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Blaylock v. Borden

April 18, 2008


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


In this prisoner civil rights case, pro se plaintiff Michael Blaylock alleges that defendants Barry Borden, John Swanson, John Supple, and Jane Doe -- all employees of the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS") -- deprived him of his constitutional rights by failing to protect him from an attack by another inmate, acting with deliberate indifference to his medical needs, and causing him to be wrongfully disciplined.

Defendants move for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted.


A. Facts

The facts are drawn from the complaint,*fn1 affirmations, exhibits, and plaintiff's deposition testimony. For purposes of this motion, the facts are construed in the light most favorable to plaintiff as the party opposing summary judgment, and conflicts in the evidence have been resolved in his favor.

Plaintiff was incarcerated in Housing Unit 21, also known as the "Honor Unit," at Fishkill Correctional Facility ("Fishkill"). (Compl. ¶ 8; Borden Affirm. ¶ 2; Blaylock Dep. 24:10-25:5). On the evening of February 4, 2005, plaintiff had an argument with inmate Omar Douglas over the volume of the television in the Honor Unit's recreation room. (Blaylock 1).*fn2

Following the argument, plaintiff left the recreation room and returned to his cell. (Id.; Swanson Affirm. ¶ 5). Shortly thereafter, Douglas retrieved a seventeen-inch metal pipe from the recreation room's gym area and proceeded to walk towards plaintiff's cell. (Blaylock 1; Swanson Affirm. ¶ 5).

En route, Douglas passed Officer Barry Borden, then seated at his desk approximately twenty-five feet from plaintiff's cell. (Compl. ¶ 9; Borden Affirm. ¶ 3). At the time, Borden was updating the "log book" and did not stop Douglas or make any attempt to prevent him from reaching plaintiff's cell. (Compl. ¶¶ 10, 26; Borden Affirm. ¶ 3). Plaintiff was standing outside his cell door and "eased back" into his room when he noticed Douglas down the hallway. (Blaylock Dep. 77:13-24). Douglas entered plaintiff's cell, whereupon he began swinging the pipe, striking plaintiff in the back of the head, upper back, and right hand. (Compl. ¶ 11; Borden Affirm. ¶ 4; Blaylock Dep. 81:9-17). Plaintiff attempted to fend off the attack with his hand and, after suffering repeated blows, grabbed Douglas and threw him to the floor. (Compl. ¶ 11; Blaylock Dep. 81:9-82:4).

Alerted by the noise, Officer Borden approached the cell and ordered both men to cease fighting and place their hands on the wall. (Compl. ¶ 12; Borden Affirm. ¶ 4). He did not attempt to physically intervene, but instead activated his radio alarm to request officer assistance. (Comp1. ¶ 12; Borden Affirm. ¶ 4; Blaylock 1). After several orders to stop, the inmates complied and placed their hands on the wall. (Compl. ¶ 13; Borden Affirm. ¶ 4; Blaylock 1).

Moments later, Sergeant John Swanson arrived, accompanied by approximately four other officers. (Compl. ¶ 13; Swanson Affirm. ¶ 3). The officers placed both inmates in handcuffs and escorted plaintiff to the infirmary where he was examined by defendant Jane Doe. (Compl. ¶¶ 13-14; Blaylock 1). The examination records specify that plaintiff suffered a swollen lump and a one and a half inch scratch at the back of his head with "scant" bleeding. (Blaylock 298). Plaintiff was given an ice pack but no x-rays were taken at the time. (Compl. ¶ 15; Blaylock 298).

The day after the altercation, Borden served plaintiff with a misbehavior report charging him with violating DOCS rules 106.10 (failure to follow a direct order); 100.13 (fighting); and 104.13 (creating a disturbance). (Compl. ¶ 16; Borden Affirm. ¶ 7; Blaylock 10). A disciplinary hearing was held on February 8, 2005; Blaylock was the only person to testify -- neither Borden nor Swanson was called as a witness. (Blaylock 41; Borden Affirm. ¶ 7; Blaylock Dep. 140:4-9). At the conclusion of the hearing, the charges were sustained and plaintiff was placed in solitary confinement in the Special Housing Unit (the "SHU") for thirty days. (Compl. ¶ 19; Blaylock 41).

In early March, plaintiff was examined by Dr. John Supple, at which time he complained of pain in the third finger of his right hand. (Compl. ¶ 20; Supple Affirm. ¶ 2; Blaylock 298). Supple gave plaintiff Ibuprofen and, at plaintiff's request, ordered that x-rays be taken of plaintiff's hand. (Compl. ¶ 20; Supple Affirm. ¶ 3; Blaylock 78). Dr. Robert Mueller took the x-rays on March 18 and determined that plaintiff had suffered "no fracture, dislocation or arthritic change, only soft issue swelling." (Supple Affirm. ¶ 3; Blaylock 78).

At some time prior to August 5, 2005, plaintiff appealed the disciplinary ruling against him. (Compl. ¶ 18). On August 5, the ruling was reversed and ordered expunged from the record.*fn3 (Id.; Blaylock 34). By that point, however, plaintiff had already completed his thirty days of solitary confinement. (Compl. ¶ 19).

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff commenced this action on June 12, 2006, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendants had violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to prevent the assault against him (first count),*fn4 failing to arrange prompt x-rays of his injured hand (second count), and causing him to be wrongfully disciplined (fourth count). He also asserted a state law claim, alleging that defendants violated New York Correction Law § 137 by failing to provide him with a safe and secure environment (third count). He requested both compensatory and punitive damages.

Defendants moved to dismiss plaintiff's state law claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. On February 14, 2007, the Court granted defendants' motion and dismissed the state law claim. Blaylock v. Borden, No. 06 Civ. 4387 (DC), 2007 WL 486598 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 14, 2007). The parties thereafter engaged in discovery. This motion for summary judgment followed.


A. ...

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