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D'Angelo v. Annucci

United States District Court, S.D. New York

December 19, 2017

GUIDO D'ANGELO, Plaintiff,
v.
ANTHONY ANNUCCI, COMMISSIONER OF NYSDOCCS; ANN MARY T. SULLIVAN, COMMISSIONER OF NYSOMH; GILBERT TAYLOR, COMMISSIONER OF NYCDHS; DANIEL NICKOLAS, NYCDHS; GLADIS SANTANA, ASST. COMMISSIONER OF NYCDHPD; NOEL BRENDON, PAROLE OFFICER OF NYCDOP; S. AMOIA, SUPERINTENDENT OF GROVELAND CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; J. LAGEROGIA, SORC, PAROLE SPECIALIST OF GROVELAND CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; L. WISNIEWSKI, ORC COUNSELOR OF GROVELAND CORRETIONAL FACILITY; M. CRANE, ORC-TSC COUNSELOR OF GROVELAND CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; D. McGEE, MSW, SOCIAL WORKER OF GROVELAND CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; GRAHAM, SUPERINTENDENT OF AUBURN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; ROBERT F. CUNNINGHAM, SUPERINTENDENT OF FISHKILL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; FERNANDEZ, ORC COUNSELOR OF FISHKILL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; MALONE, DISCHARGE PLANNER OF FISHKILL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; JOHN DOE, SUPERINTENDENT OF MID-STATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; DONAHUE, ORC COUNSELOR OF MID-STATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; W. KEYSER, SUPERINTENDENT OF SULLIVAN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; GALLIGAN, ORC COUNSELOR OF SULLIVAN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; ROSS, DISCHARGE PLANNER OF SULLIVAN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, Defendants.

          Guido D'Angelo Elmhurst, NY Pro se Plaintiff Kristen R. Vogel, Esq.

          New York State Office of the Attorney General New York, NY Counsel for Defendants Anthony Annucci, Ann Marie Sullivan, Sandra Amoia, Linda Wisniewski, Matthew Crane, D. McGee, Harold Graham, Robert Cunningham, Inez Fernandez, Matthew Thoms, Michael Donahue, William Keyser, Patricia Galligan, and Carla Steinberg-Ross

          Lesley B. Mbaye, Esq. New York City Law Department New York, NY Counsel for Defendants Gilbert Taylor, Daniel Nicholas, and Gladis Santana

          OPINION & ORDER

          KENNETH M. KARAS, DISTRICT JUDGE

         Guido D'Angelo (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, brings this Complaint, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Anthony Annucci (“Annucci”), Ann Marie Sullivan (“Sullivan”), Noel Brendon (“Brendon”), Sandra Amoia (“Amoia”), J. Lagerogia (“Lagerogia”), Linda Wisniewski (“Wisniewski”), Matthew Crane (“Crane”), D. McGee (“McGee”), Harold Graham (“Graham”), Robert Cunningham (“Cunningham”), Inez Fernandez (“Fernandez”), Fishkill Correctional Facility Discharge Planner Malone (“Malone”), Matthew Thoms (“Thoms”), Michael Donahue (“Donahue”), William Keyser (“Keyser”), Patricia Galligan (“Galligan”), and Carla Steinberg- Ross (“Steinberg-Ross”) (collectively, “State Defendants”), as well as Gilbert Taylor (“Taylor”), Daniel Nicholas (“Nicholas”), Gladis Santana (“Santana”) (collectively, “City Defendants”), alleging that both State and City Defendants violated his constitutional rights by holding him in custody beyond the date of his conditional release. (Dkt. No. 2.) Before the Court are both State and City Defendants' Motions To Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (“Motion”). (Dkt. Nos. 43, 47.)[1] For the following reasons, the Motion is granted.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         The following facts are drawn from Plaintiff's Complaint and are taken as true for the purpose of resolving the instant Motion.[2] Plaintiff was sentenced to a period of incarceration of 18 to 40 years by the Kings County Supreme Court. (See Compl. 11 (Dkt. No. 2).) Plaintiff does not identify the date on which he was sentenced, but notes that the maximum date of expiration of his sentence was December 26, 2027. (See Id. at 11-12.) On April 2, 2014, the “Time Allowance Committee” granted Plaintiff his conditional release to parole, (see Id. at 14), with an anticipated conditional release date of August 26, 2014, (see Id. at 11).[3] Plaintiff's conditional release was approved by Annucci, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (“DOCCS”), or his designee, as well as Amoia, the Superintendent of Groveland Correctional Facility (“Groveland”)-where Plaintiff was then incarcerated-and an unnamed Senior Parole Officer at Groveland. (See Id. at 14.)[4]

