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Jones v. Furman

March 21, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Leslie G. Foschio United States Magistrate Judge



On May 7, 2003, the parties to this action consented pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) to proceed before the undersigned. The matter is presently before the court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 58), filed February 18, 2005.


Plaintiff Eugene Jones ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, commenced this civil rights action on December 27, 2002, alleging that while incarcerated at Southport Correctional Facility ("Southport"), Defendants Sergeant Furman ("Sgt. Furman"), C.O. Carpenter*fn1 ("Carpenter"), C.O. Bly ("Bly"), C.O. Losito ("Losito"), C.O. John Does 1 through 4 and Nurse Jane Doe (together, "the Doe Defendants"), and Nurse J. Brink ("Brink"), subjected Plaintiff to excessive force, cruel and unusual punishment and acted with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. On March 27, 2003, an answer was filed by Defendants Sgt. Furman, Carpenter, Bly, Losito and Brink. On October 21, 2003, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 21) ("Amended Complaint"), asserting essentially the same claims against the original named Defendants, and naming new Defendants, including C.O. Lanasa ("Lanasa"), C.O. R. Murphy ("Murphy"), and Nurse D. Hersh ("Hersh") in place of the Doe Defendants. Answers to the Amended Complaint were filed on November 13, 2003, by Defendants Sgt. Furman, Bly, Brink, Carpenter, and Losito (Doc. No. 22), and on October 14, 2004, by Defendants Hersh, LaNasa and Murphy (Doc. No. 49).

On February 18, 2005, Defendant filed the instant motion seeking summary judgment ("Defendants' motion"). Defendants also filed, on February 18, 2005, papers in support of the motion a Memorandum of Law (Doc. No. 59) ("Defendants' Memorandum"), a Statement of Facts Not in Dispute (Doc. No. 60) (Defendants' Statement of Facts"), and the Declarations of Defendants Brink (Doc. No. 61) ("Brink Declaration"), Furman (Doc. No. 62) ("Furman Declaration"), Lanasa (Doc. No. 63) ("Lanasa Declaration"), Murphy (Doc. No. 64) ("Murphy Declaration"), Hersh, a/k/a Weed (Doc. No. 65) ("Weed Declaration"), Carpenter (Doc. No. 66) ("Carpenter Declaration"), Bly (Doc. No. 67) ("Bly Declaration"), and Losito (Doc. No. 68) ("Losito Declaration").

In opposition to summary judgment, Plaintiff filed on June 8, 2005, a Memorandum of Law (Doc. No. 72) ("Plaintiff's Memorandum"), a Statement of Disputed Factual Issues and Questions (Doc. No. 73) ("Plaintiff's Statement of Facts"), and the Declaration of Plaintiff (Doc. No. 74) ("Plaintiff's Declaration"), attached to which are exhibits A though X ("Plaintiff's Exh(s). ___"). In further support of summary judgment, Defendants filed on June 16, 2005 the Reply Declaration of Assistant Attorney General Stephen F. Gawlik ("Gawlik") (Doc. No. 75) ("Gawlik Declaration"). Oral argument was deemed unnecessary.

Based on the following, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.


Plaintiff's claims are based on separate incidents occurring on April 26, 2002 and June 4, 2002. Because Plaintiff's and Defendants' versions of the events concerning each incident vary greatly, and are critical to resolution of Defendants' motion, the court describes both.

The April 26, 2002 Incident

Plaintiff alleges that while incarcerated at the Southport Correctional Facility ("Southport"), on April 26, 2002, Defendants Sgt. Furman, and Corrections Officers Bly, Carpenter, and Lanasa, subjected Plaintiff to excessive force by engaging in an unprovoked physical attack on Plaintiff, and that following the attack, Defendants Thurman, Bly, Carpender, Lanasa and Nurse Brink ("Brink") acted with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's medical needs by failing to treat Plaintiff for injuries allegedly sustained as a result of the attack. First Claim for Relief, Amended Complaint at 4. According to Plaintiff, on the morning of April 26, 2002, Plaintiff was released from his prison cell to attend recreation, and Sgt. Furman proceeded to pat-frisk Plaintiff, and remarked that Plaintiff "like[d] to write, huh? Well, we are going to give you something to write about." Id. Plaintiff maintains that after the pat-frisk concluded, Plaintiff "was directed back on to the company," and when Plaintiff reached the "shower area" he was struck on the right side of his head by Sgt. Furman, causing Plaintiff to fall to the floor, where Defendants Furman, Bly, Carpenter and Lanasa kicked, punched and jabbed at Plaintiff with batons. Id. According to Plaintiff, he was handcuffed and restrained with a wrist chain during the incident. Id.

According to Plaintiff, after the incident, Defendants Bly and Carpenter dragged Plaintiff to his cell and placed him inside. Amended Complaint at 4. Plaintiff requested that his injuries, including a sore and painful right ear, lumps behind his right ear and on the back of his head, small cuts on his nose and hand, and bruising on his ribs, back, and legs, be treated, but Sgt. Furman responded "Yeah, right!," and no treatment was provided at that time. Id.

Later, while Defendant Losito was on rounds, Plaintiff described his injuries to Losito and requested to see the nurse. Amended Complaint at 4. Losito responded that "the nurse will be around with medication and as long as you['re] still breathing [it's] not a[n] emergency." Id. Plaintiff never saw the nurse on April 26, 2002. Id. Rather, on April 27 or 28, 2002, Plaintiff informed Defendant Nurse Brink of his injuries and blood in his urine while Brink was distributing medications to the inmates. Id. at 5. Plaintiff maintains Brink did not believe Plaintiff and, instead, responded by calling Plaintiff a "trouble maker and liar." Id.

