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BLISSETT v. EISENSMIDT
September 17, 1996
DONOVAN BLISSETT, Plaintiff,
P.K. DEPUTY EISENSMIDT, D.S.S., SGT. CASEY, OFFICER JOHNSON, SGT. GREEN, THOMAS GRAHAM, TIMOTHY MULHALL, A. CONNORS, R.N. MEDICAL DEPT., J. HEILDENBLOCK AND DR. FOOTE, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCCURN
Following a three day trial of this prisoner civil rights action, the jury returned a verdict, with the exception of one defendant,
in favor of plaintiff. Guided by a verdict form, the jury found that defendants Casey,
Greene, and Mulhall, all of whom were COs at Great Meadow Correction Facility ("the facility") during the relevant time frame, violated plaintiff Donovan Blissett's Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment when they allegedly used excessive force on him. At the same time, however, the jury also found that none of those defendants committed a battery upon plaintiff. The jury did find, though, that defendant Anne Connors, a nurse at the facility, violated plaintiff's Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and that she committed a battery upon him when she injected him once in each buttock with a tranquilizer. Based upon those findings, the jury awarded plaintiff actual damages in the amount of $ 5,600.00. In addition, the jury expressly found that defendants Casey, Connors, Greene, and Mulhall acted "maliciously or wantonly against the plaintiff so as to be subject to punitive damages[.]" Jury Verdict Form at 5, P 15 (Docket # 164).
Because, among other things, this case is before the court on a motion for judgment as a matter of law ("JMOL"), the court notes that at the close of the case, and prior to submitting this case to the jury, the defendants moved for that same relief pursuant to Rule 50. As the basis for that motion, defendants argued that plaintiff had failed to establish a prima facie cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in that there was no proof of injury.
Transcript ("Tr."), Vol. I at 230. Defendants further argued that plaintiff did not come forth with adequate proof to establish that he had been assaulted; nor did he establish that any of the defendants had committed a battery upon him. Id. Significantly, defendant Connors did not move for JMOL on the grounds of qualified immunity. After listening to argument by both counsel, the court denied defendants' motions, with two exceptions. With plaintiff Blissett's consent, the court dismissed the action as against defendant Dr. Foote. Id. at 241. The court also granted defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's pendent state law assault claim. Id.
Given the jury's determination that the defendants should be subject to punitive damages, the court proceeded with a hearing on that issue, at which each of them testified. At the close of that proof, the jury returned a separate verdict form, awarding punitive damages as follows:
Estate of Daniel Casey $ 21,422.00
Anne Connors $ 31,650.00
Ralph Greene $ 4,878.00
Timothy Mulhall $ 22,031.00
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