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GREENWOOD v. NEW YORK

August 29, 1996

ALBERT GREENWOOD, M.D., Plaintiff, against THE STATE OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: PRESKA

 LORETTA A. PRESKA, District Judge:

 Plaintiff Albert Greenwood, M.D. ("Greenwood") brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and pendent state law claims. Defendants have moved under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for summary judgment on Greenwood's Section 1983 claims. Greenwood opposes this motion, arguing that genuine and material factual issues preclude summary judgment. For the following reasons, defendants' motion is granted.

 BACKGROUND

 Greenwood began working for defendant New York State Office of Mental Health ("OMH") as a staff psychiatrist in November 1977. (Plaintiff's Affidavit in Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment ("Pl. Aff.") P 6.) Specifically, he worked for defendant Manhattan Psychiatric Center ("MPC"), a mental health institution maintained and operated by OMH for New York County. (Id.) In November 1978, OMH permanently appointed Greenwood to the title of Psychiatrist II under New York State Civil Service Law, Rules, and Regulations. (Id. P 7.)

 Upon beginning at MPC, Greenwood became a member of the MPC Medical Staff Organization ("MSO"), an entity which the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Hospitals ("JCAH") requires every hospital to maintain for the purpose of advising hospital administration in matters involving the quality of patient care. (Id. P 9.) The MSO and hospital administration operated according to the MPC By-laws, Rules and Regulations of the Medical Staff ("Medical Staff By-laws"). (Id. P 10.)

 The MSO was comprised of various subcommittees. One of these subcommittees -- the Credentials Committee -- was responsible for assuring the quality of the medical staff. (Id. P 11.) It reviewed the professional education, training, skills, experience, and practice of the members of the medical staff and made recommendations to MPC's Executive Director regarding the level of clinical privileges to be accorded to each physician. (Id.) In fulfilling its responsibilities, the Credentials Committee was governed by the policies and procedures set forth in the MPC Credentials Committee Policy and Procedure Manual ("Credentials Manual"). (Id. P 13.)

 On April 19, 1982, Koz served Greenwood with a notice of discipline seeking to terminate Greenwood's employment from MPC, primarily complaining of Greenwood's negligence in connection with one of the patient deaths resulting in the loss of Greenwood's clinical privileges. (Plaintiff's Counter-Statement to the Defendant's Amended Rule 3(g) Statement ("Pl. 3(g)") P 119.) The parties engaged in years of arbitration and, in early 1989, Greenwood was reinstated to MPC, albeit without clinical privileges. (Id. PP 129, 130.) Next, on September 7, 1989, defendant Michael Ford ("Ford"), who replaced Koz as MPC's Director, brought another disciplinary proceeding against Greenwood, seeking termination because of Greenwood's refusal to accept a job assignment. (Id. P 134.) Greenwood was terminated pursuant to this second arbitration. (Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment ("Opp. Memo.") at 15.)

 Greenwood filed the instant action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and pendent state law theories. He alleges that defendants "engaged in a continuous course of conspiratorial conduct, motivated by malice, evil intent or a reckless or callous disregard or indifference to plaintiff's federally protected rights." (Second Amended Complaint ("Am. Compl.") at 1-2.) He complains that all of the allegations against him and resulting actions taken by defendants were a contrived effort to rid him from MPC. Specifically, he complains that defendants deprived him of a property interest in his clinical privileges without due process of law, and that "defendants' dissemination of the stigmatizing information contained in their fabricated 'Credentials Committee' report effectively rendered plaintiff unemployable" and, therefore, deprived him of his liberty interest in the free pursuit of his chosen occupation as a psychiatrist without due process of law. (Opp. Memo. at 26.)

 As for defendants New York State, OMH, and MPC (collectively, "state defendants"), Greenwood seeks an injunction directing them to reinstate his clinical privileges to practice at MPC. (Am. Compl. P 78.) As for the other defendants, all of whom are employees (mostly physicians) of OMH or MPC (collectively, "individual defendants"), Greenwood sued them in their individual capacities seeking compensatory damages of $ 10 million and punitive damages of $ 10 million per claim. (Id. PP 79, 82, 85, 88.) Defendants have moved for summary judgment, relying on, inter alia, the Eleventh Amendment for state defendants and the doctrine of qualified immunity for individual defendants. Their motion is granted.

 DISCUSSION

 I. Summary Judgment Standard

 "A motion for summary judgment may not be granted unless the court determines that there is no genuine issue of material fact to be tried and that the facts as to which there is no such issue warrant judgment for the moving party as a matter of law." Chambers v. TRM Copy Centers Corp., 43 F.3d 29, 36 (2d Cir. 1994); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). See generally Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986). An issue of fact is genuine when "a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party," and facts are material to the outcome of the particular litigation if the substantive law at issue so renders them. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

 The burden of establishing that no genuine factual dispute exists rests on the party seeking summary judgment. Chambers, 43 F.3d at 36. "In moving for summary judgment against a party who will bear the ultimate burden of proof at trial," however, "the movant's burden will be satisfied if he can point to an absence of evidence to support an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim." Goenaga v. March of Dimes Birth Defects Found., 51 F.3d 14, 18 (2d Cir. 1995); accord Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., Ltd. Partnership, 22 F.3d 1219, 1223-24 (2d Cir. 1994) ("The moving party may obtain summary judgment by showing that little or no evidence may be found in support of the nonmoving party's case."). The moving party, in other words, does not bear the burden of disproving an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim.

 If the moving party meets its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); accord Rexnord Holdings, Inc. v. Bidermann, 21 F.3d 522, 525-26 (2d Cir. 1994). The nonmoving party must "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. Instead, the nonmovant must "'come forward with enough evidence to support a jury verdict in its favor, and the motion will not be defeated merely . . . on the basis of conjecture or surmise.'" Trans Sport v. Starter Sportswear, 964 F.2d 186, 188 (2d Cir. 1992) (citation omitted).

 In assessing materials such as affidavits, exhibits, interrogatory answers, and depositions to determine whether the moving party has satisfied its burden, the court must view the record "in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion" by resolving "all ambiguities and drawing all factual inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought." Chambers, 43 F.3d at 36. "If, as to the issue on which summary judgment is sought, there is any evidence in the record from any source from which a reasonable inference could be drawn in favor of the moving party, summary judgment is improper." Id. at 37 (emphasis added).

 II. Eleventh Amendment

 Defendants New York State, OMH, and MPC argue that Greenwood's suit against them is barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Greenwood, however, devotes no attention to this argument. The only allegations by Greenwood which bear on this issue are those in his Second Amended Complaint, wherein he describes OMH as a "duly-constituted agency of the State of New York which is statutorily charged with the responsibility to provide habitation, care, treatment and rehabilitation of certain mentally ill persons within the State of New York," and he describes MPC as "the local mental health hospital facility owned, operated, controlled and maintained by the defendant, OMH." (Am. Compl. PP 7, 8.) Notwithstanding Greenwood's ...


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