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Crawford v. Cuomo

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

August 11, 2015

JAMES CRAWFORD and THADDEUS CORLEY, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
ANDREW CUOMO as Governor of the State of New York, in his official capacity; BRIAN FISCHER, Commissioner of Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, in his official capacity; Superintendent WILLIAM P. BROWN, in his personal and official capacities; Superintendent WILLIAM LARKIN, in his official capacity; Corrections Officer SIMON PRINDLE; and JOHN DOE CORRECTIONS OFFICERS 1-8, Defendants-Appellees. [1]

Argued: February 24, 2015.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. No. 13 Civ. 406 -- Norman A. Mordue, Judge.

On March 5, 2014, the district court (Norman A. Mordue, J.) dismissed a complaint filed by Thaddeus Corley, an inmate at the Eastern Correctional Facility (" ECF" ), and James Crawford, a former ECF inmate, alleging that Corrections Officer Simon Prindle sexually abused them and, in doing so, subjected them to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. In dismissing the case, the district court concluded that the complaint failed to state a claim under Boddie v. Schnieder, 105 F.3d 857, 861 (2d Cir. 1997), which set forth the standard for stating an Eighth Amendment claim arising from sexual abuse in prison. Crawford and Corley appealed, arguing that the district court construed our opinion in Boddie too narrowly. We agree.

We write today to clarify the rule set forth in Boddie: A corrections officer's intentional contact with an inmate's genitalia or other intimate area, which serves no penological purpose and is undertaken with the intent to gratify the officer's sexual desire or to humiliate the inmate, violates the Eighth Amendment. Moreover, we recognize that sexual abuse of prisoners, once passively accepted by society, deeply offends today's standards of decency. The proper application of the rule in Boddie must reflect these standards.

By alleging that Officer Prindle fondled their genitals for personal gratification and without penological justification, Crawford and Corley stated a cognizable Eighth Amendment claim. Accordingly, we REVERSE the district court's order dismissing the complaint and REMAND the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

ADAM D. PERLMUTTER, Law Offices of Adam D. Perlmutter, P.C., New York, N.Y. (Daniel A. McGuinness, Law Offices of Adam D. Perlmutter, P.C., New York, N.Y.; Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, Law Office of Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, New York, N.Y., on the brief), for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

FRANK BRADY, Assistant Solicitor General of Counsel (Barbara D. Underwood, Solicitor General, Andrew Ayers, Assistant Solicitor General of Counsel, on the brief), for Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General of the State of New York, Albany, N.Y., for Defendants-Appellees.

Before: KATZMANN, Chief Judge, WALKER and LYNCH, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

John M. Walker, Jr., Circuit Judge :

On March 5, 2014, the district court (Norman A. Mordue, J. ) dismissed a complaint filed by Thaddeus Corley, an inmate at the Eastern Correctional Facility (" ECF" ), and James Crawford, a former ECF inmate, alleging that Corrections Officer Simon Prindle sexually abused them and, in doing so, subjected them to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. In dismissing the case, the district court concluded that the complaint failed to state a claim under Boddie v. Schnieder, 105 F.3d 857, 861 (2d Cir. 1997), which set forth the standard for stating an Eighth Amendment claim arising from sexual abuse in prison. Crawford and Corley appealed, arguing that the district court construed our opinion in Boddie too narrowly. We agree.

We write today to clarify the rule set forth in Boddie : A corrections officer's intentional contact with an inmate's genitalia or other intimate area, which serves no penological purpose and is undertaken with the intent to gratify the officer's sexual desire or to humiliate the inmate, violates the Eighth Amendment. Moreover, we recognize that sexual abuse of prisoners, once passively accepted by society, deeply offends today's standards of decency. The proper application of the rule in Boddie must reflect these standards.

By alleging that Officer Prindle fondled their genitals for personal gratification and without penological justification, Crawford and Corley stated a cognizable Eighth Amendment claim. Accordingly, we REVERSE the district court's order dismissing the complaint and REMAND the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from the complaint and must be accepted as true for the purposes of deciding this appeal. See Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 572, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) ( " [A] judge ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss a complaint must accept as true all of the factual ...


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