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Johnson v. Smith

August 27, 2008

BERNARD JOHNSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT J.T. SMITH DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lyle E. Strom, Senior Judge United States District Court

MEMORANDUM OPINION

INTRODUCTION

This matter came before the Court for trial on August 18, 2008. At the close of all the evidence both parties rested, moved for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(a), and presented closing arguments. The Court, having taken the motions under advisement, has considered the evidence, the briefs and arguments of counsel, and the applicable law, and will deny all pending motions and enters the following findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 52(a).

JURISDICTION

This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. The following relevant facts have been stipulated to by the parties (See Joint Ex. 1) and are not in dispute:

a. Joseph T. Smith is employed by the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS") and has been so employed since 1983. He holds the position of Superintendent of Shawangunk Correctional Facility ("Shawangunk"). He has held that position since October 2002.

b. After starting as Superintendent of Shawangunk in October 2002, Smith came to learn that there were defects in certain areas of the gym floor where bubbles had formed in the vinyl overlay to the cement base. During this same time period, Smith also learned that prior to his appointment as Superintendent of Shawangunk, John Ewanciw had requested funding from the DOCS Office of Facilities Planning to replace the entire gym floor.

c. John Ewanciw was employed by the DOCS until 2007. He held the position of Plant Superintendent at Shawangunk from 1994 to 2007. For a period of time prior to 1994 he was Acting Plant Superintendent. He no longer works for DOCS and is currently employed by the New York State Office of Mental Health.

d. Since Shawangunk opened in 1985, several repair attempts were made to the vinyl overlay to the cement base of the gym floor. These repair attempts were made by outside contractors. The gym floor was originally made of cement with a vinyl overlay. Over time, this vinyl overlay developed "bubbles." Despite various attempts to fix the bubbling condition of the floor, the problem recurred to varying degrees after each attempted repair.

e. Sometime in 1992, it became apparent that there was a need to replace the gym floor in its entirety as the prior repairs did not resolve the problem. As a result, Mr. Ewanciw began requesting funding for that purpose from DOCS Office of Facilities Planning in 1992.

f. In or around January 2003, Mr. Smith was made personally aware of two separate incidents where an inmate sustained injury while playing basketball in the gym.

g. On January 29, 2003, Bernard Johnson was playing basketball in the gym at Shawangunk ...


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