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Cruz v. Lashway

June 18, 2009

HERMAN CRUZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AMBER LASHWAY, PHYSICIAN'S ASSISTANT, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

Currently before the Court in this pro se prisoner civil rights action are (1) Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 56), (2) United States Magistrate Judge Randolph F. Treece's Report-Recommendation that Defendant's motion be granted (Dkt. No. 69), and (3) Plaintiff's Objection to the Report-Recommendation (Dkt. No. 70). For the reasons set forth below, the Report-Recommendation is accepted and adopted in its entirety; Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted; and Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed in its entirety.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

On July 17, 2006, Herman Cruz ("Plaintiff") filed his Complaint in this action. (Dkt. No. 1.) Construed with the utmost of special leniency, Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that, while Amber Lashway ("Defendant") was a registered nurse at Upstate Correctional Facility and then a physician's assistant at Clinton Correctional Facility, she violated Plaintiff's rights under the First and Eighth Amendments by being deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs and retaliating against him for filing complaints (specifically, his filing two grievances against her at Clinton Correctional Facility, and a federal lawsuit against several employees at Upstate Correctional Facility). (Id. at ¶¶ 6, 7.)

On May 30, 2008, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 56.) In her motion, Defendant argues that Plaintiff has failed to adduce admissible record evidence that would create a genuine issue of material fact with regard to his First and Eighth Amendment claims, and that Defendant is protected from liability as a matter of law by the doctrine of qualified immunity. (Dkt. No. 56, Part 20, at 2-14.) Defendant's motion includes a detailed notice of the consequences of failing to respond to her motion. (Dkt. No. 56, Part 1.)

Despite this notice, on June 11, 2008, Plaintiff filed a response to the motion for summary judgment that fails to admit or deny Defendants' factual assertions (in her Statement of Material Facts) in matching numbered paragraphs as required by Local Rule 7.1(a)(3). (Dkt. No. 58.) Instead, Plaintiff argues, for the most part, that Defendant's motion should be denied because she failed to respond to various discovery demands. (Id.)

On June 23, 2008, Defendant filed a reply to Plaintiff's response. (Dkt. No. 61.) In her reply, Defendant argues that her motion should be granted because Plaintiff has failed to dispute Defendant's statements of material fact, and that (in any event) any deficiency in her discovery responses was unintentional and immaterial in nature. (Dkt. No. 61, Part 1, ¶¶ 2-5; Dkt. No. 61, Part 2, at 2-4.)

On March 13, 2009, Magistrate Judge Treece issued a Report-Recommendation on Defendant's motion. (Dkt. No. 69.) Generally, Magistrate Judge Treece found that Defendant's factual assertions were deemed "admitted" by Plaintiff pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(a)(3) and that, based on those undisputed material facts, no triable issue of material fact exists with regard to Plaintiff's First and Eighth Amendment claims. (Id.) Familiarity with the particular findings of fact and conclusions of law stated Magistrate Judge Treece's Report-Recommendation are assumed in this Decision and Order.

On March 26, 2009, Plaintiff filed his Objections to the Report-Recommendation. (Dkt. No. 70.) Generally, in his Objections, Plaintiff argues that Magistrate Judge Treece "ignored" discovery violations committed by defense counsel, which demonstrated a "pre-disposition in his heart" regarding Defendant's motion, and which prevented Plaintiff from being able to create a genuine issue of material fact regarding his claims. (Dkt. No. 70, Part 1.)

II. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Standard of Review

When specific objections are made to a magistrate judge's report-recommendation, the Court makes a "de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).*fn1

When only general objections are made to a magistrate judge's report-recommendation, the Court reviews the report-recommendation for clear error or manifest injustice. See Brown v. Peters, 95-CV-1641, 1997 WL 599355, at *2-3 (N.D.N.Y. Sept. 22, 1997) (Pooler, J.) [collecting cases], aff'd without opinion, 175 F.3d 1007 (2d Cir. 1999).*fn2 Similarly, when a party makes no objection to a portion of a report-recommendation, the Court reviews that portion for clear error or manifest injustice. See Batista v. Walker, 94-CV-2826, 1995 WL 453299, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 31, 1995) (Sotomayor, J.) [citations omitted]; Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b), Advisory Committee Notes: 1983 Addition [citations omitted]. After conducing ...


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