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RODRIGUEZ v. WESTCHESTER COUNTY JAIL CORRECTIONAL DEP'T.

April 17, 2003

IVAN RODRIGUEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WESTCHESTER COUNTY JAIL CORRECTIONAL DEPARTMENT, ASSOC. WARDEN MIRANDA, EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM (ERT), WESTCHESTER COUNTY JAIL, SGT. GARY JOHNSON, SUPERVISOR (ERT), OFFICER ROSENDORN 733 (ERT), TWO UNKNOWN MEMBERS OF ERT (HEREINAFTER) JOHN DOE-1, JOHN DOE-2, EMSA CORRECTIONAL CARE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert P. Patterson, Jr., United States District Judge.

OPINION AND ORDER

Defendant EMSA Correctional Care ("Defendant" or "EMSA") moves for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion is granted.

Factual Background

Plaintiff Ivan Rodriguez ("Plaintiff'), a prison inmate proceeding pro se, brought suit against Defendant pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs and thereby violated Plaintiff's rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

According to the allegations in Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint, during a search of Plaintiff's person on October 26, 1997 at Westchester County Jail, corrections officers uncovered a sharpened piece of metal, or "shank," hidden in the collar area of Plaintiff's t-shirt. (Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint ¶¶ 8-9.) Plaintiff alleges that after removing the shank from his possession, one of the officers "twisted Plaintiff's right arm behind his back," "grabbed Plaintiff by the back of his head/hair," and threw him to the ground. (Id. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff suffered injuries to his face, including "an open wound over Plaintiff's left eyebrow," and was knocked unconscious as a result of being forcibly thrown to the ground. (Id.) Plaintiff claims he was subsequently taken back to his cell, where he was beaten in "an unprovoked wanton assault." (Id.)

Thereafter, Plaintiff was brought to the facility clinic, where he alleges EMSA employees refuse[d] to listen [to] and adequately examine Plaintiff when he complained about having pain in his chest, head, back, left wrist and right rib cage." (Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff also claims "it was obvious to the medical staff that the large cut over Plaintiff's left eyebrow needed to be use [sic] of real stitches instead of the butterfly stitches he received," which resulted in a "permanent ugly and noticeable" scar on his face. (Id.) Furthermore, he claims Defendant "had the responsibility to refer Plaintiff to the outside hospital" so he could receive adequate medical care. (Id.)

Plaintiff alleges that as a result of the injuries he sustained on October 26, 1997, he still suffers from headaches and "dark pa[t]ches" on the top of his skull, a scar over his left eyebrow, a "possibly fractured wrist which [has] never been the same since the incident," "bruises on [his] legs where dark pa[t]ches still exist and still hurt upon light contact," and a worsened heart problem. (Id. ¶ 15.)

Defendant offers its medical records taken in the regular course of business to support its factual allegations about the treatment it provided to Plaintiff in response to his injuries of October 26, 1997. Plaintiff's admissions in his deposition, taken on April 2, 2001, support Defendant's Local Rule 56.1 Statement of Material Facts as follows.

First, Defendant claims that "[a]ppropriate treatment was afforded to [P]laintiff especially in light of the fact that [P]laintiff stated that he fell in the day room and denied any other injuries." (Defendant's Rule 56.1 Statement of Material Facts ¶ 7, citing Defendant's Notice of Motion Exhibit E, EMSA Correctional Care Progress Notes Dated 10/26/97.) During his deposition, Plaintiff admitted that, in view of the presence of a corrections officer, he told the EMSA nurse that he had slipped and fallen in the day room when she asked him what had happened, and Plaintiff did not show her his bruises or otherwise apprise her of the full extent of his injuries: "I didn't tell anything to her. I just said I was in pain and my body hurt, my chest hurt and my leg and my back hurt too." (Def.'s Notice of Mot. Ex. F, Deposition of Plaintiff on 4/2/01 at 53-54.)

In addition, Defendant claims that on October 26, 1997, it treated Plaintiff's injuries with Tylenol and conducted "a physical examination of [P]laintiff's color, respiration and perspiration, cleaning and shaving of [P]laintiff's eyebrow for proper application of five (5) steri strips to close a three (3) centimeter long, two (2) millimeter deep cut to the [P]laintiff's eyebrow." (Def.'s Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 7, citing Def.'s Notice of Mot. Ex. E, EMSA Correctional Care Progress Notes Dated 10/26/97.) Plaintiff admitted during his deposition that the EMSA nurse treated him by taking his blood pressure and by applying five butterfly stitches, a bandage to the cut over his eye and by giving him medicine. (Def.'s Notice of Mot. Ex. F, Dep. of Pl. at 53-54.)

Furthermore, Defendant claims a nurse visited Plaintiff's cell approximately forty-five minutes after he left the clinic to investigate the chest pains Plaintiff had complained of earlier; the nurse noted he was "not in any respiratory distress," his color was "good," his skin was "warm and dry" and "his cut was no longer bleeding." (Id. at ¶ 8.) At his deposition, Plaintiff stated that the EMSA nurse visited him in his cell about an hour after he left the clinic to again take his blood pressure, at which time Plaintiff repeated his complaints about chest and body pain. (Def.'s Notice of Mot. Ex. F, Dep. of Pl. at 55-57.) He has admitted the nurse "gave [him] an appointment and said [she] would take [him] back to the clinic," where he was checked again and referred by a doctor for x-rays. (Id. at 57-58.) Two days after the incident, Defendant authorized x-rays to be taken of Plaintiff's skull and rib cage, and it was determined that Plaintiff had sustained a fractured rib. (Def.'s Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 9; Def.'s Notice of Mot. Ex. E, Progress Notes of 11/3/97.) Plaintiff confirmed these facts in his deposition. (Def.'s Notice of Mot. Ex. F, Dep. of Pl. at 58.)

Defendant has also provided evidence that one of its doctors prescribed Procardia 20 mg, and Plaintiff concedes he was given pills for high blood pressure as well as a pain killer. (Id.; Def.'s Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 8, citing Def.'s Notice of Mot. Ex. E, EMSA Correctional Care Progress Notes Dated 10/26/97.)

In addition to the claims that Plaintiff has alleged in his Complaint, Plaintiff has raised three new Eight Amendment claims for the first time in his Reply.

First, Plaintiff claims that as a result of the injuries he sustained on October 26, 1997, he suffered "headaches, dizziness and great pain in the his head." (Plaintiff's Reply at 4.) He states that due to his head injuries, he has suffered a "serious problem with [his] vision" over "the last few years" and needs to wear "contact glasses to see for long distance." (Id.) In support of his claim that Defendant acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs, he alleges that EMSA doctors "never did an MRI or a CT Scan to make sure [P]laintiff was OK after the assault," and he points to a report in his medical records by EMSA doctors, Walter E. Bottizer and Oscar D. Bentinganan, which states, "If ...


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