Vallen v. Pierre et al
MEMORANDUM & ORDER denying 44 Motion for TRO; denying 48 Motion for TRO For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff's motions (Docket Entries 44, 48) are DENIED. The Clerk of the Court is directed to mail a copy of this Order to the pro se Plai ntiff. Further, the Pro Se Office is directed to mail a copy of the Pro Se Manual to Plaintiff pursuant to his request (See, Docket Entry 49). Given Plaintiff's pro se status, the Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this Memorandum and Order would not be taken in good faith and therefore in forma pauperis status is DENIED for purposes of an appeal. So Ordered by Judge Joanna Seybert on 2/14/2017. C/M; C/ECF (Valle, Christine)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
MARIE PIERRE, CHERYL DENTON, LAURA
ANTINI, DAVID WEIGHMAN, Director
of Safety Department, Pilgrim
Psychiatric Center, and GORDON MAY,
Chief of Services, Pilgrim
Barry Vallen, pro se
Pilgrim Psychiatric Center Hospital
998 Crooked Hill Road
W. Brentwood, NY 11717
Lori L. Pack, Esq.
Theresa N. Wilson, Esq.
New York State Attorney General’s Office
300 Motor Parkway, Suite 230
Hauppauge, NY 11788
SEYBERT, District Judge:
Currently pending before the Court in this Section 1983
action are: (1) Plaintiff’s motion for a temporary restraining
order dated May 6, 2016 (Docket Entry 44) and (2) Plaintiff’s
motion for a temporary restraining order dated May 25, 2016 (Docket
For the following reasons, Plaintiff’s motions are
action against Marie Pierre, Cheryl Denton, Laura Antini, Gordon
May and David Weighman (“Defendants”) on November 20, 2013.1
(Compl., Docket Entry 1.)
Plaintiff is a patient at Pilgrim
Psychiatric Center (“Pilgrim”), and Defendants are employed by
violation of the Fourth Amendment.
(Compl. at 4-6.)
2014, Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint.
On April 14,
The motion was referred to Magistrate Judge Arlene R.
recommending that the motion be granted in part and denied in part.
(R&R, Docket Entry 30.)
Specifically, Judge Lindsay recommended
that Plaintiff’s claims for money damages against Defendants in
their official capacities be dismissed, but that his claims for
injunctive relief against Defendants in their official capacities
and his claims for money damages against Defendants in their
individual capacities proceed to discovery.
Court adopted the R&R in its entirety.
(R&R at 16-17.)
(Order, Docket Entry 31.)
Gordon May and David Weighman were named in the Complaint as
“Seventh Floor Administrators” and added as Defendants after
they were identified. (See Ltr., Docket Entry 10; Summons,
Docket Entry 12.)
On May 6, 2016, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking a
temporary restraining order (“TRO”).
(First Mot., Docket Entry
Particularly, he seeks a TRO directing Pilgrim staff to
refrain from entering his room and to cease tampering with his
(First Mot. at 1.)
He alleges that certain correspondence
was not delivered to him and that correspondence he attempted to
mail was never sent out.
(First Mot. at 1-2.)
He further alleges
that individuals entered his room, went through his drawers and
closet and stole his personal belongings.
(First Mot. at 2.)
Defendants opposed the motion and argued that Plaintiff failed to
(Defs.’ Ltr., Docket Entry 45.)
On May 13, 2016, Plaintiff
supplemented his motion and reiterated his request for a TRO.
(Pl.’s Ltr., Docket Entry 46.)
He maintained that one of the
Defendants, Cheryl Denton, entered his room and stole his property,
(Pl.’s Ltr. at 1.)
On May 25, 2016, Plaintiff filed a second motion for a
(Second Mot., Docket Entry 48.)
Plaintiff alleges that he
was on the phone complaining about a nurse when a therapy aide
(Second Mot. at 1.)
He states that the aide
threatened to harm him if he did not end the call and subsequently
went into his room and stole his personal belongings.
Mot. at 1.)
Additionally, Plaintiff maintains that his room is a
“target of any staff that holds a grudge.”
(Second Mot. at 1.)
He requested that the Court hold a hearing and issue a TRO. (Second
Mot. at 1.)
On May 25, 2016, he filed a letter requesting a copy
of the manual for pro se litigants.
(Pl.’s Second Ltr., Docket
On June 6, 2016, he filed a supplement to his motion,
alleging that one aide improperly ordered a search of his room and
another aide threatened to “punch [his] head throug[h] the wall
for defying him.”
(Pl.’s Third Ltr., Docket Entry 51.)
repeats his earlier allegations that Cheryl Denton stole $25 from
him and a therapy aide threatened him during a phone call.
On June 22, 2016, Plaintiff filed a letter detailing
(Pl.’s Fourth Ltr., Docket Entry 52.)
demonstrate “(a) irreparable harm and (b) either (1) likelihood of
success on the merits or (2) sufficiently serious questions going
to the merits to make them a fair ground for litigation and a
balance of hardships tipping decidedly toward the party requesting
the preliminary relief.”3
Johnson v. Connolly, 378 F. App’x 107,
Because Plaintiff failed to request leave to file supplemental
briefs, the Court will not consider his letters at Docket
Entries 51 and 52.
