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United States District Court, S.D. New York

December 15, 2004.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, District Judge



Edwin Melendez, an incarcerated and pro se plaintiff, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 against New York City Department of Correction ("NYCDOC") Officers Simmonds and Cruse.*fn1 Construing the complaint liberally, Melendez alleges that during a February 27, 2003 incident at Bronx Supreme Court, defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights.*fn2 Defendants now move for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.*fn3 For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted.*fn4


  On February 27, 2003, Melendez was escorted by court officers to a holding pen in the basement of the Bronx Supreme Court.*fn5 Once he reached the basement, Melendez claims that he was transferred into the custody of NYCDOC.*fn6 Melendez submits that at this point he "became dizzy as a result of [his] low blood pressure," and that Simmonds "forced [him] to keep moving, holding [him] by [his] arm."*fn7 Melendez subsequently collapsed, sustaining injuries to his left eye and neck.*fn8 The incident occurred at approximately 3:00 p.m.,*fn9 and EMS technicians began attending to Melendez no later than 3:15 p.m.*fn10 A Bronx Supreme Court officer escorted Melendez to Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx,*fn11 where his injuries were treated.*fn12 After his medical treatment, Melendez was taken to the Bronx Criminal Court and turned over to the custody of NYCDOC.*fn13

  Although Melendez names Cruse as a defendant,*fn14 he does not plead any specific claim against Cruse in his complaint.*fn15 However, at his deposition, Melendez stated that Cruse (1) was the highest ranking officer on the scene at the time of Melendez's injury,*fn16 (2) argued with a Bronx Supreme Court officer about who was responsible for Melendez after he fell,*fn17 and (3) was negligent because this argument delayed Melendez's medical treatment.*fn18


  A. Summary Judgment

  Summary judgment is appropriate where "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law."*fn19 "An issue of fact is `genuine' if `the evidence is such that a jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'"*fn20 "A fact is `material' for these purposes if it `might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.'"*fn21 The movant has the burden of demonstrating that no genuine issue of material fact exists.*fn22 If the movant meets this burden, the non-moving party must then "come forward with `specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'"*fn23 "`Mere conclusory allegations, speculation or conjecture will not avail a party resisting summary judgment.'"*fn24 In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, courts must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.*fn25

  When the non-moving party "`chooses the perilous path of failing to submit a response to a summary judgment motion, the district court may not grant the motion without first examining the moving party's submission to determine if it has met its burden of demonstrating that no material issue of fact remains for trial.'"*fn26 If the movant does not meet its burden of production, then the court must deny summary judgment even if the non-movant does not oppose the motion.*fn27 Moreover, the court may not rely solely on the movant's statement of undisputed facts contained in its Rule 56.1 statement.*fn28 The court must be satisfied that the movant's assertions are supported by the evidence in the record.*fn29

  B. Deliberate Indifference to Medical Needs

  The Supreme Court has held that under the Eighth Amendment, the government has an "obligation to provide medical care for those whom it is punishing by incarceration."*fn30 Therefore, "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners" is both proscribed by the Eighth Amendment and creates a cognizable claim under section 1983.*fn31 "The standard of deliberate indifference includes both subjective and objective components."*fn32 First, the government action must be "`sufficiently serious'" to an objective observer.*fn33 Second, the government official "`must act with a subjectively culpable state of mind.'"*fn34 Central to an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim is that the prisoner must be in the custody of the government actor who committed the alleged violation.*fn35


  The relevant issue in this case concerns the identity of the officers who had custody of Melendez at the time of his injuries. Melendez claims that NYCDOC Officers, namely Simmonds and Cruse, are responsible for his injuries and the delay in his medical treatment.*fn36 However, defendants have submitted evidence demonstrating that Melendez was not in the custody of NYCDOC at the time of the incident. Specifically, defendants have proffered Melendez's Movement Form, which shows that Melendez was first admitted into NYCDOC custody at 10:26 p.m. on the day of the incident, over seven hours after his injuries occurred.*fn37 Additionally, Melendez himself admits that a Bronx Supreme Court officer accompanied him to the hospital,*fn38 and that upon returning from the hospital, he was transferred into NYCDOC custody at the Bronx Criminal Court.*fn39 This evidence supports the conclusion that although Melendez was on his way to the NYCDOC admission area when his injuries occurred, he was still in the custody of the Bronx Supreme Court at the time of the incident. Accordingly, at the time Melendez sustained his injuries, Bronx Supreme Court officers were responsible for his care. Because defendants have demonstrated that Simmonds and Cruse were not responsible for Melendez's injuries, defendants have met their burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact for trial.

  In contrast, Melendez has provided no evidence to support his contention that he was in the custody of NYCDOC officers at the time of his injuries. Although his complaint refers to Simmonds as the officer who forced him to stand up and walk when he felt dizzy,*fn40 this conclusory statement is the extent of his evidence against Simmonds. Similarly, Melendez initially fails to state Cruse's role in the incident,*fn41 and later simply alleges that Cruse had a brief argument with a Bronx Supreme Court officer about who should take responsibility for Melendez.*fn42 Melendez's statements about Simmonds and Cruse, devoid of any additional evidence, do not demonstrate that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Accordingly, defendants are entitled to summary judgment.


  For the foregoing reasons, defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted. The Clerk of the Court is directed to close this motion [docket # 19] and this case.


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