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SANTIAGO v. C.O. CAMPISI SHIELD # 4592

April 5, 2000

SAMMY SANTIAGO, PLAINTIFF,
V.
C.O. CAMPISI SHIELD # 4592, AND DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS DEFENDANTS, DEFENDANTS.



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

  OPINION AND ORDER

Pro se plaintiff Sammy Santiago brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action alleging deprivation of his Eighth Amendment rights while he was a pre-trial detainee under defendants' supervision. Defendants move for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(e). For the reasons stated herein, defendants' motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff's suit involves an assault he allegedly suffered while in pre-trial detention at the New York Supreme Court, Bronx County Courthouse in June 1996. According to plaintiff, on June 17 he asked Corrections Officer Louis Campisi if he could use a different bathroom, as the inmates' toilet was broken. In response, Campisi allegedly reached a hand through a prison gate that separated him from plaintiff and "brushed underneath [plaintiff's] eyes to near [his] nose." Santiago Dep. at 129-30. According to plaintiff, Campisi's action was intended to jab both of his eyes. Plaintiff alleges that defendant remarked to another corrections officer that he would "take care of [Santiago] later," Compl. at 3, and that, subsequently, on June 18, defendant Campisi sought him out and assaulted him without provocation. In this second alleged incident, plaintiff maintains that Campisi slapped him on the jaw, near his goatee, with the open palm of his right hand.

On June 17, within hours after the first alleged incident, plaintiff underwent a routine medical examination at the Montefiore Hospital Rikers Island Health Services Unit. See Brauner Decl, Exh. D. According to the record of that examination, plaintiff said nothing of the alleged assault by Campisi, nor did he report any injury or infirmity to the area of his body involved in the assault. See id. The only medical problem indicated in the report is plaintiff's depression, which was manifested in a suicide attempt two months earlier while plaintiff was in federal custody, and for which plaintiff was receiving treatment with antidepressant drugs. See id.

On June 21, plaintiff requested a mental health evaluation and was examined by a registered nurse. See Brauner Decl., Exh. E. The record of this evaluation describes plaintiff's history of depression, suicide attempts, and insomnia. See id. Plaintiff complained to the nurse that he was having difficulty sleeping, but plaintiff otherwise was described as in a "[p]leasant mood tonight." Id. The record makes no mention of either assault alleged by plaintiff, and there is no indication that plaintiff's treatment was modified. See id.

It is undisputed that plaintiff did not report any incident or injury to prison officials until ten days after the second assault allegedly occurred. On June 28, Santiago reported the alleged assaults to the Department of Corrections, which that day generated an "Injury to Inmate" report and sent plaintiff for a medical examination. During the examination, plaintiff reported the injuries alleged in his complaint to the examining clinician, who noted them in his report. See Brauner Decl., Exh. F. The clinician found "no swelling or tenderness" and "no evidence of other injuries." See id.

On July 1, investigating supervisor Captain Frank Squillante issued his report. See Brauner Decl., Exh. M. Plaintiff told Squillante that Campisi had committed these assaults, and that two other corrections officers, Darryl Chisholm and Benjamin Benitez, had witnessed them.*fn1 See id. Squillante determined that Chisholm was off-duty and had signed out when the assault allegedly occurred, and that Benitez was confirmed to have taken the entire day off. See id. Although Campisi was on duty, he was not assigned to the area where plaintiff was being held, nor did his duties require him to go there. See id. This is corroborated by the assignment schedule for corrections officers at the Bronx Supreme Courthouse, see Brauner Decl., Exh. B, and by the facility's inmate registers. See Brauner Decl., Exh. C. After interviewing the Campisi and the two alleged witnesses and obtaining their signed statements that they knew nothing of the incidents alleged, Squillante concluded that:

1. Inmate Santiago, Sammy fabricated this claim for personal reasons or reasons unknown by this investigator.
2. No records indicate any incident of this inmate being in the alleged area on said date and time.
3. Staff who was identified was not working at the time or day of this claim other than C.O. Campisi.
4. Medical review confirmed no injuries of the subject.

Brauner Decl., Exh. M. On July 1, Tour Commander Luis Velez reviewed the investigation report and concurred with Squillante's findings, concluding that plaintiff "fabricated this allegation" and that there were "no medical findings nor tangible evidence to support subject inmate's allegation." Brauner Decl., Exh. H.

On January 21, 1997, plaintiff filed the instant action, claiming defendant Campisi had violated his civil rights by perpetrating the alleged assault, and that the Department of Corrections is likewise liable for its failure to supervise and train defendant Campisi in an adequate manner.

On June 9, 1999, defendants moved for summary judgment. On June 28, 1999, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants, citing plaintiff's failure to oppose defendants' motion. On June 29, the Court learned that plaintiff had sent a letter requesting additional time to file his opposition, but had mistakenly mailed the letter to Judge Eaton's chambers rather than to the Court. Citing plaintiff's pro se status, the Court vacated the award of summary judgment, agreed to accept belatedly plaintiff's opposition papers, and directed defendants to submit their reply by September 3, 1999.

On September 9, defendants' motion was fully submitted to the Court. Plaintiff has on three subsequent occasions made further submissions to the Court, which the Court has considered despite the procedural impropriety of these filings.*fn2 In these submissions, plaintiff draws the Court's attention to the fact that he is illiterate and relies on fellow prisoners to assist him in these proceedings, in addition to the dozen unrelated civil suits he has filed since incarcerated. Plaintiff requests that the Court provide him with counsel to assist him in prosecuting his case, and requests that the Court appoint a guardian ad litem because of his illiteracy.

DISCUSSION

I. STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

A moving party is entitled to summary judgment if the Court determines that there exists no genuine issue of material fact to be tried and the party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R.Civ.P. 56; see also Holt v. KMI-Continental, Inc., 95 F.3d 123, 128 (2d Cir. 1996); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The moving party bears the burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970). "In moving for summary judgment against a party who will bear the ultimate burden of proof at trial, the movant's burden will be satisfied if he can point to an absence of evidence to support an essential element of the non-moving party's claim." Goenaga v. March of Dimes Birth Defects Found., 51 F.3d 14, 18 (2d Cir. 1995) (citation omitted); see also Scottish Air Int'l, Inc. v. British Caledonian Group, PLC, 81 F.3d 1224, 1231 (2d Cir. 1996).

The Court's function in adjudicating a summary judgment motion is not to try issues of fact, but instead to determine whether there is such an issue. See Sutera v. Schering Corp., 73 F.3d 13, 15-16 (2d Cir. 1995). In determining whether genuine issues of material fact exist, the Court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See Anderson ...


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