United States District Court, N.D. New York
BOWERS Plaintiff, pro se
DECISION AND ORDER
T. SUDDABY Chief United States District Judge
plaintiff Daquan Bowers commenced this civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983")
in July 2017. See Dkt. No. 1 ("Compl.").
Plaintiff did not pay the filing fee for this action and
sought leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
review in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) and 28
U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court determined that
plaintiff's complaint, as presented to this Court, did
not allege facts sufficient to plausibly suggest that his
rights protected under the Eighth Amendment were violated
when he was injured by an unknown assailant in a surprise
attack. Dkt. No. 7 (the "October
Order"). As a result, the complaint was dismissed
for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be
granted. Id. at 5-8. In light of his pro se status,
plaintiff was afforded the opportunity to file an amended
complaint. Id. at 8-9.
duly filed an amended complaint which is before this Court
for review. Dkt. No. 11 ("Am.
amended complaint, plaintiff sets forth facts regarding the
incident which occurred in February 2017 at Great Meadow
Correctional Facility ("Great Meadow C.F.").
See Am. Compl. at 5-6. At the time of the attack,
plaintiff was in a stairwell leading from B Block Company to
the messhall on his way to the noon meal. Id. at 5.
As alleged, officers routinely assigned to the first and
second floor stair landings were not at their posts.
Id. While he was in the stairwell, plaintiff was cut
from behind and suffered a three inch laceration to the right
side of his face. Id.
the original complaint, plaintiff states that he does not
know the identity of his assailant; significantly, plaintiff
does not allege that he had any particular reason to fear for
his safety prior to the attack. Id. The Court also
notes that plaintiff does not disclose where on the three
flights of stairs he was when the attack occurred, nor does
he claim to have yelled out or attempted in any way to notify
staff of his injury. Id. at 5. Rather, plaintiff
states that the incident came to light when C.O. Betit (not a
defendant) saw the cut on plaintiff's face; by this time
plaintiff had exited the stairwell and was walking towards
the messhall seemingly unaware of the injury. Id.
Following the attack, plaintiff stated that he did not
"need or want" protective custody. Id. at
6. Plaintiff was recommended for involuntary protective
custody ("IPC") status the following day.
names Great Meadow C.F. Deputy Superintendent of Security
Eastman as a defendant in the amended complaint and alleges
that he "had actual knowledge of high rates of assault
in the corridors and stairwell" leading down from
plaintiff's housing unit. Am. Compl. at 7. Plaintiff further
alleges that existing policies and procedures at the facility
called for correctional staff to be posted in the stairwells
during inmate movement. Id. at 8. According to
plaintiff, he and the other inmates from his housing unit
were allowed to proceed into the stairwell on February 3,
2017, notwithstanding the fact that the assigned officers
were not at their posts on the landings. Id. at
8-10. Plaintiff does not allege that this security lapse had
ever occurred before.
upon these allegations, plaintiff reasserts his Eighth
Amendment "failure to protect" claim arising out of
the incident on February 3, 2017; plaintiff also claims that
his confinement on IPC status constituted cruel and unusual
punishment in violation of his constitutional rights. Am.
Compl. at 7-11. In addition to Deputy Supt. of Security
Eastman, the two corrections officers assigned to escort his
housing unit to the noon meal on February 3, 2017 (John Does
2 & 3), the two officers assigned to posts in the
stairwell (John Does 4 & 5), Sgt. Reynolds (the
supervising officer of plaintiff's housing unit); and the
"Captain of Security" (John Doe 1) are named as
defendants. Id. at 2-4. Plaintiff seeks an award of
damages. Id. at 12.
review of the amended complaint, and with due regard for
plaintiff's status as a pro se litigant, the Court finds
that plaintiff has not cured the pleading deficiencies
identified in the October Order with regard to his Eighth
Amendment "failure to protect" claim. As discussed
in the October Order, a plaintiff must show that he was
incarcerated under conditions posing a "substantial risk
of serious harm, " and that the charged prison officials
acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind by being
deliberately indifferent to the inmate's health and
safety. October Order at 6.
while plaintiff alleges in the amended complaint that inmates
were at risk of assault in the corridors and stairwells at
Great Meadow C.F. and that Dep. Supt. Eastman had
"actual knowledge" of these risks, this allegation
is wholly conclusory in nature and is, therefore,
insufficient. The law in this Circuit clearly provides that
"complaints relying on the civil rights statutes are
insufficient unless they contain specific allegations of fact
indicating a deprivation of rights, instead of a litany of
general conclusions that shock but have no meaning."
Hunt v. Budd, 895 F.Supp. 35, 38 (N.D.N.Y. 1995)
(McAvoy, C.J.) (citing Barr v. Abrams, 810 F.2d 358,
363 (2d Cir. 1987) (other citations omitted));
Pourzandvakil v. Humphry, 94-CV-1594, 1995 WL
316935, at *7 (N.D.N.Y. May 22, 1995) (Pooler, J.) (citation
omitted). In addition, the amended complaint affords no basis
for liability against supervisory officials such as Dep.
Supt. Eastman and Capt. "Doe" who, as alleged, had
implemented policies and procedures for stairwell security
and are not alleged to have had any knowledge that those
procedures would not be followed on February 3, 2017.
Plaintiff's conclusory assertion that defendants failed
to train their subordinates in these procedures do not
suffice. See, e.g., Smith v. Local 819 I.B.T. Pension
Plan, 291 F.3d 236, 240 (2d Cir. 2002) ("conclusory
allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as factual
conclusions" are insufficient to allege involvement of a
supervisor) (internal quotation omitted).
discussed in the October Order, it is well-settled that
"not . . . every injury suffered by one prisoner at the
hands of another . . . translates into constitutional
liability for prison officials responsible for the
victim's safety, " Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 834 (1994), and deliberate indifference claims
based upon surprise attacks are routinely denied by the
courts. October Order at 6-7 (citing cases). Here, even
assuming that plaintiff's allegations suffice to
demonstrate that the alleged absence of assigned officers
from the stairwells contributed to a risk of harm faced by
plaintiff on this occasion (and the Court makes no such
finding), there are no allegations of fact which even suggest
that any named defendant possessed "sufficiently
culpable intent." Plaintiff alleges, at best, a