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Crandell v. Ross

United States District Court, W.D. New York

January 13, 2020

KEVIN ROSS, et al., Defendants.




         Plaintiff Chiwana Crandell (“Plaintiff”) brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (“DOCCS”) employees Kevin Ross and Gary Cooper, DOCCS Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci, Albion Correctional Facility Superintendent Sheryl Zenzen, DOCCS supervisors Duante Artus and Leigh Collins, and John Does 1-10 violated her rights to due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment and her right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. ECF No. 38.

         Defendants Annucci, Zenzen, Artus, and Collins (hereinafter “Defendants”)[1] now move to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint[2] for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Procedure (“Rule”) 12(b)(6). ECF No. 47. The United States District Court for the Northern District of New York transferred the case to this Court and declined to reach the merits of the motion to dismiss. ECF No. 60. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion to dismiss.


         Between 2011 and August 2015, Plaintiff was an inmate at New York State Albion Women's Correctional Facility (“Albion”). ECF No. 38 ¶ 16. In early 2015, Plaintiff learned that she may be eligible for “early release” in September 2015, instead of September 2016. Id. ¶ 25.

         At some point in 2015, Plaintiff “was assigned to a prison job” where Cooper-“a civilian non uniformed employee”-and Ross-a uniformed corrections officer-supervised inmates, including Plaintiff. Id. ¶¶ 4-5, 24. From March to July 2015, Cooper and Ross forced Plaintiff to go to secluded areas in Albion without surveillance and “repeatedly sexually harassed, raped and assaulted” her. Id. ¶ 17-23. She “was blackmailed, harassed, and terrorized into engaging in sex acts” with Cooper and Ross, who claimed that they could “see to it that she would receive early release in exchange for sex.” Id. ¶¶ 16, 26. They threatened that, “unless she went along and kept quiet about it, ” they would “sabotage her hearing” to ensure that she did not obtain early release. Id. ¶ 26. Cooper and Ross also warned that even if Plaintiff received an early release, they would “see to it that the early release would be revoked if she ever reported or otherwise complained about it.” Id.

         In May 2015, after the abuse had begun, “Plaintiff made repeated requests to see a gynecologist as she was not feeling well.” Id. ¶ 29. Her requests were denied, she was “compelled to file a written grievance, ” and a hearing was set for August 25, 2015. Id.

         In June 2015, Plaintiff was notified that her request for early release was granted. Id. ¶ 27. Shortly thereafter, Cooper “caused the Plaintiff to be fired from her prison job when she finally refused to have sex with him again.” Id. Plaintiff reported the assaults to Artus, the deputy of administration at Albion, and Collins, a “ranking corrections officer.” Id. ¶¶ 9-10, 20, 28. Artus and Collins “intimidated and threatened” retaliation against Plaintiff, stating that it would be “best for her if she did not complain about it.” Id. ¶ 28. Artus warned Plaintiff “that she was putting her early release in jeopardy by complaining, ” while Collins “began to chant ‘SHU' to intimidate Plaintiff by referring to special housing unit as a disciplinary measure for even mentioning what happened to her.” Id. ¶ 20.

         At some point in August 2015, Plaintiff was examined by a gynecologist, who diagnosed chlamydia. Id. ¶ 30. Plaintiff alleges that she had never tested positive for any disease during her incarceration, nor had she had any sexual relations while in prison, except with Cooper and Ross. Id. ¶ 34. Thereafter, Plaintiff's medical records-including her chlamydia diagnosis-were circulated in the prison as an apparent “campaign of intimidation and retaliation against her.” Id. ¶ 31. Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding the publication of her medical information and a hearing was set for August 25, 2015. Id.

         The hearing never occurred because on August 24, 2015, Plaintiff “was abruptly and summarily transferred to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, where she remained until her release from prison on September 3, 2015.” Id. ¶ 32.

         Plaintiff alleges that Annucci and Zenzen “facilitated th[e] harassment, rape and other recurrent sexual victimization by permitting supervisory officers such as Ross and Cooper to operate” as they did “by failing to monitor (through cameras or otherwise) known at-risk areas where the rapes and assaults took place, ” and by “permitting male only on [sic] female supervision.” Id. ¶ 36. Further, Plaintiff claims that Annucci and Zenzen “failed to employ obvious measures to reduce the risk of rape and sexual abuse of incarcerated women by corrections officers, ” despite knowing of the risk. Id. ¶¶ 39, 42.


         At the outset, the Court recognizes that it is exceedingly difficult to parse out what claims Plaintiff is trying to bring and against whom she is trying to bring them. She often makes sweeping, conclusory assertions of conduct by “Defendants, ” without any factual basis to infer that all Defendants participated in such conduct. Aside from identifying claims for denial of due process and equal protection and for cruel and unusual punishment, Plaintiff does not specify which claims or legal theories apply to which Defendants. The only guidance comes from the parties' moving and response papers, from which the Court is reluctant to read claims not contained in the Second Amended Complaint. See Mosby v. Bd. of Educ. City of Norwalk,754 Fed.Appx. 34, 37 (2d Cir. 2018) (summary order) (“[T]o the extent that Mosby seeks to pursue retaliation claims that were not part of his original complaint . . . the district court properly refused to entertain such arguments because Mosby neither asserted those claims in a proper amended pleading nor moved for leave to file an amended complaint that would raise them or augment his existing claim. Instead, Mosby first raised these new claims in ...

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