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McGee v. New York City

United States District Court, S.D. New York

January 24, 2018

CORY MCGEE, Plaintiff,
NEW YORK CITY, et al., Defendants.


          J. PAUL OETKEN United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Cory McGee, proceeding pro se, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants the City of New York, Commissioner Joseph Ponte and Chief Yolanda Canty of the New York City Department of Correction, and Warden Carolyn Saunders and Deputy Warden Sherma Dunbar of the Otis Bantum Correctional Center. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. (Dkt. No. 12.) McGee failed to respond to this motion.

         For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is granted.

         I. Background

         The following facts are taken from the complaint and are presumed true for purposes of this motion.

         Plaintiff is an inmate detained at the Otis Bantum Correctional Center (“OBCC”) in East Elmhurst, New York, part of the Rikers Island complex. (Dkt. No. 2 (“Compl.”) at 1.) Defendant Canty is the Chief of the New York City Department of Correction (“DOC”). (Compl. at 1.) Defendant Ponte is the DOC Commissioner. (Compl. at 2.) Defendant Dunbar is the Deputy Warden of Security at OBCC, and Defendant Saunders is the Warden of OBCC. (Compl. at 2.)

         Starting on the night of October 20, 2016, OBCC was placed on lockdown, and Plaintiff was locked in his “housing area.” (Compl. at 3.) On several occasions, Plaintiff asked prison officials, including Defendant Dunbar, why he and his fellow inmates were locked in their cells. Dunbar responded that her superiors had authorized the lockdown. (Compl. at 3.)

         On October 29, Defendant Canty conducted a “tour” of Plaintiff's housing area. Plaintiff asked her why the inmates were locked in their cells and “also tried to explain to her that [the inmates] were not getting recreation, religious services programs, [and] law library [access].” (Compl. at 3.) Canty responded that Plaintiff could be released from lockdown if he “g[a]ve up a sca[l]pel.” (Compl. at 3.)

         From October 20 until November 4, Plaintiff filed grievances, but received no response. He then wrote to Defendants Canty, Ponte, Dunbar, and Saunders to complain about the conditions of the lockdown. (Compl. at 3‒4.) He also wrote to the “Board of Corrections” and “Department of Investigations.” (Compl. at 5.) Beyond that, Plaintiff did not continue to pursue his grievances. (Compl. at 4, 5.)

         Plaintiff filed this suit on December 9, 2016. (Dkt. No. 2.) In July 2017, Defendants moved to dismiss his complaint for failure to state a claim. (Dkt. No. 12.) The Court granted Plaintiff's request for a 60-day extension of time to amend his complaint or otherwise respond to Defendants' motion. (Dkt. No. 18.) Plaintiff failed to file any response within this 60-day period. On October 23, 2017, the Court issued an order informing Plaintiff that Defendants' motion would be treated as unopposed unless he filed an amended complaint or opposition by November 17, 2017. (Dkt. No. 20.) Because Plaintiff has not responded to date, Defendants' motion is treated as unopposed.

         II. Legal Standard

         “Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is proper when a complaint lacks ‘factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'” Haughton v. Clinton, No. 15 Civ. 1160, 2015 WL 9244398, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 17, 2015) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). “‘A document filed pro se, ' like the complaint here, ‘is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Id. (quoting Boykin v. KeyCorp., 521 F.3d 202, 214 (2d Cir. 2008)). “Nonetheless, a complaint must contain ‘factual allegations sufficient to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ' including ‘an allegation regarding [each] element necessary to obtain relief.'” Id. (alteration in original) (quoting Blanc v. Capital One Bank, No. 13 Civ. 7209, 2015 WL 3919409, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. June 24, 2015)).

         “Where a Plaintiff fails to oppose a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim, automatic dismissal is not merited.” Evans v. Aramark Food, No. 14 Civ. 6469, 2016 WL 1746060, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 28, 2016). Instead, the court must evaluate “the sufficiency of a complaint . . . based on its own reading of the pleading and knowledge of the law.” Id. (quoting McCall v. Pataki, 232 F.3d 321, 322-323 (2d Cir. 2000)). “In deciding an unopposed motion to dismiss, a court is to assume the truth of a pleading's factual allegations and test only its legal sufficiency.” Haughton, 2015 WL 9244398, at * 1 (quoting Haas v. Commerce Bank, 497 F.Supp.2d 563, 564 (S.D.N.Y. 2007)).

         III. ...

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