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Williams v. Broome County

December 17, 2009

KITWANA WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BROOME COUNTY; DAVID HARDER; ROBERT IRWIN; MAHMOOD BUTT; MICHELE PARSONS; AND CORRECTIONAL MEDICAL CARE, INC., DEFENDANTS.



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 prisoner civil rights action, filed by Kitwana Williams ("Plaintiff") against Broome County, David Harder, Robert Irwin, Mahmood Butt, Correctional Medical Care, Inc., and Michele Parsons ("Defendants"), are the following six motions: (1) a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Broome County, David Harder, and Robert Irwin (Dkt. No. 35); (2) these same three Defendants' motion to preclude Plaintiff from introducing his expert's report in opposition to Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 26); (3) a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Butt (Dkt. No. 33); (4) Defendant Butt's motion to preclude Plaintiff from introducing his expert's report in opposition to Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 27); (5) a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Correctional Medical Care, Inc., and Michele Parsons (Dkt. No. 32); and (6) these same two Defendants' motion to preclude Plaintiff from introducing his expert's report in opposition to Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 25). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motions for summary judgment regarding Plaintiff's civil rights claims arising under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 are granted, Plaintiff's pendent state common law claims are dismissed without prejudice (due to the Court's decision to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over those pendent state law claims), and Defendants' motions to preclude Plaintiff from introducing his expert's report are denied as moot.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Claims

Generally, liberally construed, Plaintiff's Complaint claims that, between approximately March 9, 2006, and July 2006, at Broome County Correctional Facility ("BCCF") in Binghamton, New York, Defendants committed the following acts in violation of Plaintiff's rights: (1) they retaliated against him in violation of the First Amendment; (2) they were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment; (3) they deprived him of due process in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments; and (4) they conspired against him in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985. (See generally Dkt. No. 1 [Plf.'s Compl.].) Plaintiff also asserts New York State common law claims of negligence and gross negligence against all Defendants, and a medical malpractice claim against Defendants Correctional Medical Care, Inc., Butt and Parsons. (Id.) Familiarity with the factual allegations supporting these claims in Plaintiff's Complaint is assumed in this Decision and Order, which is intended primarily for review by the parties. (Id.)

B. Undisputed Material Facts

The following material facts are undisputed by the parties. (Compare Dkt. No. 32, Part 18 [Def.'s Rule 7.1 Statement], and Dkt. No. 33, Part 2 [Def.'s Rule 7.1 Statement], and Dkt. No. 35, Part 28 [Def.'s Rule 7.1 Statement] with Dkt. No. 37, Parts 7, 8, 9 [Plf.'s Rule 7.1 Responses].)

Plaintiff is a 5'11"-tall, 260-pound man who was rendered a paraplegic in 1998. As a result of his paralysis, Plaintiff developed chronic incontinence of stool and urine, and required the use of a "Texas catheter" to void. On or about March 9, 2006, Plaintiff entered BCCF. Because Plaintiff's paraplegia makes his skin prone to "breakdown," at the time of his incarceration, Plaintiff was using a gel cushion, which rested on the seat of his motorized wheelchair. Upon entering BCCF, Plaintiff was given a medical evaluation and was found to have a three-centimeter decubitus ulcer on his buttock that was almost closed.

After the initial classification period, on March 13, 2006, Plaintiff was assigned to the Facility's "G-pod" housing unit because G-pod had a wheelchair ramp. On March 15, 2006, Plaintiff's cell was searched by rovers and a shift supervisor, on the suspicion that Plaintiff was in possession of contraband. During the search, a "BiC" lighter was recovered from inside his wheelchair cushion. Plaintiff was brought up on disciplinary charges, and ultimately plead guilty to possession of contraband, which is considered a violation.

On March 17, 2006, Officer James Jones drafted an Incident Report describing the unsafe and unsanitary conditions that Plaintiff was creating, through his poor hygiene, and explained that, because of Plaintiff's condition and the amount of care that he required, he would be better served by being housed in the medical unit of the Facility. On March 25, 2006, Officer Natalie Contro witnessed a cockroach crawling in and out of Plaintiff's wheelchair, and notified Central Control of the problem. Plaintiff was transferred out of the G-pod, and ultimately ended up in the medical unit where he remained until April 1, 2006.