Courts in this Circuit apply the same standard regardless of
whether the parties seek a temporary restraining order or
108 (2d Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
Additionally, where the movant seeks a “mandatory injunction” that
will “alter rather than maintain the status quo,” he must satisfy
likelihood of success on the merits.”
Id. (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted).
Plaintiff’s allegations of mail tampering.
In his First Motion,
Plaintiff requests a TRO directing Pilgrim and its employees to
cease tampering with his legal and non-legal mail.
(First Mot. at
A patient who is committed to a psychiatric institution has
a “right to the free flow of incoming and outgoing mail . . .
protected by the First Amendment.”
Davis v. Goord, 320 F.3d 346,
351 (2d Cir. 2003); Ahlers v. Rabinowitz, 684 F.3d 53, 64 (2d Cir.
2012) (applying standards set forth in Davis in civil commitment
[patient’s] rights to access the courts.”
Davis, 320 F.3d at 351.
preliminary injunction. See, e.g., Grandy v. BAC Home Loan
Servicing, LP, No. 10-CV-4278, 2010 WL 3842428, at *2 (E.D.N.Y.
Sept. 28, 2010) (“‘[T]he standards which govern consideration of
an application for a temporary restraining order . . . are the
same as those which govern a preliminary injunction.’”) (quoting
Local 1814, Int’l Longshoremen’s Ass’n v. N.Y. Shipping Ass’n
Inc., 965 F.2d 1224, 1228 (2d Cir. 1992)) (ellipsis in
However, Plaintiff’s Complaint does not contain any
allegations of interference with his mail.
did not assert a First Amendment claim. Accordingly, because these
allegations are outside the scope of the claims asserted in this
action, Plaintiff’s motion for a TRO with respect to mail tampering
See, e.g., Lopez v. McEwan, No. 08-CV-0678, 2009 WL
179815, at *2 (D. Conn. Jan. 23, 2009) (“Because the plaintiff’s
restrictions are unrelated to the claims in the Complaint . . .
the request for injunctive relief . . . is inappropriate.”); Suarez
v. Keiser, No. 04-CV-6362, 2008 WL 4415197, at *2 (W.D.N.Y.
Sept. 24, 2008) (“Plaintiff’s application for injunctive relief
must be denied, since it involves matters that are unconnected to
the specific claims in this lawsuit.”).
As to Plaintiff’s remaining allegations, the Fourth
Amendment protects the right to “be free from unreasonable searches
Ahlers, 684 F.3d at 61.
In order to conduct a
search, a warrant based on probable cause is usually required.
See Aiken v. Nixon, 236 F. Supp. 2d 211, 230 (N.D.N.Y. 2002),
aff’d, 80 F. App’x 146 (2d Cir. 2003).
officials do not need a warrant or probable cause to conduct a
impracticable.’” Aiken, 236 F. Supp. 2d at 230-31 (quoting Griffin
v. Wisconsin, 483 U.S. 868, 873, 107 S. Ct. 3164, 3168, 97 L. Ed.
2d 709 (1987)).
A warrantless search is permissible when “it is divorced
individual against the interests of the state.
Ahlers, 684 F.3d
In Ahlers, the Second Circuit explained that in the case
interests in “order, security and treatment” must be weighed
against the patient’s privacy and property interests.
Plaintiff’s motions allege that members of Pilgrim’s
staff have conducted improper searches of his room and confiscated
his personal belongings.
The Court finds that these allegations
Plaintiff has not shown a “likelihood of success on the merits” on
his Fourth Amendment claim or “sufficiently serious questions
going to the merits” of that claim.
Johnson, 378 F. App’x at 108.
As an initial matter, it is unclear whether Plaintiff had a
reasonable expectation of privacy.4
Moreover, state facilities
Several courts in this Circuit have held that patients who are
involuntarily committed to psychiatric institutions do not have
a reasonable expectation of privacy in their rooms. See, e.g.,
Lombardo v. Holanchock, No. 07-CV-8674, 2008 WL 2543573, at *8
such as Pilgrim have interests in order, security, and treatment
which must be considered.
See Ahlers, 684 F.3d at 61.
Plaintiff has failed to proffer any evidence beyond his own
statements in support of his application.
As such, the Court
declines to issue a temporary restraining order at this time.
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff’s motions (Docket
Entries 44, 48) are DENIED.
The Clerk of the Court is directed to
mail a copy of this Order to the pro se Plaintiff.
Pro Se Office is directed to mail a copy of the Pro Se Manual to
Plaintiff pursuant to his request (See, Docket Entry 49).
Plaintiff’s pro se status, the Court certifies pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this Memorandum and Order
would not be taken in good faith and therefore in forma pauperis
status is DENIED for purposes of an appeal.
Coppedge v. United
States, 369 U.S. 438, 444–45, 82 S. Ct. 917, 8 L. Ed. 2d 21 (1962).
14 , 2017
Central Islip, New York
/s/ JOANNA SEYBERT______
Joanna Seybert, U.S.D.J.
(S.D.N.Y. June 25, 2008) (“[A]s an involuntarily detained
person, [plaintiff] has no Fourth Amendment right against
searches of his cell, and thus no claim under § 1983 for the
alleged violations of his Fourth Amendment rights.”); Ahlers v.
Bosco, No. 12-CV-0575, 2012 WL 6649191, at *3 (N.D.N.Y. Dec. 20,
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