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JACKSON v. JOHNSON

September 13, 2000

TERRISINA JACKSON; AND KATEENYA THOMAS, AS GUARDIAN OF HER MINOR LEE JACKSON, PLAINTIFFS,
V.
JOHN A. JOHNSON, COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW YORK STATE DIVISION FOR YOUTH; STEPHEN FARKAS, DIRECTOR OF THE LOUIS GOSSETT, JR. RESIDENTIAL CENTER; CLARENCE THOMAS, YOUTH DETENTION AIDE AT THE LOUIS GOSSETT JR. RESIDENTIAL CENTER; JON LACKEY, YOUTH DETENTION AIDE AT THE LOUIS GOSSETT JR. RESIDENTIAL CENTER; GARY WOOD, YOUTH DETENTION AIDE AT THE LOUIS GOSSETT JR. RESIDENTIAL CENTER; ERIC WARNER, YOUTH DETENTION AIDE AT THE LOUIS GOSSETT, JR. RESIDENTIAL CENTER; WILLIAM SAPHARA, YOUTH DETENTION AIDE AT THE LOUIS GOSSETT, JR. RESIDENTIAL CENTER; LILIA JOHNSON, NURSE AT THE LOUIS GOSSETT JR. RESIDENTIAL CENTER; AND SHELLY AUBERTINE, YOUTH DIVISION COUNSELOR AT THE LOUIS GOSSETT, JR. RESIDENTIAL CENTER, DEFENDANTS.



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

      MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

On April 28, 1997, the plaintiffs commenced the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendants violated their constitutional rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.*fn1 The plaintiffs have also asserted various related state law claims. The defendants moved separately for summary judgment, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.*fn2 Plaintiffs oppose.*fn3 Oral argument was heard on June 9, 2000 in Utica, New York. Decision was reserved.

II. FACTS*fn4

The following facts are viewed in a light most favorable to the nonmovant plaintiffs. On March 18, 1996, plaintiff Lee Jackson ("Jackson" or "plaintiff"), then fourteen years old, was adjudicated a juvenile delinquent and, by order of the Family Court, was placed in the custody of the New York State Division for Youth ("DFY") for up to one year.*fn5 Jackson was originally placed in the Oatka Residential Center ("Oatka"), located in Industry, New York, which is near Rochester. After a physical altercation occurred between Jackson and Youth Detention Aides ("YDA") at Oatka, Jackson was transferred to the Louis Gossett, Jr. Residential Center ("Gossett"), which is located near Oswego in Lansing, New York, on May 31, 1996. The officers who transported Jackson told the Intake Officer at Gossett, Brian Sweet, that Jackson assaulted an older staff member and had assaultive propensities. Gossett staff members were then informed of this via entries made in the facility's main log. Jackson cooperated with all intake procedures and was taken to Unit 8.

On the morning of June 1, 1996, Jackson's first day at Gossett, defendants Clarence Thomas ("YDA Thomas") and Jon Lackey ("YDA Lackey") were assigned to Unit 8. At approximately 8:00 a.m., Jackson went to the bathroom. As he exited, he was approached by YDA Thomas, who directed him to go to the juncture office.*fn6 Apparently, as a new resident, Jackson was not supposed to go anywhere in the facility unless he was accompanied by a YDA. In the juncture office, YDA Thomas, who stands 5' 11" and weighs approximately 220 pounds, verbally confronted Jackson, who is approximately 5' 5" and 145 pounds, while YDA Lackey stood at the door. YDA Thomas pushed Jackson backward, forcing Jackson into a chair. At some point thereafter, YDA Thomas initiated a physical restraint technique ("PRT") on Jackson.*fn7 YDA Lackey, who is 5' 11" and approximately 250 pounds, assisted by taking the secondary position.

YDA Thomas and YDA Lackey continued to apply the PRT for approximately ten minutes before the Youth Division Counselor and Officer of the Day, defendant Shelly Aubertine ("YDC Aubertine"), arrived at the scene. Jackson had initially resisted, but by the time YDC Aubertine arrived, he had become unresponsive. Jackson was clammy, gasping for breath, and salivating. At some point during this restraint, YDA Lackey assumed the primary position and defendant YDA Gary Wood ("YDA Wood") assumed the secondary position. The YDA's continued to apply the PRT under YDC Aubertine's supervision for another twenty minutes until Jackson was rendered unconscious. Thus, Jackson had been restrained for approximately thirty minutes. The facility's nurse, defendant Lilia Johnson. ("Nurse Johnson"), was summoned to the scene. While waiting for the nurse to arrive, no attempts were made to revive Jackson.

Jackson was still being restrained when Nurse Johnson arrived at the juncture office. She observed that Jackson was "limp with his head erect and his eyes half open." (Lilia Johnson Dep. at 111-12.) She administered smelling salts, took Jackson's pulse, and evaluated his pupillary response by turning the flourescent lights off and on. She also applied hot and cold towels to his stomach. When Jackson failed to come out of a semiconscious state, Nurse Johnson directed that he be placed in a shower. YDA Thomas and YDA Lackey placed Jackson in a shower, after which he was brought to his room to change into dry clothes before being taken to the medical unit. When Jackson was unable to change his own clothing, YDA Thomas and YDA Lackey changed his shirt, leaving him in his wet pants. They then carried Jackson by his arms and legs to the medical unit for a post restraint evaluation by Nurse Johnson and an administrative review by YDC Aubertine.

