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Goris v. Breslin

January 26, 2010

SIMON GORIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DENNIS BRESLIN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matsumoto, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Pending before the court is a motion for summary judgment by the defendant Public Administrator of Suffolk County as the Administrator of the Estate of Francois Thebaud, M.D., ("the Public Administrator" or "defendant"). Plaintiff Simon Goris ("Goris" or "plaintiff") commenced the pending action against Dr. Francois Thebaud ("Dr. Thebaud") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking monetary relief for alleged deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment while plaintiff was incarcerated at Arthur Kill Correctional Facility ("Arthur Kill") between February 2003 and August 2004. On August 25, 2008, Dr. Thebaud passed away and, on March 25, 2009, the Public Administrator was substituted for Dr. Thebaud.

Defendant has moved for summary judgment, arguing that: 1) Plaintiff does not suffer from an objectively serious medical condition and cannot demonstrate that Dr. Thebaud acted with deliberate indifference; and 2) Dr. Thebaud is protected by qualified immunity. (Doc. No. 133, Def.'s Mem of Law in Supp. of Mot. for Summary Judgment at 8-18.) Plaintiff argues that the numerous issues of fact surrounding Dr. Thebaud's liability preclude summary judgment. (See generally, Doc. No. 135, Pl.'s Mem. of Law in Opp'n.) For the following reasons, defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted.

BACKGROUND

I. Procedural History

Plaintiff commenced this action pro se on December 20, 2004, against defendants Dennis Breslin, Francois Thebaud, M.D., Gail Buswell, R.N., Syed Haider-Shah, M.D., and Lester Wright, M.D., alleging that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Upon defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), (6), and (3), Judge Amon dismissed plaintiff's claim against defendant Dennis Breslin, the Superintendant of Arthur Kill Correctional Facility, in an order dated May 10, 2006. Discovery proceeded with the remaining defendants.

On October 30, 2007, plaintiff obtained pro bono counsel. Discovery closed on June 30, 2008. Co-defendants Buswell, Haider-Shah and Wright filed a motion for summary judgment on October 27, 2008, which the court granted on July 6, 2009.

On August 25, 2008, Dr. Thebaud passed away. On March 25, 2009, upon a motion by plaintiff, the Public Administrator was substituted for Dr. Thebaud. On June 26, 2009, the State filed a motion for summary judgment on behalf of the Public Administrator. For the following reasons, the Public Administrator's motion is granted.

II. Undisputed Material Facts

A. Plaintiff's Knee Injury and Subsequent Treatment

Based on the plaintiff's medical records from the Department of Corrections ("DOC") submitted by plaintiff and defendants, the court finds the undisputed material facts to be as follows.*fn1

Plaintiff was formerly an inmate in the custody of the New York State Department of Correctional Services. On February 9, 2003, while playing basketball at the Arthur Kill, plaintiff sustained an injury to his right knee. (Doc. No. 110, Oct. 14, 2008 Castiglione Declaration ("10/14/08 Castiglione Decl."), Ex. 1, Ambulatory Health Records of Simon Goris (collectively, "Ambulatory Health Records") at D024.)

Dr. Thebaud examined plaintiff on February 11, 2003 and noted swelling and tenderness of his right knee, and ordered an x-ray of plaintiff's knee. (Id.) The x-ray, taken on February 13, 2003, was negative and plaintiff was so informed on March 6, 2003. (Id.; 10/14/08 Castiglione Decl., Ex. 3, 2/13/03 Staten Island University Hospital X-Ray Examination Report at 1; the medical records because the plaintiff relies on the records in support of his claims and in his opposition to the motion for summary judgment. See Atkinson v. Fischer, No. 07-CV-00368, 2009 WL 3165544, at *3 n.1 (N.D.N.Y. Sept. 25, 2009) (Report and Recommendation)(although lack of authentication rendered medical and grievance records "not technically admissible," court considered the records when granting defendants' motion for summary judgment "because Plaintiff relied on many of the same records in his complaint and in his opposition to the motion for summary judgment"); Sheils v. Flynn, No. 06-CV-0407, 2009 WL 2868215, at *2 n.2 (N.D.N.Y. Sept. 2, 2009) (Report and Recommendation) (although court found that lack of authentication rendered medical records attached as exhibits to affidavits "not technically admissible," the court considered the records on defendants' motion for summary judgment "because Plaintiff also relied on the records in his opposition to the motion for summary judgment"). The parties are cautioned that medical records should be properly authenticated and accompanied by an affidavit or certification that complies with Fed. R. Doc. No. 136, June 18, 2009 Castiglione Declaration ("6/18/09 Castiglione Decl."), Ex. 1, 3/28/08 Deposition of Dr. Thebaud ("Thebaud Dep.") at 80.) Dr. Thebaud gave plaintiff pain medication and an Ace Bandage. (Thebaud Dep. at 81.) Dr. Thebaud saw plaintiff on March 14, 2003 to discuss his cholesterol but there is no indication that plaintiff discussed his knee. (Ambulatory Health Records at D025.)

On April 7, 2003, after noting that plaintiff continued to have swelling, buckling and pain in his right knee, Dr. Thebaud ordered an orthopedic consultation for plaintiff at Staten Island University Hospital. (Id. at D026; 10/14/08 Castiglione Decl., Ex. 2, Requests and Reports of Consultation of Simon Goris ("Consultation Reports") at D139.) Plaintiff did not make any complaint regarding his knee during visits with a nurse on April 17 or on April 29, 2003. (Ambulatory Health Records at D026.) Plaintiff saw an orthopedic consultant on May 14, 2003, who recommended physical therapy and an MRI of the right knee. (Id. at D027; Consultation Reports at D139.) Based on this recommendation, on May 15, 2003, Dr. Thebaud ordered a physical therapy consultation and an MRI. (Consultation Reports at D140-D141.) On June 5, 2003, the physical therapist recommended physical therapy twice a week for an unspecified period. (Id. at D140.) On June 12, 2003, Dr. Thebaud ordered another physical therapy consultation. (Id. at D142-D143.)

Plaintiff had physical therapy in June and July of 2003. (Id. at D140-D145.)

On June 16, 2003, an MRI was performed on plaintiff's right knee, which suggested an anterior cruciate ligament ("ACL") tear. (Id. at D141; 10/14/08 Castiglione Decl., Ex. 4, 6/18/03 Staten Island University Hospital MRI Report for Simon Goris ("MRI Report") at 1-2.) The MRI also diagnosed an oblique tear of the medial meniscus involving the body and posterior horn, mild to moderate degenerative changes (arthritis) manifested by joint space narrowing and osteophyte formation, and other intact ligaments and tendons. (MRI Report at 1-2.)

On July 3, 2003, referencing the MRI results, Dr. Thebaud referred plaintiff for an orthopedic consultation. (Ambulatory Health Records at D033; Consultation Reports at D144.) On July 23, 2003, plaintiff was seen by an orthopedist who noted that plaintiff reported that his right knee pain and instability were "unimproved" since his last visit. (Consultation Reports at D144.) The orthopedist further noted that plaintiff reported pain on flexion of his right knee and prescribed continuing physical therapy and directed that plaintiff not engage ...


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