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Henderson v. Heffler

July 12, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: John T. Curtin United States District Judge


Plaintiff commenced this action with the filing of a complaint on July 27, 2007 (Item 1). He has alleged two causes of action against both defendants: pursuant to Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the deprivation of due process, and a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ("HIPAA"). He has also alleged two claims against defendant Heffler only: the violation of New York General Business Law § 350-b and common law fraud. On August 15, 2007, defendant Jones filed a motion to dismiss the complaint or to stay the action on the authority of Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971) (Item 5). In a Memorandum and Opinion filed July 24, 2008, the motion was denied (Item 12).

Defendant Heffler filed an answer to the complaint on August 20, 2007 (Item 6), and defendant Jones filed an answer on December 19, 2008 (Item 17). On September 30, 2009, plaintiff filed a motion to compel answers to interrogatories (Item 41). Heffler filed a response to the motion to compel on October 6, 2009 (Item 43). The parties were directed to confer in an attempt to resolve any outstanding discovery disputes (Item 53). On November 3, 2009, the court allowed defendant Heffler the opportunity to file an amended answer, which was filed on November 5, 2009 (Item 45).

On January 5, 2010, defendant Heffler filed a motion for summary judgment (Item 50). Defendant Jones filed a motion for summary judgment on February 11, 2010 (Item 56). In an order filed May 7, 2010, the court directed plaintiff to file a response to the motions and to advise the court if there were any outstanding discovery disputes. Plaintiff was advised that if he did not so advise the court by May 21, 2010, the motion to compel would be dismissed as moot (Item 67). Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the motions for summary judgment on May 12, 2010 (Item 68). Defendant Jones filed an affirmation in reply (Item 69), and defendant Heffler filed a reply memorandum (Item 71). Plaintiff did not advise the court that any further action should be taken on the plaintiff's motion to compel, and that motion (Item 41) is therefore dismissed as moot. Additionally, the court determined that oral argument on the motions for summary judgment was unnecessary. For the reasons that follow, the motions are granted, and the complaint is dismissed.


On February 23, 2006, plaintiff pleaded guilty to a violation of New York State Penal Law § 260.10-1, endangering the welfare of a child, a Class A misdemeanor, in the Amherst Town Court, Amherst, New York (Item 50, Exh. G). On June 8, 2006, he was sentenced to a three-year term of probation by the Hon. Mark Farrell. Id., Exh. H. The Order of Probation provides that, "[a]t the direction of the Probation Officer," defendant was to "attend, actively participate and remain in sex offender treatment and comply with all the rules and regulations of the program." Id. Additionally, plaintiff was required to "[s]ubmit to any program of psychological or physiological assessment at the direction of the Probation Officer...," including polygraph testing. Id. The conditions of probation were slightly modified in court on August 10, 2006 to allow plaintiff to have contact with family members under the age of seventeen with adult supervision. Id. The Order of Probation indicates that plaintiff was still required to be evaluated for sex offender treatment. Id. At the time, Judge Farrell stated that plaintiff must "undergo an assessment by a licensed treatment provider, and if they require treatment... then he has to go to treatment." (Item 68, Exh. A. 18).

Plaintiff was referred for evaluation for sex offender treatment at Horizon Health Services. Dr. Hak J. Ko found no major mental health issues and no consistent pattern of sex offense, but found that plaintiff "could benefit from [the] educational phase of sex offense treatment in view of his admission of exercising poor judgment." (Item 68, Exh. B). Plaintiff refused treatment and was discharged from the program (Item 57, Exh. D). As a result of his refusal to participate, plaintiff was charged with a violation of probation (Item 50, Exh. I).

At a hearing on May 10, 2007, Judge Farrell found that plaintiff was in violation of the terms of probation for his refusal to participate in the treatment program at Horizon and ordered him to appear the next day for treatment (Item 50, Exh. J, pp. 7-8). At that time, the Assistant District attorney conveyed a request of defendant Jones and asked if Judge Farrell would order an assessment by defendant Heffler. Id., p. 9. Judge Farrell ordered "that we start from square one," that plaintiff submit to an evaluation by defendant Heffler, and that plaintiff 's treatment would consist of "whatever is deemed appropriate" following the evaluation (Item 50, Exh. J, p. 10).

Plaintiff attended approximately six sessions with defendant Heffler, from May 11, 2007 until June 26, 2007 Item 50, Exh. K). He commenced this action on June 27, 2007 (Item 1). At that time, defendant Heffler ceased his assessment of plaintiff due to the conflict of interest (Item 50, Exh. L).


1. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby. Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). The burden of demonstrating the absence of any genuine dispute as to a material fact rests with the moving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970). In determining whether there is a genuine issue as to any material fact, "[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in [its] favor." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.

"Only when reasonable minds could not differ as to the import of the evidence is summary judgment proper." Bryant v. Maffucci, 923 F.2d 979, 982 (2d Cir. 1991). Summary judgment cannot be entered " 'if there is any evidence in the record from any source from which a reasonable inference could be drawn in favor of the nonmoving party." Yurman Design, Inc. v. Golden Treasure Imps., Inc., 275 F. Supp. 2d 506, 508 (S.D.N.Y. 2003). The trial court's function at the summary judgment stage "is carefully limited to discerning whether there are any genuine issues of material fact to be tried, not to deciding them. Its duty, in short, is confined at this point to issue-finding; it does not extend to issue-resolution." Gallo v. ...

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