On or about April 14, 2006, Plaintiff was once again confined to the medical unit. Plaintiff sought to re-enter G-pod. Defendant Irwin explained to Plaintiff that he could not leave the medical unit with his gel cushion for health and security reasons. Based on a desire to re-enter G-pod, Plaintiff agreed to allow Defendant Irwin to confiscate his gel cushion. Plaintiff was provided with a replacement cushion that same day. After re-entering G-pod with the replacement cushion, Plaintiff began experiencing skin complications. Plaintiff was ultimately given back his gel cushion, but not before he developed serious complications as a result of a pressure sore, which resulted in Plaintiff having to be admitted to Lourdes Hospital on May 4, 2006.

Familiarity with the remaining undisputed material facts of this action, as well as the disputed material facts, as set forth in the parties' Rule 7.1 Statements and Rule 7.1 Responses, is assumed in this Decision and Order, which (again) is intended primarily for review by the parties. (Id.)

C. Defendants' Motions

1. Defendants' Motion to Preclude Plaintiff From Introducing His Expert's Report

Generally, in support of their motion to preclude Plaintiff from introducing his expert's report, Defendants argue as follows: (1) on July 11, 2007, Magistrate Judge David R. Homer issued a Uniform Pre-Trial Scheduling Order that required, inter alia, that Plaintiff disclose the identity of his expert, along with his expert's report, no later than ninety days prior to the discovery deadline; (2) Defendants timely provided Plaintiff with their experts' reports and experts' disclosure statements; (3) Plaintiff did not disclose the identity of his expert, or provide Defendants' with a copy of his expert's report, until September 4, 2008, three days after the close of the discovery deadline; (4) Defendants did not have adequate time, between the date in which the expert's report was disclosed and the date in which dispositive motions were due, to properly depose Plaintiff's expert; and (5) to not strictly enforce the discovery deadlines under the circumstances would render them "mere suggestions." (See generally Dkt. Nos. 24, 25, 26 [Defs.' Memos. of Law].)

In Plaintiff's response to Defendants' motions to preclude him from introducing his expert's report, Plaintiff argues as follows: (1) Plaintiff's counsel notified the Court, and Defendants, when he e-filed a letter to Magistrate Judge Homer on March 18, 2008, that Plaintiff "has a physician who will be an expert in the case"; (2) Plaintiff's counsel demonstrated a "substantial justification" for his failure to comply with the discovery deadlines in that his neglect was as a result of his needing to address, both civilly and criminally, his secretary embezzling funds from him; (3) Defendants were not prejudiced by the late filing because they received the expert's report and relevant disclosure materials on or before September 30, 2008, prior to the dispositive motion filing deadline, and the Court has the power to nunc pro tunc extend the dispositive motion filing deadline to allow Defendants to depose Plaintiff's expert; and (4) Plaintiff would not be able to withstand summary judgment with regard to, at the very least, his medical malpractice claim, if he is precluded from introducing his expert's report. (See generally Dkt. No. 28, Part 16 [Plf.'s Reply Memo. of Law].)

In their reply, Defendants Parsons and Correctional Medical Care, Inc. argue, inter alia, as follows: (1) Plaintiff was aware from the date in which he commenced the current action that expert testimony would be relevant to deciding Plaintiff's medical malpractice, negligence, and Eighth Amendment deliberate-indifference claims; (2) although offering as an excuse for the delay the explanation that Plaintiff's counsel was preoccupied with addressing an issue involving his secretary embezzling funds from him, Plaintiff's counsel at no point requested an extension of time to submit his expert's report; and (3) Plaintiff's expert's report goes "well beyond Plaintiff's articulated claims of negligence," and Defendants are unable to properly respond to these new allegations because the report was submitted after the close of discovery. (See generally Dkt. No. 29 [Defs.' Reply Memo. of Law].)

2. Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment

Generally, in support of their motions for summary judgment, Defendants argue, inter alia, as follows: (1) Plaintiff's retaliation claim cannot survive summary judgment because Plaintiff has failed to introduce evidence of adverse action; (2) Plaintiff's due process claim must be dismissed because Plaintiff has failed to allege that he suffered any due process violations; (3) Plaintiff's conspiracy claim must be dismissed because Plaintiff has failed to allege discriminatory animus; (4) Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim cannot survive summary judgment because [a] Plaintiff has failed to introduce evidence that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs, [b] there was a legitimate penological reason for confiscating Plaintiff's gel cushion, and [c] the individual corrections and medical Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity; (5) Plaintiff's negligence claims cannot survive summary judgment because Plaintiff has failed to introduce evidence that Defendants did not act in a reasonable manner under the circumstances; (6) Plaintiff's medical malpractice claim cannot survive summary judgment because Plaintiff failed to introduce evidence that Defendants Butt, Parsons and Correctional Medical Care, ...


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