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Gotfried Jean v. C.O. Barber

July 21, 2011

GOTFRIED JEAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
C.O. BARBER, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER, AUBURN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; SGT. CHRISTOPHER, AUBURN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; AND SUPERINTENDENT GRAHAM, AUBURN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mae A. D'Agostino, U.S. District Judge:

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

On April 10, 2009, plaintiff pro se filed the present action, alleging that he was denied adequate medical care, in violation of his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, when defendants failed to provide him with mental health services prior to a suicide attempt. See Dkt. No. 1. In a Report-Recommendation and Order dated June 28, 2011, Magistrate Judge Lowe recommended that the Court grant defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismiss the complaint. See Dkt. No. 52.*fn1

Currently before the Court are plaintiff's objections to Magistrate Judge Lowe's June 28, 2011 Report-Recommendation and Order.*fn2

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual background

In his complaint, plaintiff alleges that his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated during his confinement at the Auburn Correctional Facility ("Auburn C.F."). See Dkt. No. 1 at 4. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that, on December 16, 2006, while in his cell, he told defendant Barber that he wanted to commit suicide. See id. Plaintiff alleges that he then saw defendant Christopher, who told him that there was nothing wrong with him and that he should "do [his] time like a man." See id. at 4-5. Thereafter, plaintiff alleges that defendant Christopher told defendant Barber not to call "any mental health staff." See id. One or two hours later, plaintiff again told defendant Barber that he wanted to commit suicide, but defendant Barber said nothing and walked away. See Dkt. No. 39-3 at 10.

Later that day, plaintiff attempted to commit suicide by "trying to sever [his] arm off with a can top." See Dkt. No. 1 at 5. Plaintiff cut his arm five times. See Dkt. No. 39-3 at 12. At that point, a non-defendant officer arrived and took plaintiff to receive medical attention. See id. at

13. Plaintiff was placed in a cell in the Mental Health Unit ("MHU") at Auburn C.F. and later spoke to a non-defendant individual from the Office of Mental Health ("OMH"). See id. at 14. Thereafter, plaintiff was released to the Special Housing Unit. See id. at 16.

In his complaint, plaintiff alleges that defendants acted with deliberate indifference in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights by leaving him in his cell after he threatened to commit suicide. See Dkt. No. 1 at 5. Plaintiff claims that he saw mental health personnel only after he injured himself. See id. Moreover, plaintiff asserts that his suicide threat and his self-inflicted wounds "are consistent with a serious medical need."

On October 1, 2010, the remaining defendants moved for summary judgment. See Dkt. No. 39. In their motion, defendants argued that (1) plaintiff cannot prevail on his Eighth Amendment claim because defendants were not deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's serious medical needs; and (2) they are entitled to qualified immunity as to each of plaintiff's claims. See Dkt. No. 39-7 at 2-6.

B. Magistrate Judge Lowe's Report-Recommendation and Order

In his Report-Recommendation and Order, Magistrate Judge Lowe found that it was unclear whether plaintiff experienced any previous suicidal thoughts. See Dkt. No. 52 at 6. Citing to his obligation to resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences against the non-moving party, however, Magistrate Judge Lowe still recommended that the Court find that a question of fact has been raised as to whether plaintiff suffered from a sufficiently serious medical need. See id.

Regarding deliberate indifference, Magistrate Judge Lowe recommended that the Court find that "there is no indication that Defendants intentionally delayed access to medical care. Instead, the record shows that Defendants responded quickly to Plaintiff and took steps to assist him." See id. Specifically, Magistrate Judge Lowe set forth the following in support of his conclusion:

When Plaintiff told Defendant Barber at approximately 7:00 a.m. that he wanted to commit suicide, Defendant Barber "immediately informed the first officer on the shift, who then informed [Defendant] Christopher." Barber Dec. at ¶ 5. The logbook entry confirms that Defendant Barber conveyed this information and that Defendant Christopher was notified at 7:10 a.m. Ex. F. Defendant Christopher saw Plaintiff at approximately 7:50 a.m. Christopher Dec. at ¶ 4. Defendant Barber continued to observe Plaintiff until the conclusion of his shift at 3:00 p.m. Barber Dec. at ¶ 8. Plaintiff cut his arm after Defendant Barber finished his shift. Id. at ¶ 7; Jean Dep. at 10.

See id. at 7.

Thereafter, Magistrate Judge Lowe recommended that the Court dismiss plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment claim because it "overlaps" with the Eighth Amendment claims and, therefore, "'will be subsumed by the Eighth Amendment claim as the Eighth Amendment offers greater protection to prisoners.'" See id. at 8 (quotation and other citation omitted). Finally, Magistrate Judge Lowe declined to reach the qualified ...


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