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Johnson v. Snow

May 27, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary L. Sharpe U.S. District Judge


I. Introduction

Plaintiff pro se ("Johnson") brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges that the defendants violated his constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment by verbally and physically assaulting him, and subsequently denying him adequate medical care for injuries he sustained in that assault.*fn1 (See Compl. ¶ 1, Dkt. No. 1) Presently pending is defendants' renewed motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 48) seeking dismissal of defendants Khan, Miller and Snow as parties to this action. For the reasons that follow the motion is granted.

II. Facts*fn2

Johnson claims that on November 21, 2002, he was beaten by defendant Corrections Officers Conners and Hardin, who are not subject to this motion, while he was a prisoner at Clinton Correctional Facility ("Clinton"). (See Compl. ¶¶ 3-9, Dkt. No. 1)

Following this incident Johnson was escorted to the medical unit with Sergeant Snow as the supervising escort officer. (Pl. SMF ¶ 2, Dkt. No. 51:1) Johnson alleges that, upon arrival, he was suffering from pain in his right leg, his left ring finger and hand, which he could not close, and had swelling in his hand and face.*fn3 Id. at ¶ 4. At the facility, defendant Khan, who is a registered nurse, examined Johnson. Id. It is contended that this examination was inadequate, in that Khan did not provide Johnson with a finger splint, physically touch him during the exam, or order a follow up exam or X-ray. Id. at ¶¶ 4, 5. Instead Khan provided Johnson with ibuprofen, and told him to rest his left hand and right leg. Id. at ¶ 5. Two subsequent examinations by Khan were also allegedly inadequate for unspecified reasons. Id. at ¶ 6.

After Khan's initial examination, Johnson was brought to the Segregated Housing Unit ("SHU"). Id. at ¶ 7. On November 22, 2002, Nurse Practitioner Miller visually examined Johnson's hand as part of her SHU rounds. Id. Apparently, Johnson would not let her touch the hand because of the pain. Id. Johnson contends that, despite visible swelling and bruising around the ring and middle finger of his left hand and complaints of pain, Miller ignored his requests for a splint or X-ray.*fn4 Id. at ¶¶ 7, 8. Rather, she prescribed him three doses of Motrin a day over the course of a week. Id. at 8. She also allegedly stated "relax, when you assault officers you have to expect a little pain and [swelling]." Id. at ¶ 8.

Miller next saw Johnson on December 3, 2002. Id. at ¶ 9. At that time Johnson reiterated his request for an X-ray of his left ring finger. Id. Miller indicated that she would check with the radiology technician. (Def. SMF ¶ 9, Dkt. No. 48:2) After Johnson requested an X-ray again the next day, Miller spoke with the radiology technician, who indicated that he would arrange an X-ray appointment. Id. at ¶ 10. On December 16, 2002, Johnson was transferred out of Clinton to Upstate Correctional Facility ("Upstate"), apparently without having received an X-ray. (Pl. SMF ¶ 11, Dkt. No. 51:1) Once at Upstate, Johnson underwent an X-ray which revealed small chip fractures in his left hand. (See Compl. ¶ 43 and attached Ex., Dkt. No. 1) Johnson alleges that because of the delay in receiving adequate medical care, he now has approximately 95% movement in his left hand. Id. at ¶ 44.

III. Procedural History

On June 3, 2004, Johnson brought this action against Sergeant Snow, Lynne Khan and Sheryl Miller, among others. (See Compl. Dkt. No. 1) His complaint asserted claims for, inter alia, denial of medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Id. On February 17, 2006, the State moved for summary judgment, seeking dismissal of the claims against certain defendants. (Dkt. No. 27) The motion was referred to Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles for report and recommendation. Judge Peebles recommended that the State's motion be denied as to Snow, Khan and Miller. (Dkt. No. 31) After the parties filed their objections, the court adopted the report recommendation in part and denied it in part. (Dkt. No. 42) As relevant here, the court dismissed all claims against defendants Khan, Miller and Snow, other than those for denial of medical care.*fn5 Id.

However, as per the court's order, the State was permitted to file a renewed motion for summary judgment as to defendant Snow. Id. Thereafter, on December 17, 2007, the State additionally sought leave to renew its motion for summary judgment as to defendants Khan and Miller, which the court granted. (Dkt. Nos. 44, 45)

IV. Standard of Review

The summary judgment standard is well-established, and will not be repeated here. For a full discussion, the court refers the parties to its opinion in Bain v. Town of ...

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