YDC Aubertine asked a series of standard open-ended questions designed to evaluate Jackson's level of consciousness. The following questions and answers were exchanged during the course of YDC Aubertine's review:

Q. Why were you restrained (and/or placed in mechanical restraints, if applicable)?

A. "No"

Q. How were you restrained (and/or placed in mechanical restraints, if applicable)?

A. "No"

Q. Who were the staff involved?

A. "No"

Q. Where did it happen?

A. "No"

Q. Who saw it?

A. "No"

(Pls.' Ex. 6 at 3.)

After YDC Aubertine completed her evaluation, Jackson was escorted to a counter to sign post restraint forms. He was then brought back to a room to be evaluated by Nurse Johnson. When asked by Nurse Johnson, "Do you have any injuries or pain?," Jackson responded, "I can see you." (Pls.' Ex. 8b.) Jackson did not respond when Nurse Johnson asked him how he got his injuries. According to Nurse Johnson, Jackson performed some physical exercises slowly but satisfactorily. After her examination, Nurse Johnson cleared Jackson to be released back into the program.

Approximately one hour later, after being released from the medical unit, Jackson was taken to the cafeteria. One of Gossett's YDA's, Dwayne Robinson, stated that Jackson "looked sluggish, he looked spaced out. His shoulders were slumped forward, his head was down, he was dragging his right leg, he did not walk in a normal fashion." (Pls.' Ex. 164 at 2.) Some Gossett residents described Jackson as dazed and disheveled, weak, dizzy, and uncoordinated. (See Pls.' Summ. J. Exs. 48-52.) When Jackson attempted to secure a tray in the cafeteria, some of the trays fell to the ground.*fn8 As a result of this, YDA Wood escorted Jackson to the Spiritual Room and shouted at him. Jackson was then brought back to the cafeteria to eat breakfast.

Jackson did not resist the second restraint and initially stated that he was sorry. When YDC Aubertine arrived at the scene this time, Jackson was screaming that he could not breathe and had regurgitated some of the cereal that he had eaten for breakfast. Jackson stopped responding and went limp after approximately ten minutes. However, YDA Lackey believed that Jackson was feigning and therefore, this second PRT was not terminated for approximately twenty more minutes.

When the PRT was terminated, YDA Wood went to the medical unit to obtain smelling salts. Smelling salts were administered twice; Jackson did not respond either time. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation ("CPR") was commenced after Emergency Medical Technicians arrived with an ambulance. Jackson was taken to Cayuga Medical Center where he remained comatose for approximately two months. Jackson now suffers from serious and permanent physical and mental injuries.

Plaintiffs have asserted nine causes of action. The FIRST cause of action alleges 1) excessive force under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and deliberate indifference to life and safety against YDA Thomas, YDA Lackey, and YDA Wood, 2) failure to intervene and deliberate indifference to life and safety against YDA Warner, YDA Saphara, and YDC Aubertine, and 3) failure to train and supervise and deliberate indifference to life and safety against John Johnson ("Commissioner Johnson"), the Commissioner of DFY, and Steven Farkas ("Director Farkas"), Director of Gossett. The SECOND cause of action asserts the same claims as the first cause of action, only pursuant to the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Plaintiffs THIRD cause of action alleges negligence against YDA Thomas, YDA Lackey, YDA Wood, YDA Warner, YDA Saphara, YDC Aubertine, Commissioner Johnson, and Director Farkas. Claim FOUR asserts 1) assault and battery and failure to provide medical care against YDA Thomas, YDA Lackey, and YDA Wood, and 2) failure to intervene and/or provide medical care against YDA Warner, YDA Saphara, and YDC Aubertine.

The FIFTH cause of action alleges 1) failure to provide adequate medical care in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments against Nurse Johnson, YDA Thomas, YDA Lackey, YDA Wood, YDA Warner, YDA Saphara, and YDC Aubertine, and 2) failure to provide adequate medical care/training against Commissioner Johnson, and Director Farkas. The SIXTH cause of action asserts the same claims as the fifth cause of action, only pursuant to the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Plaintiffs SEVENTH cause of action alleges 1) negligent medical care and medical malpractice against Nurse Johnson, YDA Thomas, YDA Lackey, YDA Wood, YDA Warner, YDA Saphara, and YDC Aubertine, and 2) negligent supervision against Commissioner Johnson, and Director Farkas. Claim EIGHT alleges retaliation for the exercise of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights against all nine defendants. Finally, plaintiffs' NINTH cause of action alleges 1) unlawful seizure against YDA Thomas, YDA Lackey, and YDA Wood, and 2) failure to adequately train and supervise against Commissioner Johnson and Director Farkas.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Claims by Terrisina Jackson

The defendants claim that Terrisina Jackson ("Terrisina"), Lee Jackson's mother,*fn9 has failed to plead any individual claims for relief and therefore, any purported claims made by her must be dismissed. Alternatively, the defendants claim that Terrisina's claims must be dismissed to the extent that they may be considered derivative to Lee Jackson's. The plaintiffs allege that Terrisina's claims are not derivative, but are based on the injuries she will suffer resulting from her loss of association with her son.

The notice pleading standard contained in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not require a claimant to set out detailed facts upon which the claim for relief is based; it merely requires a statement sufficient to give adequate notice to the adverse party and enable preparation of a response. See Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988). In this case, even a liberal reading of the complaint does not reveal any individual claims on behalf of Terrisina. The complaint alleges in each cause of action that the defendants' conduct violated Lee Jackson's rights resulting in injury to him, and that therefore, both plaintiffs are entitled to compensatory and punitive damages. The complaint gives no notice to the defendants regarding the basis for any individual claims by Terrisina. Therefore, all claims purportedly asserted by Terrisina Jackson must be dismissed.

B. 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 248-49, 106 S.Ct. 2505; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348. Thus, summary judgment ...


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