Baldwin v. Arnone
Receipt of a letter of complaint or an inmate grievance is insufficient to establish personal involvement of supervisory officials. In November 2011, Correction Officers Johnson and Reginald Cummings allegedly searched the plaintiff, Delaine Baldwin's, cell and discovered that he had "pruno," a forbidden fermented juice. Johnson and Cummings charged Baldwin with possession of a prohibited contraband. Baldwin claimed that the substance was juice that he kept for religious observances, as opposed to "pruno." Baldwin refused to plead guilty. Allegedly, he was not allowed to present all of his evidence, and prison officials did not test the juice for evidence of fermentation. He was disciplined with segregation and loss of good-time credits. Baldwin sued the defendants, alleging that he was denied the right to due process and was subjected to discrimination on the basis of race and religion. The 11th Amendment bars claims against the defendants for monetary damages in their official capacities, and the court dismissed those claims. The defendants also moved to dismiss claims against Commissioner of Correction Leo Arnone and an administrator, Angel Quiros, because the plaintiff's complaint failed to allege any personal involvement of these supervisory officials. Respondeat superior is insufficient to allege a §1983 claim against a supervisory official. When ruling whether supervisors are responsible under 42 United States Code §1983 when subordinates commit a constitutional tort, courts may consider: 1.) whether the defendant directly participated in the alleged constitutional violation; 2.) whether the defendant failed to remedy a wrong about which the defendant was informed; 3.) whether the defendant created a policy or custom pursuant to which the constitutional violation took place; 4.) whether the defendant was grossly negligent in supervising subordinates; and 5.) whether the defendant was deliberately indifferent to the plaintiff's rights. Defendant Leo Arnone's receipt of an inmate grievance was insufficient to establish personal involvement of a supervisory official, and the court dismissed the plaintiff's claims against Arnone. The court granted the plaintiff permission to amend his complaint, to allege claims against Angel Quiros that establish personal involvement. The plaintiff may not include any new claims or new defendants in the amended complaint.