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Walker v. Bellnier

United States District Court, N.D. New York

January 9, 2018

TYRONE WALKER, Plaintiffs,
v.
JOSEPH BELLNIER, et. al., Defendants.

          TYRONE WALKER 94-A-5258 Plaintiff, pro se Upstate Correctional Facility P.O. Box 2001

          DECISION AND ORDER

          GLENN T. SUDDABY Chief United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pro se plaintiff Tyrone Walker ("Plaintiff") commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") asserting claims arising out of his confinement in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision ("DOCCS"). Dkt. No. 1 ("Compl."). The incidents that formed the basis for the action allegedly occurred while Plaintiff was confined at Upstate Correctional Facility ("Upstate C.F."). See id., generally. By Decision and Order filed on November 3, 2017 (the "November Order"), this Court granted Plaintiff's IFP application and reviewed the sufficiency of the Complaint in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Dkt. No. 5. On the basis of that review, Court dismissed the following, without prejudice: (1) Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claims related to Plaintiff's initial placement in Administrative Segregation and the Pilot Incentive Program; (2) Fourteenth Amendment substantive Due Process claims; (3) Eighth Amendment claims related to Plaintiff's conditions of confinement; (4) Eighth Amendment claims related to Plaintiff's serious medical needs; and (5) Eighth Amendment claims related to threats.[1] See Id. at 27. The Court ordered defendants Melissa A. Cook ("Cook"), Donald Uhler ("Uhler"), Joseph Bellnier ("Bellnier"), Joanne Fitchette ("Fitchette"), and Paul P. Woodruff ("Woodruff") to respond to Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claims related to his continued confinement in Administrative Segregation.[2] See id. at 28.

         Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's Amended Complaint.[3] Dkt. No. 8 ("Am. Compl.").

         II. SUMMARY OF AMENDED COMPLAINT[4]

         On January 17, 2014, Plaintiff was placed in the Special Housing Unit ("SHU") based upon an Administrative Segregation Recommendation and remained in the unit pending a hearing. Am. Compl. at 3. Plaintiff's hearing was completed 2 ½ months after the recommendation was issued. Id.

         In August 2014, Plaintiff filed a grievance complaining that he was being treated like an inmate on "SHU status." Dkt. No. 8-1 at 4. On August 19, 2014, the Inmate Grievance Resolution Committee ("IGRC") issued a response denying the grievance reasoning that Plaintiff was receiving privileges in accordance with DOCCS' Directive #4933, section 304.1.[5] Id. at 5.

         On April 12, 2016, Plaintiff sent a letter to the Administrative Segregation Review Committee ("ASRC") claiming that his periodic administrative reviews were untimely, based upon false information, and essentially, "a farce." Am. Compl. at 3; Dkt. No. 8-1 at 14-17. Plaintiff claimed that Woodruff "made it clear" that he would not be released from Administrative Segregation for two to three years. Dkt. No. 8-1 at 14-17. Plaintiff objected to Cook's role in the review process. Id.

         In May 2016, Plaintiff filed a grievance asking for permission to return to the general population. Am. Compl. at 3; Dkt. No. 8-1 at 8. During interviews, Woodruff and Cook told Plaintiff that he would not be released from the SHU. Dkt. No. 8-1 at 8. The IGRC denied Plaintiff's grievance and Plaintiff appealed. Id. at 9. Sandra Danforth ("Danforth"), the Acting Superintendent at Upstate C.F., issued a decision concurring with the IGRC.[6] Id. at 10.

         On July 4, 2016, Plaintiff sent a letter to Uhler and the ASRC claiming that he did not receive his March 2016 review. Am. Compl. at 3; Dkt. No. 8-1 at 18-23. Plaintiff complained that the reviews were a "sham" and that Woodruff had no intention of allowing Plaintiff to leave the SHU. Dkt. No. 8-1 at 18-23.

         On February 17, 2017, Plaintiff received an Administrative Segregation Review dated August 17, 2016. Am. Compl. at 3; Dkt. No. 8-1 at 24. The three member committee, including Cook and Fitchette, reviewed Plaintiff's status and determined that continued confinement was appropriate. Dkt. No. 8-1 at 24.

         On April 20, 2017, Woodruff issued a memorandum to inmates in Administrative Segregation advising that the Pilot Incentive Program was discontinued. Am. Compl. at 4; Dkt. No. 8-1 at 29. The program allowed Plaintiff to watch one movie each month. Am. Compl. at 4. On April 21, 2017, Plaintiff wrote to Woodruff asking him to reinstate the program. Dkt. No. 8-1 at 31-32.

         On June 22, 2017, Plaintiff wrote to Bellnier complaining that the August 2016 review was the last review he received. Am. Compl. at 5; Dkt. No. 8-1 at 74. Plaintiff objected to the decision to discontinue the Pilot Program. Dkt. No. 8-1 at 75.

         On August 4, 2017, Plaintiff received an Administrative Segregation Review dated January 30, 2017. Am. Compl. at 4; Dkt. No. 8-1 at 34-36. On February 9, 2017, a three member committee, including Fitchette, found that continued segregation was appropriate. Dkt. No. 8-1 at 34-36. On July 31, 2017, the recommendation was approved. Id. at 34-36.

         On October 1 2017, Plaintiff received an Administrative Segregation Review dated June 12, 2017. Am. Compl. at 6; Dkt. No. 8-1 at 76. The review was completed on September 25, 2017. Id. The committee cited to Plaintiff's "unpredictable behavior and violence" and concluded that he posed a "threat to the security and safety of himself, the facility and population" if he returned to general population. Dkt. No. 8-1 at 77.

         Construing the Amended Complaint liberally, Plaintiff asserts the following: (1) Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claims related to Plaintiff's initial placement in Administrative Segregation; (2) Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claims related to Plaintiff's continued confinement in Administrative Segregation; (3) Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection ...


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