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Collins v. Fischer

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 29, 2018


          Robert A. Collins Stormville, NY Pro Se Plaintiff

          Yan Fu, Esq. New York State Office of the Attorney General New York, NY Counsel for Defendants .

          OPINION & ORDER


         Plaintiff Robert A. Collins (“Plaintiff”), currently incarcerated at Green Haven Correctional Facility (“Green Haven”), brings this pro se Action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Brian Fischer, Former Commissioner of Department of Correction and Community Supervision (“Fischer”), William Lee, Former Superintendent of Green Haven (“Lee”), Downstate Correctional Facility, Queens Hospital Center, Long Island Jewish Hospital, Zucker Hillside Medical Center, Flushing Hospital Medical Center, Creedmore Psychiatric Center, New York State Office of Mental Health, New York City Police Department, and New York City Department of Environmental Protection, (collectively, “Defendants”), alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights.[1] Before the Court is a Motion To Dismiss on behalf of Defendants Fischer and Lee (the “State Defendants”) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Defs.' Mot. To. Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) (“Defs.' Mot.”) 1 Dkt. No. 44).) For the reasons to follow, the Motion is granted.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         The following facts are drawn from Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint and are taken as true for the purpose of resolving the instant Motion.[2] At the time of the events described herein, Plaintiff was an inmate at Green Haven. (Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) 10 (Dkt. No. 11).) Plaintiff alleges (1) an Eighth Amendment claim against Lee based on the “inhumane” conditions of his confinement at Green Haven and (2) that Fischer failed to respond to a grievance. As the claims against the other Defendants have been dismissed, (see Order to Amend 6 (Dkt. No. 7); Opinion & Order Dismissing Defs. City of New York and Queens Hospital (Dkt. No. 48)), the Court only recounts facts relevant to the alleged conduct of the State Defendants.

         1. The Eighth Amendment Claim

         On November 1, 2012, Plaintiff was waiting to be escorted to vocational class when he “was told by a Correction Officer that [he] had a call-out to see . . . one of the therapists.” (SAC 10.) Upon arriving to the “Psychiatric Services Unit, ” Plaintiff “was stripped of [his] clothes by the Corrections Officers providing security there, and then confined in one of the cells (referred to as ‘tanks').” (Id.)[3] In those cells, there are “bright, fluorescent lights” that are “kept on twenty-four hours a day.” (Id.) Plaintiff “was forced . . . to wear a smock that fastened with Velcro straps, ” and was “very cold in the cell” with no clothes. (Id.) He “was made to eat [his] meals without any type of eating utensil.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff was kept in the tank until 2:00 a.m. on November 4, 2012, when he was transferred to Downstate Correctional Facility (“Downstate”). (Id.) His clothes were returned to him for the trip to Downstate, but were again taken from him and he was confined in “cell seventeen of Downstate's D-Block.” (Id.) On November 5, 2012, Plaintiff was seen by a psychiatrist and social worker at Downstate. (Id. at 11.) At the end of the interview, his clothes were returned to him. (Id.) On November 6, 2012, he was again interviewed by a psychiatrist named Espirito. (Id.) He spent the next day in “Cell D-seventeen” at Downstate. (Id.)

         On November 8, 2012, Petitioner returned to Green Haven and was sent to a cell in “A-Block.” (Id.) Later that day, he was again summoned to Psychiatric Services. (Id.) Plaintiff was told by a psychiatrist that since he had been outside the institution and returned, he had to undergo a period of “observation” and “medication compliance.” (Id.) Plaintiff was then confined in a four-bed arrangement referred to as the Psychiatric Services Unit “dormitory.” (Id.) He remained there until November 15, 2012, at which time he was released to his regular cell. (Id.) On December 7, 2012, Plaintiff was again taken to the Psychiatric Services Unit and was confined in a tank until his release on December 10, 2012. (See id.)

         On December 18, 2012, Plaintiff was “keep locked” and given a Tier III infraction by Corrections Officer Stevens. (Id. at 11-12.) On December 21, 2012, Plaintiff appeared at a disciplinary hearing before Assistant Deputy Superintendent O'Neil for that infraction, to which he pled not guilty. (Id. at 12.) After the hearing, the escort officer, Correction Officer Martin, took Plaintiff back to the Psychiatric Services Unit, where he spent three days in the tank, followed by three days in the dormitory, and another three days in the tank. (Id.) Then, on December 31, 2012, he was released back to his regular cell. (Id.) Plaintiff “was still keep locked.” (Id.) On January 4, 2013, Plaintiff was taken back to the Psychiatric Services Unit. (Id.) He was released on January 7, 2013. (Id.)[4]

         Plaintiff alleges he experienced “trauma” from the conditions in Green Haven's Psychiatric Services Unit and the “methods in which [he] was dealt with by Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and Social Workers” in Downstate's D-Block. (Id. at 20.) Plaintiff alleges Lee “toured the Psychiatric Unit's ‘dormitory' and ‘tank' areas routinely, and was fully cognizant of the inhumane measures employed by the Office of Mental Health operating in conjunction with the Department of Correction and Community Supervision [(“DOCCS”)].” (Id. at 14.) Plaintiff seeks financial compensation “for the time [he] was confined in the Psychiatric Service Unit [at Green Haven] . . . between the months of September 2012 and January 201[3], and for the time [he] spent in Downstate's D-Block in November 2012.” (Id. at 18.) Plaintiff “would also greatly appreciate being compensated for the pain, suffering, degradation, and mental anguish [he] experienced” at the two facilities. (Id.)

         2. The Grievance Process Claim

         In December 2012, Plaintiff filed a grievance at Green Haven for harassment against Correction Officer Stevens. (See Id. at 12.) Plaintiff alleges that “Commissioner Brian Fischer alleges that he was not appealed to, despite [Plaintiff's] Aunt . . . writ[ing] him and appris[ing] him of [Plaintiff's] grievance against Correction Officer Stevens.” (Id. at 14.) Plaintiff states his “Article 78 was affirmed because [he] failed to exhaust [his] administrative remedies.” (Id.)

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed the initial Complaint on January 5, 2015. (Dkt. No. 1.) On February 18, 2015, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. (Dkt. No. 6.) On March 4, 2015, then-Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska issued an Order To Amend, dismissing certain Defendants, identifying deficiencies in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, and instructing Plaintiff to again amend his Complaint. (Order to Amend.) On March 10, 2015, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint, (Dkt. No. 9), which Judge Preska found was still deficient; Plaintiff was thus ordered to again file an amended pleading, ...

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