The opinion of the court was delivered by: Homer, United States Magistrate Judge.
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER*fn1
On August 19, 1998, a jury returned a verdict in the above captioned
case awarding nominal damages of one dollar against defendants Daniel
Senkowski ("Senkowski") and William Costello ("Costello"). Presently
pending are motions by the defendants pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) and
60(a) to amend the judgment and pursuant to Fed. R.Civ.P. 50(b) for
judgment as a matter of law. Docket No. 65. For the reasons which
follow, both motions are granted.
Clinton Correctional Facility ("Clinton") is a maximum security prison
located in Dannemora, Clinton County and operated by the New York
Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS"). N.Y.Comp.Codes R. & Regs.,
tit. 7 ("NYCCRR"), § 100.15 (1998).*fn2 Clinton houses approximately
2,800 inmates. On August 20, 1991, these inmates included Frederick
Matthews ("Matthews") and Aaron Breaziel ("Breaziel"). On that date
Breaziel was being held in the involuntary protective custody ("IPC")
area of Cell Block E after he had been attacked by another inmate with a
razor while in the general population.*fn3 Matthews was placed in the
IPC unit on August 20 after he too was attacked by an inmate with a razor
in general population. Both Breaziel and Matthews were placed in
involuntary rather than voluntary protective custody after each refused
to cooperate in identifying his assailant.
II. Motion to Amend the Judgment
The judgment entered by the Clerk of the Court erroneously indicated
that Armitage had been held liable along with Senkowski and Costello.
Docket No. 64. Plaintiff does not oppose Armitage's motion to correct the
judgment. Pl.'s Mem. of Law (Docket No. 71), p. 1. The motion to correct
the judgment is granted.
III. Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law
Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b), the district court may direct the entry of a
judgment as a matter of law following a jury verdict that is not
supported by legally sufficient evidence. This Is Me, Inc. v. Taylor,
157 F.3d 139, 142 (2d Cir. 1998). Judgment as a matter of law should be
entered when "(1) there is such a complete absence of evidence supporting
the verdict that the jury's findings could only have been the result of
sheer surmise and conjecture, or (2) there is such an overwhelming amount
of evidence in favor of the movant that reasonable and fair minded
[jurors] could not arrive at a verdict against [it]." Cruz v. Local Union
No. 3 of the Int'l Bhd. of Elec. Workers, 34 F.3d 1148, 1154 (2d Cir.
1994) (citations omitted); Mendoza v. City of Rome, N.Y, 872 F. Supp. 1110,
1114-15 (N.D.N.Y. 1994) (Hurd, M.J.).
The movant's burden on a postverdict Rule 50 motion is a high one.
Concerned Area Residents for the Env't v. Southview Farms 34 F.3d 114,
117 (2d Cir. 1994). In considering the motion, a court must view the
evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant, giving the
non-movant the benefit of all reasonable inferences the jury may have
drawn from the evidence. Jones v. Spentonbush-Red Star Co., 155 F.3d 587,
591 (2d Cir. 1998). A court may not re-weigh the evidence or assess the
credibility of witnesses. Id.*fn4
B. Eighth Amendment Claim
The Eighth Amendment places a burden on prison officials to "take
reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of . . . inmates." Hudson v.
Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526-27, 104 S.Ct. 3194, 82 L.Ed.2d 393 (1984). That
burden includes an obligation to protect prisoners from violence at the
hands of other prisoners. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 833, 114
S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994); Hendricks v. Coughlin, 942 F.2d 109,
113 (2d Cir. 1991). Not every injury suffered by one inmate at the hands
of another imposes constitutional liability, however. Farmer, 511 U.S. at
834, 114 S.Ct. 1970. A prisoner asserting an Eighth Amendment claim must
establish both that the deprivation alleged is sufficiently serious and
that the defendant acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind.
Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298, 111 S.Ct. 2321, 115 L.Ed.2d 271