Candelaria v. Greifinger, et al.

The Plaintiff, a nonsmoker incarcerated at the Clinton Correctional Facility, sought an injunction requiring prison officials, inter alia, to house Plaintiff in a cell with no tobacco smokers.  A U.S. Magistrate found that Candelaria “has failed to satisfy either of the two prongs necessary to establish that defendants have violated his Constitutional rights by failing to prohibit all tobacco smoking at Clinton.”  Those two prongs are that the Plaintiff “himself is being exposed to unreasonably high levels of ETS” and that the “risk of which he complains is not one that today’s society chooses to tolerate.”  The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York adopted the magistrate’s order at 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4616, noting that Candelaria sought an injunction “based on his right to be free from a breathing impairment pursuant to the Americans With Disabilities Act.”  The Court found that “even if Candelaria eventually succeeds in maintaining his ADA claim, he failed on this motion to establish that the relief requested [a total smoking ban] is reasonable.”

On or about December 2, 1997, Candelaria was transferred to the Elmira Correctional Facility.  He filed a supplemental complaint, alleging that the Department of Correctional Services officials were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs re: exposure to ETS in violation of the Eighth Amendment.  Defendants argued that because they have tried to minimize the inmates’ exposure to ETS by adopting a policy that bans smoking in most areas of the prison, Candelaria cannot establish a deliberate indifference claim.  The Court (Pooler, J.), at 1998 U.S.Dist. LEXIS 5531 (1998), denied the Defendants’ motion to dismiss, because, on such a motion, “I need not determine whether Candelaria will ultimately succeed in his claims, but only whether he has stated a legally cognizable cause of action.”  The Court further ruled that “Candelaria has sufficiently plead a cause of action under the ADA [Americans With Disabilities Act], and the question of the reasonableness of the accommodation he requests, a total ban on smoking at the prison, must abide development of the record . . . . Accordingly, I deny defendants’ motion to dismiss part of Count III of the supplemental complaint.”

1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4617 (1997).