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Young v. Department of Corrections

United States District Court, D. Vermont

October 6, 2016

Diheim Young, Plaintiff,
v.
Department of Corrections, Medical Staff, Correction Officers, and Northwest State Correctional Facility, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (Doc. 5)

          John M. Conroy United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Diheim Young, proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671-2680, for monetary damages against the “Department of Corrections, Medical Staff, Correction Officer[]s, ” and Northwest State Correctional Facility (NWSCF).[1] (Doc. 4 at 1.) Young alleges that his rights were violated at NWSCF. (Id. at 4.) Specifically, he asserts that as a pretrial detainee, officers “forgot [he] was in the cell, ” and he “rec[ei]ved inadequate dental care while in prison.” (Id.) He also appears to be asserting that he was retaliated against for grieving his situation. (Id.)

         Now pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc. 5.) Young has not filed a Response to the Motion.

         For the reasons that follow, I recommend that the Court GRANT Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 5).

         Background

         For purposes of deciding Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, the Court accepts as true the factual allegations contained in the Complaint, see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)), and views those facts “‘in the light most favorable'” to Young, Grullon v. City of New Haven, 720 F.3d 133, 139 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Chase Grp. Alliance LLC v. City of N.Y. Dep't of Fin., 620 F.3d 146, 148 (2d Cir. 2010)).

         The Complaint's allegations are minimal. It appears that Young is-or was at one point during the relevant time period-a pretrial detainee at NWSCF. (Doc. 4 at 4.) On March 27, 2015, while a pretrial detainee, he received “inadequate dental care.” (Id.) His care was inadequate because officers forgot him in his cell, thus denying him “medical attention.” (Id. at 7.) He also alleges that he tried to grieve his situation to the officers “on the Housing Unit, ” but the result was as follows: they told Young “that they ‘forgot [he] was in the cell'” (id. at 4), and Young “ended up getting restrain[ed] and escorted to solitary confi[ne]ment.” (Id.)

         The Complaint alleges both that he did not use the prisoner grievance procedure (id. at 3), but also that he “wrote several letters exhausting [his] administrative remedies and [hasn't] received any responses at all” (id. at 4).

         Analysis

         I. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

         “To survive a [Rule 12(b)(6)] motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Nielsen v. Rabin, 746 F.3d 58, 62 (2d Cir. 2014) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Also, on a 12(b)(6) motion, “the Court may consider documents attached as an exhibit [to the complaint] or incorporated by reference, documents that are ‘integral' to plaintiff's claims, even if not explicitly incorporated by reference, and matters of which judicial notice may be taken.” Thomas v. Westchester Cty. Health Care Corp., 232 F.Supp.2d 273, 275 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (citations omitted). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “Although plausibility is not a ‘probability requirement, ' [p]laintiffs must allege facts that permit ‘more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.'” Turkmen v. Hasty, 789 F.3d 218, 233 (2d Cir. 2015) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

         Two principles guide a plausibility determination. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Id. “[T]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Turkmen, 789 F.3d at 233 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). “Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. (citing Iqbal v. Hasty, 490 F.3d 143, 157-58 (2d Cir. 2007), rev'd, 556 U.S. 662 (2009)).

         Where, as here, a complaint is filed pro se, it “must be construed liberally with ‘special solicitude' and interpreted to raise the strongest claims that it suggests.” Hogan v. Fischer, 738 F.3d 509, 515 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Hill v. Curcione, 657 F.3d 116, 122 (2d Cir. 2011)). “This policy of liberally construing pro se submissions is driven by the understanding that ‘[i]mplicit in the right of self-representation is an obligation on the part of the court to make reasonable allowances to protect pro se litigants from inadvertent forfeiture of important rights because of their lack of legal training.'” Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 475 (2d Cir. 2006) (per curiam) (alteration in original) (quoting Traguth v. Zuck, 710 F.2d 90, 95 (2d Cir. 1983)). Consequently, when parties seek dismissal of pro se complaints, “courts ‘apply[ ] a more flexible standard to evaluate their sufficiency than we would when reviewing a complaint submitted by counsel.'” Thompson v. Pallito, 949 F.Supp.2d 558, 571 (D. Vt. 2013) (alteration in original) (quoting Lerman v. Bd. of Elections in the City of N.Y., 232 F.3d 135, 140 (2d Cir. 2000)). Still, a complaint filed by a pro se plaintiff “must state a plausible claim for relief.” Hogan, 738 F.3d at 515.

         II. Federal Tort Claims Act

         On the first page of the Complaint, Young indicates that he is bringing suit pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). (Doc. 4 at 1.) Defendants assert that “[t]here is . . . no cause of action against a state or state employees created by the FTCA.” (Doc. 5 at 1.) I agree.

         The FTCA “allows plaintiffs to seek damages from the United States for certain torts committed by federal employees.” Simmons v. Himmelreich, 136 S.Ct. 1843, 1845 (2016) (citing 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2674). The statute reads as follows:

[D]istrict courts . . . shall have exclusive jurisdiction of civil actions on claims against the United States, for money damages, accruing on and after January 1, 1945, for injury or loss of property, or personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government while acting within the scope of his office or employment, under circumstances where the United States, if a private ...

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