         On May 8, 2014, Plaintiff met with Wisniewski, his Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator (“ORC”) at Groveland, who conducted a “risk assessment.” (Id. at 14-15.) Wisniewski concluded that Plaintiff was “less likely to reoffend, ” and that “no civil commitment was necessary, ” because Plaintiff had no “sexual deviancy.” (Id. at 15.)[5] At this same meeting, however, Wisniewski also informed Plaintiff that she “did not expect . . . Plaintiff to be released” on his conditional release date because Plaintiff must first “submit for SARA [Sexual Assault Reform Act] compliant housing.” (Id. at 15-16.)[6] Plaintiff acknowledged that he was required to live in SARA compliant transitional housing, but alleges that his status as an indigent inmate made it “extremely difficult” to locate such housing without assistance from DOCCS. (Id. at 16.)

         Initially, Plaintiff believed that Bellevue Men's Shelter (“Bellevue”), or one of Bellevue's SARA compliant shelters, would serve as appropriate transition housing because Bellevue “temporar[ily] house[d] sex offenders” such as Plaintiff until permanent SARA compliant housing became available. (Id. at 17.) Yet, in June 2014, “ORC/Parole” informed Plaintiff that DOCCS was no longer releasing sex offenders to Bellevue and, therefore, Plaintiff could not be released there on his conditional release date. (Id.) Throughout June of 2014, Plaintiff submitted letters to DOCCS from Fortune Society and Housing Works, organizations that had “informed Plaintiff that they had available SARA compliant transitional housing.” (Id.) Nonetheless, “[]DOCCS failed to make preparations . . . for Plaintiff's release” with either organization and “denied Plaintiff's release to either one.” (Id. at 17-18.) Plaintiff notes that he has “continuously complained” to the Commissioner of DOCCS (Annucci), and the Superintendents at Groveland (Amoia), Auburn Correctional Facility (Graham), Fishkill Correctional Facility (Cunningham), Mid-State Correctional Facility (Thoms), and Sullivan Correctional Facility (Keyser) regarding his continued confinement. (Id. at 18.) Plaintiff has also filed complaints with DOCCS' transitional services department and the New York State Office of Mental Health (“OMH”) discharge planning department. (See Id. at 16.) Plaintiff did not receive responses to any complaints regarding his continued confinement, or his requests for assistance in finding any form of SARA compliant housing. (Id. at 16, 18.) Plaintiff also claims that certain state regulations require placement in temporary housing for homeless inmates, including sex offenders. (Id. 15-16 (citing 9 NYCRR § 8002.7(d)(3).) As a result, Plaintiff seeks damages for his mental and physical anguish, as well as injunctive relief, to remedy the alleged violation of his Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Plaintiff was ultimately released from custody at Sullivan Correctional Facility on February 14, 2017. (Letter from Guido D'Angelo to Court (Feb. 22, 2017) (“Feb. 22 D'Angelo Letter”) 1 (Dkt. No. 11); New York State Department of Corrections Inmate Locator, http://nysdoccslookup.doccs.ny.gov/ (last visited Dec. 8, 2017) (DIN 88T0166).)

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on August 12, 2016, (See Compl.), and Plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on December 29, 2016, (see Order Granting IFP Application (Dkt. No. 7).) On October 28, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Appointment of Counsel, (see Dkt. No. 5), which the Court denied without prejudice on April 17, 2017, (see Order (Dkt. No. 31).) Counsel for City Defendants submitted a letter to the Court on May 2, 2017, requesting permission to file a Motion To Dismiss on behalf of the City Defendants pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (See Letter from Lesley B. Mbaye, Esq., to Court (May 2, 2017) (Dkt. No. 37).) The State Defendants submitted a similar letter on May 9, 2017. (See Letter from Kristin R. Vogel, Esq., to Court (May 9, 2017) (Dkt. No. 41).) On May 22, 2017, the Court entered an Order that all Defendants could file their Motions To Dismiss by June 22, 2017, and Plaintiff should respond to any motions by July 22, 2017. (See Mot. Scheduling Order (Dkt. No. 42).)

