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Leon Campbell v. the City of New York

December 15, 2011

LEON CAMPBELL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, OFFICER LEON NATAL, CAPTAIN ADOLFO FLORES, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Currently before the Court are Plaintiff Leon Campbell's two federal claims, brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("§ 1983"): an excessive force claim against correction officer Leon Natal, and a denial of medical care claim against Natal and correction officer Adolfo Flores. Plaintiff also brings state-law claims against the City of New York ("the City"), Natal and Flores (collectively, "defendants").*fn1 Defendants move for partial summary judgment as to (1) plaintiff's denial of medical care claim against the individual defendants and, (2) plaintiff's state law claims against all defendants.

I

The following facts are taken from defendants' Rule 56.1 statement and supporting documentation. Plaintiff did not submit a counter-statement under Rule 56.1. Accordingly, the Court is permitted to take as true the assertions in defendants' Rule 56.1 statement. See Holtz v. Rockefeller & Co., Inc., 258 F.3d 62, 73 (2d Cir. 2001).

During the period relevant to this lawsuit, plaintiff was an inmate at the Anna M. Cross Center ("AMKC") on Rikers Island. Natal and Flores were corrections officers employed by the New York City Department of Corrections ("DOC") and working at AMKC.

In his deposition, plaintiff stated that on September 6, 2007 Natal "attacked" him, grabbing his arm and throwing him onto a wooden chair. Ex. B, Campbell Tr. 13:11; 54:15. Plaintiff filed a grievance about the incident. AMKC personnel and the DOC Investigations Division ("ID") conducted an investigation and determined that plaintiff's allegations were unfounded. Plaintiff stated in his deposition that Natal attacked him again on September 23, 2007, pushing plaintiff into the wall and floor at the AMKC mental health clinic and punching him in the head. Plaintiff also said in his deposition that Flores arrived at the mental health clinic shortly after the September 23rd incident and asked plaintiff to explain what had happened.

According to an "Injury to Inmate" report dated September 23, 2007, at approximately 5:45 p.m. that day plaintiff "accidentally trip[ed] and bang[ed] his head on the partition" at the mental health clinic. Ex. D, Injury to Inmate Report. At approximately 7 p.m. on that date, plaintiff received medical treatment from Doctor Aslam Kadri. The doctor diagnosed plaintiff with a "superficial abrasion" on his right cheek. Def's 56.1 Stmt.

¶ 5; Ex. D, Injury to Inmate Report. The doctor did not note any bleeding to the eyes and ears or trauma to the abdomen or chest. The doctor cleaned plaintiff's injury with saline and Bacitracin. Plaintiff also received Motrin. An x-ray of plaintiff's mandible was taken and, according to an "Injury to Inmate" report completed on September 28, 2007, was "negative." Def's 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 9; Ex. D, Injury to Inmate Report. Photographs of plaintiff's injuries, taken on September 28th, show no injuries aside from the scratch on plaintiff's right cheek. AMKC personnel and ID investigated the incident and determined that plaintiff's allegations of abuse were unfounded.

II

A. Denial of Medical Care

Plaintiff first asserts that he was denied adequate medical care for the injuries he sustained on September 23, 2007. As a preliminary matter, plaintiff refers vaguely to the failure of "defendants" to provide him with adequate medical care, without specifying which of the defendants was personally involved in the alleged violation. See Wright v. Smith, 21 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir. 1994) ("Personal involvement of defendants in alleged constitutional deprivations is a prerequisite to an award of damages under § 1983."). Based upon the record, however, the core of plaintiff's argument is that Flores was present when plaintiff reported for medical treatment and instructed the doctors, who are not defendants, to write false injury reports. See Ex. B, Campbell Tr. 98:14-99:11. Plaintiff has withdrawn his § 1983 claim against the City, and does not allege that Natal was personally involved in denying him medical care. The Court therefore only considers the viability of plaintiff's denial of medical care claim against Flores.

1. Standards Governing Denial of Medical Care Claim

The United States Supreme Court has held that "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the 'unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain' proscribed by the Eighth Amendment." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105 (1976). To establish an unconstitutional denial of medical care, a plaintiff must show: (1) objectively, that the alleged deprivation is "sufficiently serious," and (2) subjectively, defendants acted with a "sufficiently culpable state of mind." Hathaway v. Coughlin, 37 F.3d 63, 66 (2d Cir. 1995).

The inquiry for the objective element requires a "threshold showing of serious illness or injury." Smith v. Carpenter, 316 F.3d 178, 184 (2d Cir. 2003); see Hemmings v. Gorczyk, 134 F.3d 104, 108 (2d Cir. 1998) (the alleged deprivation must have occurred in response to a medical "condition of urgency, one that may produce death, degeneration, or extreme pain."). "Factors relevant to the seriousness of a medical condition include whether a reasonable doctor or patient would find [it] important and worthy of comment, whether the condition significantly affects an individual's daily activities, and whether it causes chronic and substantial pain." Salahuddin v. Goord, 467 F.3d 263, 280 (2d Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks ...


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