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Howard v. Brown

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 25, 2018

JAMES HOWARD, Plaintiff,
v.
CAPTAIN BROWN, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          EDGARDO RAMOS, U.S.D.J

         James Howard, proceeding pro se, sues correction officer Captain Brown pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the conditions of his confinement and the denial of medical treatment at the Manhattan Detention Center (“MDC”) amounted to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Captain Brown now moves to dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, Captain Brown's motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background [1]

         On November 5, 2015, Howard was placed in a cell with four other inmates in the intake area of the MDC. Am. Compl. ¶ II(D), Doc. 28. Howard alleges that the sink in the cell did not have running water and that “the toilet did not flush, and was filled with feces.” Id. In addition, the cell floor and toilet area were littered with “food . . ., papers, urine, and other un-sanitary things.” Id. Howard also alleges that there was no ventilation in the cell, making it difficult to breathe. Statement of Facts, Compl. 6, Doc. 2.[2] Howard, along with two other inmates, became nauseated and complained to correction officers about shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, and stomach pains, [3] but they were left in the cell for several hours. Id. Howard's nausea and headaches did not subside for “over a day and a half, ” but he never received medical treatment despite requesting it. Am. Compl. ¶ III.

         Howard alleges that he filed a grievance with the MDC, but the staff said they “don't handle these kinds of issues.” Id. ¶ IV(D), (E)(2). Howard then wrote a letter to the warden, but she did not respond. Id. ¶ IV(E)(3).

         Howard filed this action on November 13, 2015, Compl. 5, and filed an Amended Complaint on May 23, 2017, Am. Compl. 7.[4] Howard asserts claims under the Eighth Amendment challenging the conditions of his confinement and the denial of his request for medical treatment. Id. ¶¶ II(D), III.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6)

         When ruling on a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), district courts are required to accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and to draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Walker v. Schult, 717 F.3d 119, 124 (2d Cir. 2013). However, this requirement does not apply to legal conclusions, bare assertions, or conclusory allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 681 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In order to satisfy the pleading standard set forth in Rule 8, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Accordingly, a plaintiff is required to support his claims with sufficient factual allegations to show “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. “Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         B. Pro Se Plaintiff

         Courts should read pro se pleadings “liberally and interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.” Jorgensen v. Epic/Sony Records, 351 F.3d 46, 50 (2d Cir. 2003) (quoting McPherson v. Coombe, 174 F.3d 276, 280 (2d Cir. 1999)). The obligation to read a pro se litigant's pleadings leniently “applies with particular force when the plaintiff's civil rights are at issue.” Jackson v. NYS Dep't of Labor, 709 F.Supp.2d 218, 224 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) (citing McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d Cir. 2004)). “However, even pro se plaintiffs asserting civil right claims cannot withstand a motion to dismiss unless their pleadings contain factual allegations sufficient to raise a ‘right to relief above the speculative level.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         III. DISCUSSION

         “Section 1983 provides a private cause of action for ‘the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws' of the United States.” Boyland v. Wing, 487 F.Supp.2d 161, 167 (E.D.N.Y. 2007) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). “Section 1983 ‘is not itself a source of substantive rights,' but merely provides ‘a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.'” Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994) (quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3 (1979)).

         A. ...


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