Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

NUNEZ v. HORN

October 29, 1999

JOSE NUNEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHRISTOPHER HORN, M.D., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurd, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Jose Nunez ("Nunez" or "plaintiff") brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendant Dr. Christopher Horn ("Dr. Horn" or "defendant") violated his Eighth Amendment rights in connection with medical treatment plaintiff received while an inmate at Ray Brook Federal Correctional Facility ("Ray Brook"). Defendant has moved for summary judgment. Plaintiff opposes.

II. FACTS

In 1989, three years prior to his incarceration, plaintiff fractured his left elbow when he fell from a horse. Plaintiff did not receive treatment for this injury and his elbow healed abnormally as a result. After arriving at Ray Brook in 1992, plaintiff was examined by the defendant, an orthopedic surgeon who provides medical services to inmates referred by physicians employed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. While plaintiff had limited range of motion, he had functional use of his left elbow and reported only mild pain. Dr. Horn initially treated Nunez conservatively.

Plaintiff increasingly complained of pain, crepitus, and locking. X-rays indicated a possible loose body or bone chip in the elbow. Dr. Horn sought and received permission to perform arthroscopic surgery in order to attempt to alleviate the pain, crepitus, and locking that Nunez was experiencing. On August 4, 1993, defendant performed the surgery at Alice Hyde Hospital in Malone, New York. He found no loose body or bone chip, but removed synovial and scar tissue. Dr. Horn observed, but did not remove, a bony block which prevented plaintiff from having full range of motion in his elbow. After the surgery, plaintiff's range of motion remained approximately the same, but he experienced less pain.

Plaintiff commenced this action, contending that Dr. Horn's failure to remove the bony block from his left elbow and failure to provide proper pain medication violated his Constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment.

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. Indus. 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. Indus. 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 Servs., 22 F.3d 1219, 1223-1224 (2d Cir. 1994) (citations omitted).

B. Whether Defendant Acted Under Color of State Law

"[I]n any § 1983 action the initial inquiry must focus on . . . (1) whether the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and (2) whether this conduct deprived a person of the rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States." Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535, 101 S.Ct. 1908, 68 L.Ed.2d 420 (1981), overruled on other grounds by Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 106 S.Ct. 662, 88 L.Ed.2d 662 (1986); West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48, 108 S.Ct. 2250, 101 L.Ed.2d 40 (1988); Bryant v. Maffucci, 923 F.2d 979, 982-83 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 849, 112 S.Ct. 152, 116 L.Ed.2d 117 (1991). Therefore, in order to prevail on his motion, the defendant must prove either that he did not deprive plaintiff of a federal statutory or Constitutional right by his actions, or that, notwithstanding his alleged actions, he did not act under color of state law.

In order to act under color of state law, a person must have exercised power "possessed by virtue of state law and made possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with the authority of state law." Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 317-18, 102 S.Ct. 445, 70 L.Ed.2d 509 (1981) (quoting United States v. Classic, 313 U.S. 299, 326, 61 S.Ct. 1031, 85 L.Ed. 1368 (1941)). Similarly, as is the case in the context of the Fourteenth Amendment's state action requirement, a deprivation of a federal or constitutional right is actionable pursuant to ยง 1983 when the deprivation was caused "by the exercise of some right or privilege ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.