, reference is made to the Report-Recommendation. Rep.-Rec. at 3-10.

         Following the completion of discovery, Plaintiff moved for summary judgment on December 27, 2016. Dkt. Nos. 80 (“Motion”); 80-2 (“Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts”). Defendants filed opposition papers and cross-moved for summary judgment on February 18, 2017. Dkt. Nos. 86 (“Cross-Motion”); 86-2 (“Defendants' Statement of Material Facts”). Plaintiff filed a reply, Dkt. No. 96, as did Defendants, Dkt. No. 103. Pursuant to § 636(b) and Local Rule 72.3, these motions were referred to Judge Peebles. He issued the Report-Recommendation on August 7, 2017. Rep.-Rec.

         Plaintiff first challenges Judge Peebles's recommendation to dismiss his equal protection claim. Objs. 1-5. Plaintiff specifically objects to Judge Peebles's reliance on defendant Thomas LeClair's explanation for his actions and on Defendants' claim that monitoring prisoners' movements is central to DOCCS's mission. Id. at 3. Plaintiff claims that a reasonable factfinder could conclude that LeClair intentionally discriminated against him and that the other defendants, due to their “commonality of race, ” supported LeClair's intentional discrimination. Id. at 4.

         Second, Plaintiff reiterates his challenge to DOCCS Inmate Rule 109.10, which is codified at 7 N.Y.C.R.R. § 270.2(B)(10)(i). Id. at 5. Plaintiff objects that Judge Peebles failed to address this claim explicitly, and argues that this Court must do so. Id.

         IV. DISCUSSION

         The Court has considered the Objections and has undertaken a de novo review of the record and has determined that the Report-Recommendation should be approved and adopted in part. The Court fully approves Judge Peebles's dismissal of Plaintiff's procedural due process claims. Rep.-Rec. at 13-16. The Court also agrees with Judge Peebles's dismissal of Plaintiff's equal protection claim, Rep.-Rec. at 17-22, but does so for different reasons. Finally, the Court will explicitly address Plaintiff's vagueness challenge. See Sharabi v. Recktenwald, No. 15-CV-2466, 2017 WL 1957040, at *1 n.1 (S.D.N.Y. May 10, 2017) (“Because Magistrate Judge Pitman did not address an insufficiency-of-the-evidence claim in the [Report-Recommendation], this Court reviews that claim de novo.” (citing Charles v. County of Nassau, 116 F.Supp.3d 107, 121 (E.D.N.Y. 2015))).

         A. Vagueness Challenge

         Plaintiff contends that DOCCS Inmate Rule 109.10 is unconstitutionally vague and seeks a declaratory judgment. Am. Compl. at 14, 16, 19. The Court will not address this claim on the merits, ...


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