The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert W. Sweet, United States District Judge.
In this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, pro se plaintiff Anthony Dobbin
("Dobbin"), an inmate at the Green Haven Correctional Facility ("Green
Haven"), seeks compensatory and punitive damages for injuries arising out
of a fall down the stairs at that facility on January 18, 1998, which may
have exacerbated his preexisting chronic back condition. Dobbin alleges
that by failing to move him to a cell on the first floor of the
facility, or the "flats," so that he would not have to use the stairs,
the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical
needs, which led to his fall and compounded his back problems.
Defendants Christopher Artuz ("Artuz"), George Schneider
("Schneider"), Charles F. Kelly, Jr., ("Kelly"), Colman S. Wilson
("Wilson"), William F. Glasser ("Glasser"), Sabina Kaplan ("Kaplan"),
Norman H. Selwin ("Selwin"), Lynn G. Forgit ("Forgit"), Oliva A. McClean
("McClean"), and Byron Rodas ("Rodas") (collectively "defendants") have
moved for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56. Dobbin, who has been provided with the requisite notice advising him
of his obligations in surmounting the challenge, opposes the motion only
as to Artuz, Kelly, Kaplan, Selwin, McClean, and Rodas. Dobbin concedes
that dismissal of the claims against Schneider, Forgit, Wilson, and
Glasser, is appropriate.
For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted, and the
action dismissed as to all defendants.
At the time this action arose, Dobbin was an inmate in the
custody of the New York State Department of Correctional Services at
Green Haven in Stormville, New York. He has subsequently been transferred
to the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York.
Artuz was the Superintendent of Green Haven from May 1993 to April
2000, where he was responsible for the overall management and supervision
of the facility's staff and inmates.
At all times relevant to this action, Kelly was a correctional officer
with the rank of Lieutenant at Green Haven. His duties included acting as
Watch Commander, Disciplinary Lieutenant, and conducting disciplinary
Tier hearings, as well as investigating staff and inmate complaints. In
January 1998, Kelly was assigned to investigate Dobbin's complaint that
he had not been moved to a cell on the first floor of the facility, or
Wilson, Green Haven's Health Services Sergeant, is responsible for
maintaining security at the facility hospital and psychiatric unit, as
well as at the areas surrounding the commissary and counseling offices.
On January 18, 1998, he was assigned to work as the Housing Sergeant in
charge of the F Block, where Dobbin was housed. He was one of the first
correctional officers to arrive on the scene of Dobbin's accident.
At all times relevant to this action, Glasser was a Corrections Officer
at Green Haven. On January 18, 1998, he was a member of the First
Response Team, which required him to respond to emergencies in the
facility and care for inmates involved therein.
At all times relevant to this action, Dr. Selwin was the Acting Medical
Director at Green Haven. His responsibilities included managing his
caseload of patients, reviewing consults with administrators, seeing
inmates on sick call, supervising medical staff and ensuring that
patients were provided with adequate care.
Dr. Selwin admitted Dobbin to the infirmary following his discharge
from Saint Francis Hospital on January 18, 1998 as a result of the fall.
At all times relevant to this action, Forgit was a registered nurse at
Green Haven. Working the emergency sick call shift, Forgit's
responsibilities included examining and treating inmates at emergency
sick call and in the infirmary, conducting physical examinations, and
taking inmates' medical histories. She was also a member of the Medical
Response Team responsible for responding to medical emergencies that
arose within the facility.
Forgit was one of the Green Haven staff members who responded to the
alert after Dobbin fell.
McClean is a physician's assistant at Green Haven who examines and
treats inmates during regular and emergency sick call, and makes rounds
in the Special Housing and Protective Custody Units. When serving as the
"on-call provider," McClean examines inmates who have medical
emergencies. McClean admitted Dobbin to the Green Haven infirmary and
ordered medication for him upon his return from St. Francis Hospital on
January 19, 1998. Rodas has been a physician's assistant at Green Haven
since 1996. In that capacity, he examines and treats patients during
regular and emergency sick calls. Rodas examined Dobbin soon after he was
transferred to Green Haven from Sing Sing Correctional Facility ("Sing
Sing") in 1997, and thereafter served as Dobbin's primary care provider,
responsible for Dobbin's overall health care.
Except as otherwise noted, the following facts are undisputed. Inmates
arriving at Green Haven meet with a counselor, medical staff, members of
the Program Committee to determine their work assignment, and receive an
orientation. (Kaplan Aff. ¶ 8.)
If an inmate states that he is unable to work for medical reasons,
Program Committee staff refers the matter to the medical staff, who
examine the inmate, review his file, and advise the Committee of any
medical considerations pertinent to work assignments. (Kaplan Aff.
¶ 9.) The determination of where inmates are housed depends on two
factors: "job assignment" and medical need. (Kaplan Aff. ¶ 10.)
Inmates are primarily housed in housing unit blocks near their work
assignments. In addition, inmates may be moved to a cell on the "flats"
if they have a specific medical condition requiring such a placement,
medical staff authorizes the move, and submits a "work limitation form"
to the Program Committee. (Kaplan Aff. ¶¶ 10-11, 13.) The Program
Committee must forward the work limitation form to the Unit of Movement
and Control before the move can be accomplished. (Kaplan Aff. ¶ 13.)
Depending upon availability, the actual transfer of an inmate to a cell
on the flats could take anywhere from one day to several weeks. (Kaplan
Aff. ¶ 14.) Green Haven contains 84 cells on the flats, which are
located on the same
floor as the law library, clinic, and mess hall.
(Id.) Dobbin was transferred from Sing Sing on June 6, 1997.
As his medical records reflected that he had a history of back problems
and had been diagnosed with a herniated disc, Green Haven medical staff
scheduled a neurological consult and notified corrections staff that
Dobbin had to sleep on a bottom bunk. (Spitzer Dec. Ex. M at 564.) Dobbin
was assigned to a cell in the F-Block, on the second floor of the
facility. (Kaplan Aff. ¶ 33.)
On June 7, 1997, Dobbin requested an emergency sick call. Rodas
authorized a permit for Dobbin with instructions that he be assigned only
to a bottom bunk. (Rodas Aff. ¶ 16.) Dobbin requested another
emergency sick call on June 9, 1997, and complained to Rodas during his
examination that he had pain on his left side, and had not yet been moved
to a lower bunk.
Rodas filled out a form instructing the Program Committee to move
Dobbin to a bottom bunk, and sent a work limitations form to the Program
Committee Chairman excusing Dobbin from work for one week.
Dobbin was also scheduled for an appointment with a health care
provider. (Spitzer Dec. Ex. M, at 566, 567; Rodas Aff. ¶ 17.) Dobbin
was moved to a bottom bunk in another cell on the second floor on June
13, 1997. (Kaplan Aff. ¶ 34.)
Rodas examined Dobbin on June 17, 1998, and, while Dobbin was walking
slowly, his physical examination was otherwise unremarkable. Rodas
submitted consultations for several tests for Dobbin's back based on a
neurologist's prior recommendation. (Spitzer Dec. Ex. M at 566; Rodas
Aff. ¶ 19.)
On June 18, 1997, Rodas issued a work limitation form for Dobbin, which
specified that Dobbin may not stand long, bend, squat, push, or pull, but
may walk, do hand work, light work, and must be assigned to a bottom
bunk. (Spitzer Dec. Ex. M at 570; Kaplan Aff. ¶ 19; Rodas Aff.
Dobbin requested a block sick call on June 19, 1997 for chronic foot
problems. Rodas examined him several days later, on June ...