The opinion of the court was delivered by: Scullin, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
Plaintiff, John Baumann, brings this civil rights complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the Defendants
violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Specifically, Plaintiff alleges the following federal causes of
action against Defendants: (1) violations of his Eighth Amendment
rights by failing to provide (a) reasonably safe work conditions
and (b) adequate medical care; and (2) violations of his
Fourteenth Amendment rights by (a) subjecting him to pain,
suffering, and emotional distress inconsistent with standards of
human decency, (b) being deliberately indifferent to his serious
medical needs, and (c) denying him a liberty interest without due
process through their deliberate indifference to his safety.
Plaintiff further alleges the following state law claims: (1)
Defendant McCollum violated state law prohibiting corrections
officers from diagnosing inmates' medical complaints; (2)
Defendants Byrnes and Spyker-Oles violated state law by failing
to provide medical care consistent with medical care given
non-inmates and by deliberately disregarding their duty to
provide medical care; and (3) Defendants Walsh, McMann, and
McCollum violated state law by failing to provide a safe working
Defendants object to that portion of Magistrate Judge Sharpe's
Report-Recommendation that does not recommend dismissal of the
complaint against Defendant McCollum. Defendants contend that
Magistrate Judge Sharpe erred in concluding (1) that Plaintiff's
medical infirmities rose to the level of a "serious medical need"
and (2) that Defendant McCollum was deliberately indifferent to
Plaintiff's personal safety.*fn1
This Court conducts a de novo review of those findings and
recommendations in a magistrate judge's report-recommendation to
which a party has filed objections. See
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). As noted, Defendants object in part to Magistrate
Judge Sharpe's recommendation regarding their cross-motion for
summary judgment. A moving party will be granted summary judgment
if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c). Defendants, as the moving party, have the burden of
demonstrating that no genuine issue of material fact exists. See
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91
L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). When the moving party has met its burden, the
non-moving party must come forward with specific facts showing a
genuine issue exists for trial. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89
L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). Because Plaintiff is the non-moving party,
all inferences and ambiguities are drawn in his favor. See
Thompson v. Gjivoje, 896 F.2d 716, 720 (2d Cir. 1990).
Additionally, since Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, the Court
will construe his pleadings and submissions more liberally than
submissions drafted by an attorney. See Platsky v. CIA,
953 F.2d 26, 28 (2d Cir. 1991).
Plaintiff brings two separate Eighth Amendment claims. Each of
these claims is subject to different tests and is analyzed
To establish an Eighth Amendment violation for improper or
inadequate medical treatment, Plaintiff must show (1) deliberate
indifference to (2) a serious medical need. See Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106, 97 S.Ct. 285, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976).
The first is a subjective component, while the latter is
objective. See Chance v. Armstrong, 143 F.3d 698, 702 (2d Cir.
1998). The Court will examine these factors in reverse order.
Magistrate Judge Sharpe found that Plaintiff established a
serious medical need, as evidenced by the extensive amount of
treatment received since 1995. As Magistrate Judge Sharpe
recognizes, no Circuit authority explicitly defines "serious
injury." However, courts recognize that Eighth Amendment
protection extends "beyond current health problems to those that
are `sufficiently imminent' and `sure or very likely to cause
serious illness and needless suffering in the next week or month
or year.'" Labounty v. Coombe, No. 95 CIV 2617, 1998 WL 2553,
at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Jan.5, 1998) (quoting Helling v. McKinney,
509 U.S. 25, 33, 113 S.Ct. 2475, 125 L.Ed.2d 22 (1993)). The standard
for serious medical needs contemplates "a condition of urgency
that may result in degeneration or extreme pain." Chance, 143
F.3d at 702 (emphasis added) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Plaintiff originally injured his elbow by falling out of a top
bunk. On September 15, 1995, he reinjured that elbow by falling
off a shelf at his prison job in the State Shop. Plaintiff was
seen by medical personnel because of pain or injury to his right
elbow no less than 27 times since his September 1995 accident,
indicating a pattern of persistent pain and discomfort, rather
than what Defendants refer to as "some intermittent pain." See
Defs.' Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J., at 16. The
Second Circuit once concluded that a "serious injury" existed
based largely on an inmate's repeated complaints of hip pain
related to broken pins in his hip. See Hathaway v. Coughlin,
37 F.3d 63, 67 (2d Cir. 1994). Moreover, Plaintiff's prison medical
reports show he continually complained of "severe" pain, and
several medical personnel labeled his elbow condition as
"degenerative arthritis¤ 7D" or as indicating "degenerative
changes."*fn3 See Spyker-Oles Aff. and Annexed Materials;
Pl.'s Affirmation of Service, Jul. 14, 1997, Annexed Medical
Record of Oct. 7, 1996 from Nassau County Medical Center.
The Second Circuit's recent decision in Chance v. Armstrong
reinforces Magistrate Judge Sharpe's conclusion that Plaintiff
had a serious medical need. Chance held that when determining
whether a medical condition is serious, among the factors that
"are highly relevant to the inquiry" are the "existence of an
injury that a reasonable doctor or patient would find important
and worthy of comment or treatment; the presence of a medical
condition that significantly affects an individual's ...