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Williams v. DePerio

March 17, 2006

FREDERICK L. WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOSE DEPERIO, ET AL, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles J. Siragusa United States District Judge

DECISION & ORDER

INTRODUCTION

This is an action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, brought by plaintiff acting pro se, in which he contends that defendants violated his rights as guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment*fn1 to the U.S. Constitution. Now before the Court is defendants' motion (# 24) for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons that follow, the application is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges in his complaint that defendants failed to adequately protect him from an assault by another inmate, and that, after the assault, they failed to provide for his serious medical needs. The following facts are undisputed, except as indicated.*fn2

Plaintiff was an inmate at the Wende Correctional Facility, located in Alden, New York, and resided in that facility's Protective Custody Unit. On August 24, 1998, plaintiff was eating dinner in a locked room with approximately six other inmates, one of whom was Garcia.*fn3 One or two corrections officers were near the door to the room. Garcia and plaintiff had no history of problems with each other, and plaintiff testified at a pretrial deposition that he did not expect any fight with Garcia. Prior to dinner, Garcia had asked plaintiff for a cigarette while the two were still in the cell block. A few minutes later, both went to the day room where they ate dinner. As plaintiff put it, they exchanged words, then Garcia swung at plaintiff, and they began fighting. According to plaintiff, Garcia pulled out a shank from his pocket and cut him above his right eye. Nonetheless, they continued to fight and, as plaintiff described in his deposition, "somehow while we [sic] tangled up -- while tangled up he stuck me in the back of the neck." (Williams Dep. at 24.) Defendants do not dispute these events. However, they do dispute plaintiff's characterization and description of how Correction Officers Thomas and Russo reacted. Plaintiff testified at his deposition in pertinent part as follows:

Q: Within seconds after the fight started you got hit in the neck?

A: Well, yeah. Thomas was at the door..

Q: Alone?

A: Yeah. But Roosevelt had stand [sic] there when the fight first started because the door [sic] only about so big (indicates). They got [sic] a desk, sit outside the door so like if a fight [sic] going on, once the motion get [sic] started as soon as the motion get [sic] started you hear sneakers squeaking on the floor and once you hear the motion, that's the wrap. They knew what was going on. (Williams Dep. at 27-28.) Defendants assert that Correction Officer Thomas was working behind the closed door to the day room and summoned help. Plaintiff contends, however, that he and others were calling for correction officers to open the closed door to the day room. In that regard, plaintiff stated at the deposition,

A: I wasn't the only one calling to open the door. The other dude in there [was] saying open the door. Two other dudes like Bolton and -- would tell them to open the door, open the door and I got hit in the neck. I'm calling "Thomas, open the door, open the door" and he's smiling like it's funny, man..

Q: And the COs during the fight. You knew two were at the door. They were saying things also?

A: Fight, fight, fight, fight. I said you can hear the commotion. Thomas got [sic] a smile on his face; fight, fight, fight. You could hear Thomas. "Williams, Williams. Get him, Williams, get him, Williams." At that time you could tell there was more or less [sic] Thomas the one that didn't open the door than [sic] Russo.

Q: How do you know that?

A: You can see on your [sic] face. Russo was the one -- you could tell the way Russo was looking at Thomas, like open the door and you could see the motions. By now we [were] just holding each other. We ain't [sic] moving too much. Because I got stabbed.

Q: Where is the knife?

A: You could see it's more Thomas than Russo. Thomas got [sic] this like -- like you be [sic] fucked, you know. Excuse my language but --

Q: Was there an alarm?

A: One pulled the pin later after they ...


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