Gonsalves v. Brooklyn Detention Complex
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER granting 3 Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis; granting 8 Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis and DISMISSING ACTION: For the reasons stated in the attached Memorandum and Order, Gonsalves's compla int is dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this order would not be taken in good faith and therefore in forma pauperis status is de nied for purpose of an appeal. The Clerk of Court is directed to mail a copy of this Memorandum and Order and accompanying Judgment to the plaintiff pro se and note the mailing on the docket. Ordered by Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf on 4/13/2016. (Mauskopf, Roslynn)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
15-CV-5750 (RRM) (RLM)
-againstBROOKLYN DETENTION COMPLEX,
ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF, United States District Judge.
Plaintiff Ronald Gonsalves, proceeding pro se and housed at the Brooklyn Detention
Complex, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Compl. (Doc. No. 1).)
Gonsalves’s request to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, (Doc. No. 3), is
granted for the purposes of this Order. For the reasons stated below, the complaint is dismissed
for failure to state claim upon which relief may be granted.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
A complaint must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face,” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), and “allow[ ] the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). At the pleading stage of the proceeding, the Court must assume the
truth of “all well-pleaded, nonconclusory factual allegations” in the complaint. Kiobel v. Royal
Dutch Petroleum Co., 621 F.3d 111, 123 (2d Cir. 2010), aff’d, 133 S. Ct. 1659 (2013) (citing
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Although all allegations contained in the complaint are assumed to be
true, this tenet is “inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. In addition, a pro se
complaint is “to be liberally construed,” Ahlers v. Rabinowitz, 684 F.3d 53, 60 (2d Cir. 2012), and
interpreted “to raise the strongest arguments that [it] suggest[s],” Graham v. Henderson, 89 F.3d
75, 79 (2d Cir. 1996).
However, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, a district court “shall review, before docketing, if
feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in
which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a
governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Upon review, a district court shall dismiss a
prisoner’s complaint sua sponte if the complaint is “frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief.” Id.; Liner v. Goord, 196 F.3d 132, 134 & n.1 (2d Cir. 1999) (noting that under the
Prison Litigation Reform Act sua sponte dismissal of frivolous prisoner complaints is not only
permitted but mandatory); see also Tapia-Ortiz v. Winter, 185 F.3d 8, 11 (2d Cir. 1999).
Gonsalves alleges that on August 29, 2015, while housed at the Brooklyn Detention
Complex, he slipped on water that was near the shower area and fell. (Compl. at ¶ IV.) As a
result, he fractured his right wrist. (Id. at ¶ IV.A.) For this injury, Gonsalves seeks monetary
damages. (Id. at ¶ V.)
I. Section 1983
In order to maintain a § 1983 action, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements. First,
“the conduct complained of must have been committed by a person acting under color of state
law.” Pitchell v. Callan, 13 F.3d 545, 547 (2d Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). Second, “the
conduct complained of must have deprived a person of rights, privileges or immunities secured by
the Constitution or laws of the United States.” Id. Section 1983 “does not create a federal right
or benefit; it simply provides a mechanism for enforcing a right or benefit established elsewhere.”
Morris–Hayes v. Bd. of Educ. of Chester Union Free Sch. Dist., 423 F.3d 153, 159 (2d Cir. 2005)
(citing Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, 471 U.S. 808, 816 (1985)).
Further, a plaintiff must allege the personal involvement of a defendant in the purported
constitutional deprivation. Farid v. Ellen, 593 F.3d 233, 249 (2d Cir. 2010). “Personal
involvement” may be established by evidence of direct participation by a supervisor in the
challenged conduct, or by evidence of a supervisory official’s “(1) failure to take corrective action
after learning of a subordinate’s unlawful conduct, (2) creation of a policy or custom fostering the
unlawful conduct, (3) gross negligence in supervising subordinates who commit unlawful acts, or
(4) deliberate indifference to the rights of others by failing to act on information regarding the
unlawful conduct of subordinates.” Hayut v. State Univ. of New York, 352 F.3d 733, 753 (2d Cir.
