LANGUAGE

Davis v. State of New York, et al.

The plaintiff, an inmate at a New York State prison, alleged that New York State and officials of the New York State Department of Correctional Services violated his right to freedom from cruel and unusual punishment and his substantive due process rights protected under the U.S. Constitution, by exposing him to high levels of environmental tobacco smoke. According to the plaintiff, the conditions jeopardized his current and future health, and prison officials acted with intentional indifference, and even physically assaulted him, for raising his constitutional complaints.  In addition to several procedural defenses, the prison officials responded that they did not expose the plaintiff to levels of environmental tobacco smoke high enough to cause him serious injury and that the plaintiff could not establish a retaliation claim against them.  A magistrate judge found that the plaintiff could not substantiate important factual allegations and disposed of the complaint.  On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the magistrate's dismissal of the claims as against the New York State and prison officials in their official capacities. However, the Court returned the case to the magistrate for further examination of the plaintiff's behavior during a specific, critical time period, as well as examination of the retaliation claim on which the magistrate had not passed judgment.