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Zimmerman v. Burge

April 20, 2009

NICHOLAS ZIMMERMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN W. BURGE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: George H. Lowe, United States Magistrate Judge

REPORT-RECOMMENDATION

This pro se prisoner civil rights action, commenced pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, has been referred to me for Report and Recommendation by the Honorable Gary L. Sharpe, United States District Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 72.3(c). Plaintiff Nicholas Zimmerman alleges that Defendants Joe Wolczyk, Donald Selsky, Captain Rourke, Harold Graham, and Thomas Eagen*fn1 violated his Eighth Amendment rights by sentencing him to ten years of solitary confinement in the Special Housing Unit ("SHU") and refusing to allow him to participate in the Intermediate Care Program*fn2. Currently pending before the Court is Defendants' partial motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. (Dkt. No. 42.) Defendants seek dismissal of (1) Plaintiff's claims against Defendants in their official capacities; and (2) Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment medical care claim. Defendants do not seek dismissal of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim regarding his ten-year SHU confinement. For the reasons that follow, I recommend that Defendants' motion be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Summary of Plaintiff's Complaint

Plaintiff's complaint is quite cursory. Regarding his Eighth Amendment medical care claim, Plaintiff alleges that:

On October 25, 2005, Defendant[ ] Captain Rourke violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights to adequate medical care by refusing to allow Plaintiff to seek mental health by participating in the Intermediate Care Program.

On November 10, 2005, Defendant Superintendent Graham violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights to adequate medical care by affirming Captain Rourke's decision to deny Plaintiff's admittance to the Intermediate Care Program.

On December 14, 2005, Defendant Thomas Eagen violated Plaintiff's rights to adequate medical care by affirming Superintendent Graham's decision to deny Plaintiff's admittance to the Intermediate Care Program. (Dkt. No. 1 at 5, ¶¶ 16-18.)

Plaintiff sues Defendants "in their individual capacities and in their official capacities as officials of the New York State Department of Corrections." (Dkt. No. 1 at 2.)

In his prayer for relief Plaintiff requests (1) a declaration that Defendants violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights; (2) an injunction requiring Defendants to place Plaintiff in the Intermediate Care Program; (3) the reversal and expungement or reduction of Plaintiff's ten-year SHU sentence; (4) $1 million in compensatory damages; (5) $200,000 in punitive damages from each Defendant; and (6) costs and attorney fees. (Dkt. No. 1 at 8.)

B. Summary of Grounds in Support of Defendants' Motion

Defendants argue that (1) the Eleventh Amendment bars Plaintiff's claims against Defendants in their official capacities; (2) Plaintiff does not allege sufficient personal involvement on the part of Defendants Rourke, Graham, or Eagen; (3) Plaintiff cannot prevail on his Eighth Amendment medical care claim because Defendants were not deliberately indifferent to a serious medical need; and (4) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. (Dkt. No. 42-4.)

C. Summary of Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Arguments

In response, Plaintiff argues that (1) even if the Eleventh Amendment bars his claims against Defendant in their official capacities, he has also sued them in their individual capacities; (2) Defendants were personally involved because they failed to remedy a wrong after learning of it; (3) Plaintiff suffered from depression and suicidal tendencies and Defendants' refusal to allow him to participate in the Intermediate Care Program constituted deliberate indifference; and (4) Defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity. (Dkt. No. 43.)

II. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Legal Standard Governing Motions for ...


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