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BAKER v. WILLETT

March 10, 1999

EUGENE BAKER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SHELDON WILLETT, SUED INDIVIDUALLY AND AS DEPUTY SHERIFF OF THE WARREN COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT; WARREN COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT; AND THE COUNTY OF WARREN, NEW YORK, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurd, United States Magistrate Judge.

                            MEMORANDUM-DECISION
                                 AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, Eugene Baker ("Baker" or "plaintiff") commenced this action on August 11, 1997, against the defendants as a result of injuries sustained while he was an inmate at the Warren County Jail in Lake George, New York. Baker asserts causes of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1988, the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments, and a pendent state law claim. The defendants have moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R.Civ.P. 56. This matter was submitted for decision without oral argument.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

B. Motion

The causes of action alleged against Willett, in his individual and official capacities, are for excessive use of force and assault and battery; and against the defendants County of Warren ("County") and the Warren County Sheriffs Department are for deliberate indifference as a result of negligent training and supervision of personnel.*fn1 Defendants' motion asserts that there is no basis for municipal liability, that Willett did not use excessive force, and that he is entitled to qualified immunity. In addition, defendants claim that plaintiffs pendent state claim for assault and battery is barred by the Statute of Limitations because plaintiff did not file a notice of claim within ninety days, and did not file suit within one year and ninety days of the alleged conduct which is the subject of his complaint. Plaintiff opposes the motion.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment must be granted when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, and affidavits 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, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Lang v. Retirement Living Pub. Co., 949 F.2d 576, 580 (2d Cir. 1991). 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, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (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 nonmovant. Matsushita Elec. Indns. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Project Release v. Prevost., 722 F.2d 960, 968 (2d Cir. 1983).

When the moving party has met the burden, the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indns. Co., 475 U.S. at 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348. 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: Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. at 250, 106 S.Ct. 2505; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348. To withstand a summary judgment motion, evidence must exist upon which a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmovant. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 248-249, 106 S.Ct. 2505; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348. Thus, summary judgment is proper where there is "little or no evidence in support of the non-moving party's case." Gallo v. Prudential Residential Serv's., 22 F.3d 1219, 1223-1224 (2d Cir. 1994) (citations omitted).

B. Excessive Use of Force Claim against Willett

1. Standard

The Eighth Amendment prohibits "the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103, 97 S.Ct. 285, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976) (quoting Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 173, 96 S.Ct. 2909, 49 L.Ed.2d 859 (1976)). When prison officials are accused of using excessive force, the standard is "whether [the] force was applied in a good faith effort to maintain or restore discipline or maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm." Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 320-21, 106 S.Ct. 1078, 89 L.Ed.2d 251 (1986) (quoting Johnson v. Glick, 481 F.2d 1028, 1033 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 1033, 94 S.Ct. 462, 38 L.Ed.2d 324 (1973)). Conduct must be "`inconsistent with contemporary standards of decency' and `repugnant to the conscience of mankind'" to be actionable under the Eighth Amendment. Id. at 327, 106 S.Ct. 1078 (quoting Estelle, 429 U.S. at 103, 106, 97 S.Ct. 285). Five factors relevant in determining whether officers acted maliciously are: The need for force, the relationship between the need and the amount of force used, the extent of the injury suffered, the extent of the threat to the safety of staff and inmates, and any efforts made to temper the severity of a forceful response. See id. at 321, 106 S.Ct. 1078 (citing Glick, 481 F.2d at 1033); see also Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 7, 112 S.Ct. ...


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