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RODRIGUEZ v. DOWNSTATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY

March 31, 2003

ESTHER RODRIGUEZ, AS PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF GREGORY DARBY, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DOWNSTATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Loretta A. Preska, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Esther Rodriguez brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as public administrator of the estate of Gregory Darby, who died shortly after his release from Willard Drug Treatment Campus ("Willard") in December of 1998. Plaintiff alleges that defendants' deliberate indifference to Darby's medical needs while he was at Willard constitutes a violation of the Eighth Amendment. By notice of motion filed July 26, 2002, defendants Merry Ann Behm, Martin Buonanno and Dr. David Walrath*fn1 moved for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

The following facts, taken from the parties' statements of facts and affidavits, are undisputed unless otherwise indicated. Gregory Darby*fn2 began serving a 90-day term at Willard on September 25, 1998, as a result of a conviction for possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree. (State Defendants' Statement Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1 ("Defs' Statement of Facts") ¶¶ 18-19, 27). Upon Darby's arrival at Willard, staff nurses filled out a medical summary form noting that he had congestive heart failure, dilated cardiomyopathy and hypertension. (Id. ¶ 20). Defendant Dr. David Walrath, the Medical Director of Willard, examined Darby after having reviewed his medical records from Downstate Correctional Facility and learning that Darby had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy. (Affidavit of David Walrath, M.D. ("Walrath Aff.") ¶¶ 24-25). Walrath placed Darby in the C-2 Medical Platoon, where parolees identified as having a significant medical problem which prevented them from functioning as part of the regular population were placed. (Id. ¶ 27; Defs' Statement of Facts ¶¶ 33, 39).

During the relevant time period, defendant Merry Ann Behm was a Parole Officer at Willard assigned to the C-2 Medical Platoon. (Defs' Statement of Facts ¶ 7). Defendant Martin Buonanno worked at Willard as a program assistant. (Id. ¶ 13). Both defendants Behm and Buonanno were members of Darby's treatment team at Willard.

Darby was hospitalized at Cayuga Medical Center twice during his stay at Willard — from October 23 to 26 and from November 28 to December 3, 1998. (Id. ¶¶ 59, 62, 87, 90). Upon his return after the second hospital visit, Darby was placed in the infirmary at Willard, where he remained until his release on December 15. (Id. ¶ 90). Darby entered North General Hospital the day after his release and died on December 26, 1998. (Id. ¶ 140).

DISCUSSION

I. Standard Applicable to a Motion for Summary Judgment

"A motion for summary judgment may not be granted unless the court determines that there is no genuine issue of material fact to be tried and that the facts as to which there is no such issue warrant judgment for the moving party as a matter of law." Chambers v. TRM Copy Centers Corp., 43 F.3d 29, 36 (2d Cir. 1994); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). See generally Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986); Matsushita Elec. Indus. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574 (1986). An issue of fact is genuine when "a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party," and facts are material to the outcome of the particular litigation if the substantive law at issue so renders them. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

The burden of establishing that no genuine factual dispute exists rests on the party seeking summary judgment. See Chambers, 43 F.3d at 36. "In moving for summary judgment against a party who will bear the ultimate burden of proof at trial," however, "the movant's burden will be satisfied if he can point to an absence of evidence to support an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim." Goenaga v. March of Dimes Birth Defects Found., 51 F.3d 14, 18 (2d Cir. 1995); accord Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., Ltd. Partnership, 22 F.3d 1219, 1223-24 (2d Cir. 1994) ("The moving party may obtain summary judgment by showing that little or no evidence may be found in support of the nonmoving party's case."). The moving party, in other words, does not bear the burden of disproving an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim.

If the moving party meets its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); accord Rexnord Holdings, Inc. v. Bidermann, 21 F.3d 522, 525-26 (2d Cir. 1994). The nonmoving party must "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. Instead, the nonmovant must "`come forward with enough evidence to support a jury verdict in its favor, and the motion will not be defeated merely . . . on the basis of conjecture or surmise.'" Trans 4 Sport v. Starter Sportswear, 964 F.2d 186, 188 (2d Cir. 1992) (citation omitted).

In assessing materials such as affidavits, exhibits, interrogatory answers and depositions to determine whether the moving party has satisfied its burden, the court must view the record "in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion" by resolving "all ambiguities and drawing all factual inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought." Chambers, 43 F.3d at 36. "If, as to the issue on which summary judgment is sought, there is any evidence in the record from any source from which a reasonable inference could be drawn in favor of the nonmoving party, summary judgment is improper." Id. at 37 (emphasis added).

Deliberate ...


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