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DAVIDSON v. HARRIS

February 12, 1997

RONALD DAVIDSON, Plaintiff, -vs- LINDA HARRIS, M.D.; WILLIAM FLYNN, M.D.; UNKNOWN MEDICAL PERSONNEL 1-5; UNKNOWN PHYSICIANS 1-5; Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CURTIN

 CURTIN, District Judge

 BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff Ronald Davidson, an inmate at Attica Correctional Facility at the time of the events giving rise to this claim, brings this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendants and other medical personnel at the Erie County Medical Center ("ECMC") deprived him of medical attention in violation of his constitutional rights. Specifically, he claims that the defendants displayed deliberate or malicious indifference to his serious medical needs and that the defendants delayed treatment in retaliation for plaintiff's litigiousness.

 There are currently five motions pending in this case. Defendants filed two motions for summary judgment (Items 11 and 23) and submitted affidavits (Items 11 and 21), memoranda of law (Items 13 and 18), and statements of undisputed facts (Items 12 and 20) in support of these motions. On February 28, 1996, the court extended the deadline in which to complete discovery until August 19, 1996.

 Unfortunately, discovery did not proceed smoothly in this case, and the parties engaged in an intense dispute resulting in the filing of three additional motions. On July 10, 1996, plaintiff filed a motion for a protective order regarding the procedures for conducting a deposition that was scheduled to be taken on July 15, 1996 (Item 34). Plaintiff sought an order barring prison officials from conducting a strip search following his deposition or directing them to provide adequate provisions to conduct the deposition in a non-contact visiting room so that a strip search would not be necessary. Plaintiff's motion did not come to the court's attention, and probably not to the attention of Assistant Attorney General William Lonergan, until sometime after July 15, 1996. Consequently, on July 15, 1996, Mr. Lonergan went to Auburn Correctional Facility to conduct the noticed deposition of plaintiff. Aware of plaintiff's objections to strip searches, Mr. Lonergan arranged with prison officials for the deposition to be conducted in a non-contact visit area. Nonetheless, plaintiff refused to leave his cell and participate in the deposition. Defendants subsequently filed two separate motions to dismiss the action for failure to comply with an order of the court, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b) (Items 36 and 37). The parties submitted many briefs and affidavits regarding these motions, and the authorized discovery period expired. This discovery dispute sidetracked the parties' attention such that plaintiff never responded to defendants' motions for summary judgment.

 From the papers submitted in this action to date, it is undisputed that on July 8, 1995, plaintiff sustained stab wounds to his back, head and chest. Prison officials took plaintiff to the emergency room at ECMC for treatment of his wounds at approximately 12:00 p.m. on that day. Plaintiff received oxygen prior to his arrival at ECMC. Upon his arrival, plaintiff was placed on a cardiac monitor, his stab wounds were sutured and stapled, he was given antibiotics, pain killers, and oxygen, he was examined by defendant Dr. Flynn, and he was admitted to the prison ward for ongoing treatment. Plaintiff remained at ECMC until July 11, 1995.

 The parties do not dispute that plaintiff was treated at ECMC for his stab wounds. The fundamental dispute is over the timing of the treatment. Specifically, plaintiff contends that defendants ignored him for many hours and delayed dispensing the oxygen and pain killers for six to eight hours. In addition, he claims that throughout his hospitalization defendants frequently ignored his requests for treatment. Further, he alleges that defendants purposefully delayed treating plaintiff in retaliation for plaintiff's reputation for being litigious. Defendants deny that they ignored plaintiff at any time, that there was any significant delay in the delivery of needed oxygen or other medications, and that their knowledge of plaintiff's proclivity to resort to the courts influenced how they treated him.

 DISCUSSION

 I. Standard for Summary Judgment

 Summary judgment must be granted when the pleadings, affidavits, and any other supporting papers show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986); Lang v. Retirement Living Pub. Co., 949 F.2d 576, 580 (2d Cir.1991). Used properly, Rule 56 is a "vital procedural tool to avoid wasteful trials." Capital Imaging v. Mohawk Valley Medical Associates, 996 F.2d 537, 541 (2d Cir. 1993). The moving party carries the initial burden of demonstrating an absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986); Thompson v. Gjivoje, 896 F.2d 716, 720 (2d Cir.1990). Facts, inferences therefrom, and ambiguities must be viewed in a light most favorable to the non-movant. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986).

 When the moving party has met its burden, the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 586. At that point, the non-moving party "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. at 250. To withstand a summary judgment motion, ...


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