2003). A § 1983 complaint that does not allege the personal involvement of a defendant fails as a
matter of law. See Johnson v. Barney, 360 F. App’x 199, 201 (2d Cir. 2010) (summary order).
a. Brooklyn Detention Complex
Gonsalves names the Brooklyn Detention Complex as the sole defendant in this action.
Section 396 of the New York City Charter provides that “[a]ll actions and proceedings for the
recovery of penalties for the violation of any law shall be brought in the name of the [C]ity of
New York and not in that of any agency, except where otherwise provided by law.” N.Y. City
Charter ch. 17 § 396. Consequently, New York City Department of Correction facilities and the
Department of Correction are not suable entities. The Brooklyn Detention Center is part of the
New York City Department of Correction, and thus, may not be sued. See, e.g., Polanco v. Rikers
Island Anna M. Kross Correction, No. 14-CV-2063, 2014 WL 3015194, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. July 3,
2014) (finding that Rikers Island is not a suable entity).
To the extent that Gonsalves seeks to name the City of New York as a defendant, his
claim would likewise fail. A municipality, such as the City of New York, can be held liable under
§ 1983 if a plaintiff can show that a municipal policy or custom caused the deprivation of his
constitutional rights. Monell v. Dept. of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978); Jones v. Town of
East Haven, 691 F.3d 72, 80 (2d Cir. 2012). However, Gonsalves fails to allege any facts to
show: (1) the existence of a formal policy which is officially endorsed by the City; (2) actions
taken or decisions made by the City which caused the alleged violations of his civil rights; or (3)
any facts tending to support an inference that he was caused constitutional injury by the failure of
the City to properly train or supervise any potential individual defendants. See Missel v. Cty. of
Monroe, 351 F. App’x 543, 545 (2d Cir. 2009) (“The allegations that [defendant] acted pursuant
to a ‘policy,’ without any facts suggesting the policy’s existence, are plainly insufficient.”). Here,
Gonsalves has not alleged an unconstitutional policy or custom that would confer liability on the
City of New York.
Even if Gonsalves were to name a proper defendant, it is clear that his slip and fall claim
does not implicate a constitutional deprivation. Gonsalves’s claim that he slipped on water that
was located in the shower area at the Detention Complex is, at best, a claim for negligence.
Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 330–31 (1986) (holding negligence claims do not rise to the
level of a constitutional violation where petitioner slipped on pillow that respondent left on
stairs); Baptiste v. Nassau County Jail, No. 15-CV-0870, 2015 WL 1877717, at *3-4 (E.D.N.Y.
Apr. 23, 2015) (finding that a slip and fall at Nassau County Jail does not provide a basis for a
federal claim); see also Johnson v. New York City (Corp. Counsel), No. 10-CV-6193, 2011 WL
1795284, at *4–5 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 30, 2011), amended on reconsideration sub. Nom. Johnson v.
New York City, 2011 WL 2471030 (S.D.N.Y. June 21, 2011); Carr v. Canty, 10-CV-3829, 2011
WL 309667, *2 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 19, 2011).
Whereas ordinarily the Court would allow Gonsalves an opportunity to amend his
complaint, see Cruz v. Gomez, 202 F.3d 593, 597–98 (2d Cir. 2000), it need not afford that
opportunity here where it is clear from Gonsalves’s submission that he cannot state a plausible
claim for relief. Therefore, any attempt to amend the complaint would be futile. See Ashmore v.
Prus, 510 F. App’x 47, 49 (2d Cir. 2013) (holding leave to amend is futile where barriers to relief
cannot be surmounted by reframing the complaint); see also Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222 F.3d 99,
112 (2d Cir. 2000) (denying leave to amend a pro se complaint where amendment would be
Gonsalves’s complaint is dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any
appeal from this order would not be taken in good faith and therefore in forma pauperis status is
denied for purpose of an appeal. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444–45 (1962).
The Clerk of Court is directed to mail a copy of this Memorandum and Order and
accompanying Judgment to the plaintiff pro se and note the mailing on the docket.
Roslynn R. Mauskopf
ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF
United States District Judge
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
April 13, 2016
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?