         On June 22, 2017, State Defendants filed their Motion To Dismiss and accompanying papers. (See Dkt. Nos. 44-46.) Brendon, Malone, and Lagerogia did not join the Motion as they have never been served. (State Defs.' Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. To Dismiss (“State Mem.”) 1 n.1 (Dkt. No. 44).) City Defendants filed a separate Motion To Dismiss and accompanying papers on June 22, 2017 as well. (See Dkt. Nos. 47-50.) Plaintiff submitted a Motion To Postpone dated July 20, 2017, requesting a “60 to 90 day postponement” to file his response to State and City Defendants' Motions To Dismiss and claiming that he had “no documentation to proceed [with] the Complaint.” (Letter from Plaintiff to Court (July 20, 2017) (Dkt. No. 52).) On July 26, 2017, the Court denied Plaintiff's request. (See Order (Dkt. No. 53).) However, on August 9, 2017, the Court determined that this denial had not been mailed to Plaintiff, and thus reissued its denial of Plaintiff's application. (See Order (Dkt. No. 55).) The Court simultaneously granted Plaintiff 30 days from the date of the August 9, 2017 Memo Endorsement to file any opposition papers to the State and City Defendants' Motions. (See id.) Plaintiff did not respond to either of the Motions. The Court will therefore consider the Motion fully briefed, but independently consider the merits of the Motions. See Goldberg v. Danaher, 599 F.3d 181, 183 (2d Cir. 2010) (explaining that district courts should consider the merits of a motion to dismiss rather than automatically grant the motion if a plaintiff fails to respond).

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         Both Motions To Dismiss were filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), arguing that Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (See Dkt. Nos. 43, 47.)

         The Supreme Court has held that although a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations” to survive a motion to dismiss, “a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration and internal quotation marks omitted). Indeed, Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.” Id. (alteration and internal quotation marks omitted). Rather, a complaint's “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Although “once a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint, ” id. at 563, and a plaintiff must allege “only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ” id. at 570, if a plaintiff has not “nudged [his] claim[] across the line from conceivable to plausible, the[] complaint must be dismissed, ” id.; see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (“Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” (second alteration in original) (citation omitted) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2))); id. at 678-79 (“Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions.”).

         “[W]hen ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint, ” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam), and “draw[] all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff, ” Daniel v. T&M Prot. Res., Inc., 992 F.Supp.2d 302, 304 n.1 (S.D.N.Y. 2014) (citing Koch v. Christie's Int'l PLC, 699 F.3d 141, 145 (2d Cir. 2012)). Additionally, “[i]n adjudicating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a district court must confine its consideration to facts stated on the face of the complaint, in documents appended to the complaint or incorporated in the complaint by reference, and to matters of which judicial notice may be taken.” Leonard F. v. Isr. Disc. Bank of N.Y., 199 F.3d 99, 107 (2d Cir. 1999) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Wang v. Palmisano, 157 F.Supp.3d 306, 317 (S.D.N.Y. 2016) (same).

         Where, as here, a plaintiff proceeds pro se, the court must “construe[] [his] [complaint] liberally and interpret[] [it] to raise the strongest arguments that [it] suggest[s].” Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted). However, “the liberal treatment afforded to pro se litigants does not exempt a pro se party from compliance with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law.” Bell v. Jendell, 980 F.Supp.2d 555, 559 (S.D.N.Y. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Caidor v. Onondaga Cty., 517 F.3d 601, 605 (2d Cir. 2008) (“[P]ro se litigants generally are required to inform themselves regarding procedural rules and to comply with them.” (italics and internal quotation marks omitted)).

         B. Analysis

         Plaintiff alleges that State and City Defendants have violated his rights under the Due Process Clause by holding him in custody beyond his conditional release date, (see Id. at 12-13), which was caused by the State and City Defendants' refusal to assist Plaintiff in locating housing that is compliant with New York Executive Law § 259-c(14), enacted as part of the Sexual Assault Reform Act (“SARA”), as is required by New York law. See 9 NYCRR § 8002.7(d)(3) (“[A]ll social service districts are required by statute, regulation and directive to arrange temporary housing assistance for eligible homeless individuals, including those ...


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