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Richard Sunday Ifill v. Glenn Goord

January 16, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny Chief Judge United States District Court



Plaintiff Richard Sunday Ifill is again before this Court on a motion for summary judgment to determine whether there are genuine issues of material fact in dispute as to his remaining claim that he was forced to sleep in a freezing cold cell without adequate clothing in violation of the Eighth Amendment.*fn1 Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief and damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986. Presently before this Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.*fn2 For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.


A. Facts

The Court assumes the parties' familiarity with the Amended Complaints' underlying facts.*fn3 As toPlaintiff's cold cell claim, the relevant facts are as follows. While an inmate at the Five Points Correctional Facility ("Five Points") Plaintiff was transferred to a Special Housing Unit ("SHU") on October 21, 2002. (Ifill Aff. ¶ 6, June 20, 2011, Docket No. 152.) Defendant Sergeant Stephen Woodward, with the assistance of two or three other correctional officers, then removed all of Plaintiff's clothing and forced him to sleep on the cell floor. (Ifill Aff. ¶ 6; Ifill Dep. 24:5-12, Mar. 23, 2010, Docket No. 145.) Plaintiff alleges that the floor was filthy and freezing cold as a result of cold air coming through open windows, air vents, and the recreation yard door, attached to his cell. (Ifill Aff. ¶ 6.) Although the following day one of the windows was closed, Plaintiff remained subjected to these conditions for the duration of his stay in SHU from October 21, 2002 to January 7, 2003. (Ifill Aff. ¶¶ 6, 14.) Allegedly as a result of a suicide attempt, Plaintiff was transferred to the Mental Health Unit, where he was again forced to sleep naked on a freezing floor for one month. (Ifill Aff. ¶¶ 10, 11.) Following Plaintiff's return to SHU, Defendants would, on a daily basis, open the recreation yard door and allow rain water and snow to enter Plaintiff's cell, as well as, three times per week, activate the showers and flood Plaintiff's cell. (Ifill Aff. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff alleges that various other SHU inmates reported similar complaints. (Ifill Aff. ¶ 13.)

B. Procedural History

As with the underlying facts of this case, this Court assumes familiarity with this case's extensive and complicated procedural history. Relevant to Plaintiff's cold cell claim, Plaintiff's most recent Amended Complaint was filed on January 31, 2005. (Docket No. 63). On September 1, 2005, this Court granted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth causes of action from Plaintiff's Complaint. (Docket No. 75). Plaintiff's first and second causes of action were dismissed on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment on September 27, 2007. (Docket No. 114.) The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit , by summary order, vacated and remanded this Court's decision as to Plaintiff's claim that he was placed in a freezing cell without adequate clothing while at Five Points. (Docket No. 120.) On May 11, 2011, Defendants moved for summary judgment on this last claim. (Docket No. 81). For the following reasons, Defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part.


A. Summary Judgment Standard

Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment is warranted where the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A "genuine issue" exists "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986); Ford v. Reynolds, 316 F.3d 351, 354 (2d Cir. 2003). A fact is "material" if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In a case where the non-moving party bears the ultimate burden of proof at trial, the movant may satisfy its burden by pointing to the absence of evidence supporting an essential element of the non-moving party's claim. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986).

At this stage, the function of the court is not "to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.Thus, summary judgment is not appropriate if "there is any evidence in the record that could reasonably support a jury's verdict for the non-moving party." Ford, 316 F.3d at 354.

When deciding a motion for summary judgment, a court must view the evidence and the inferences drawn from the evidence "in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Addickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59, 90 S. Ct.1598, 1609, 26 L. Ed. 2d 142 (1970). However, the party against whom summary judgment is sought "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts . . . . [T]he nonmoving party must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Caldarola v. Calabrese, 298 F.3d 156, 160 (2d Cir. 2002). ...

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