Defendants deny any force was used against Plaintiff on April 26, 2002. Rather, Defendants maintain that Plaintiff, during his daily exercise run on April 26, 2002, refused to comply with exercise procedures by repeatedly turning his head while undergoing a pat-frisk. As a result, Sgt. Furman ordered Plaintiff to stop turning his head and warned that Plaintiff's continued refusal to comply with proper exercise procedures would constitute an exercise refusal necessitating Plaintiff's return to his cell. Because Plaintiff continued to turn his head, he was placed in restraints and escorted back to his cell where the restraints were removed without incident.

According to Defendants, Plaintiff was seen by Nurse Brink on April 28, 2002 during Brink's regular rounds. Brink maintains that at that time, Plaintiff complained that since the previous evening, he had been passing blood in his urine, but made no other complaints and exhibited no other signs or symptoms, and there was no indication that Plaintiff suffered from any serious ailment requiring immediate attention. Brink Declaration ¶ 4. Brink advised Plaintiff to increase his fluids intake and report any change in signs or symptoms, and also requested a urinalysis be ordered. Id. The urinalysis order was approved by Southport Medical Director Dr. Alves. and, on April 30, 2002, Plaintiff's urine sample was collected for urinalysis which showed blood, bacteria and increased white blood cell count indicative of a mild urinary tract infection ("UTI"). Id. ¶¶ 4-5. Follow-up urinalysis on samples collected from Plaintiff on May 7 and 13, 2002 established that by May 13, 2002, Plaintiff's urine was normal. Id. ¶ 6.

On April 30, 2002, Plaintiff was seen by Nurse Peters*fn3 in connection with complaints of problems with his right ear. Upon examination, Nurse Peters observed no bruising or swelling and scheduled an ear examination.

When Nurse Brink next saw Plaintiff on May 1, 2002, Plaintiff complained that he was unable to hear out of his right ear. Brink found no outward sign of injury and discussed the matter with staff from Southport's mental health unit, advising of Plaintiff's recent allegations of paranoia. Brink noted in Plaintiff's medical chart that Plaintiff would sporadically refuse his morning psychiatric medications and that an ear examination was pending.

On May 2, 2002, Nurse Brink, at the request of Southport's security staff, examined Plaintiff in connection with Plaintiff's complaint that he had recently been the subject of an excessive use of force, which revealed a mark on Plaintiff's nose, a right swollen ear, a bump on the back of Plaintiff's head, a sore right rib, bilateral flank soreness, and a mark between Plaintiff's fourth and fifth left fingers. Upon a complete physical examination of Plaintiff in his underwear, Nurse Brink observed only a 3 cm superficial abrasion on Plaintiff's nose, and a 2 cm superficial abrasion on Plaintiff's knuckle. Otherwise, Plaintiff had no swelling or trauma about his ears, his ear canals were healthy, there were no bumps or bruising on Plaintiff's head, his lungs were clear, Plaintiff ambulated without difficulty and had full range of motion in all extremities, digits were normal, all skin was intact, and Plaintiff required no medication.

The June 4, 2002 Incident

As to the incident Plaintiff claims occurred on June 4, 2002, Plaintiff alleges Sgt. Furman advised that Plaintiff was being moved from C-Block, 2-Company, 6-Cell to C-Block, 1-Company, 15-Cell, and while escorting Plaintiff to the new cell, remarked that such cell "was technically our of order, but that was where [Plaintiff] was being placed." Second Claim for Relief, Amended Complaint at 6. Plaintiff describes his new cell as "not in living condition," as the toilet did not flush, the sink's cold water did not work, although the hot water was on and would not stop running, the cell's floor was covered with water and grime, and the cell mattress was wet with water or urine. Id. Plaintiff maintains that upon informing Furman of the cell's conditions, Furman ignored Plaintiff and walked away. Id.

According to Plaintiff, later that day, Defendant Murphy dropped two of Plaintiff's books into Plaintiff's cell. Amended Complaint at 6. When Plaintiff asked about his other personal property, including legal materials, bed sheets, letters, photographs, and other items, Murphy "just walked away." Id. Plaintiff also maintains that Murphy failed to provide Plaintiff with lunch, and when Plaintiff complained to Sgt. Furman about not receiving his luncheon meal, Furman acted as though he could not hear Plaintiff and walked away. Id.

Plaintiff asserts that the stress Defendants caused Plaintiff on June 4, 2002, "gave me a mental breakdown," such that after dinner, Plaintiff ate and smeared feces on his body, face and around his cell. Amended Complaint at 6-7. Plaintiff further maintains he slashed his wrist and forearm with a medication tube and that when he showed such wounds to Defendant Losito and requested help, Losito did nothing. Id. at 7. Defendants Losito and Nurse Hersh later stopped by Plaintiff's cell and, upon observing the blood and feces smeared on Plaintiff and around the cell, as well as the slash marks on Plaintiff's arms for which Plaintiff again requested help, Losito and Hersh laughed and Hersh stated "You want to kill yourself? Use your socks and hang yourself from the bars," and then walked away. Id.

On June 5, 2002, at 7:10 A.M., Nurse Peters stopped by Plaintiff's cell and advised that she was going to get Plaintiff some help. At 9:15 A.M. on June 5, 2002, two unidentified corrections officers and a sergeant removed Plaintiff, who was covered in feces and crying uncontrollably, from the cell and escorted to the infirmary. Plaintiff was never returned to the cell where the alleged actions on June 4th and 5th took place.

Defendants maintain that when Sgt. Furman placed Plaintiff in the new cell on June 4, 2002, Plaintiff did not inform Furman of any ...

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