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Woods v. City of Utica

United States District Court, N.D. New York

November 5, 2012

Travis WOODS, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF UTICA; Police Officer Holtz, [1] in his individual and professional capacity; John and Jane Does, Utica police officers in their individual and professional capacities; Oneida County; Daniel Middaugh, in his individual and professional capacity as Sheriff of Oneida County; Deputy Sheriff Gondeck; Deputy Sheriff Eyre; Deputy Sheriff Hogan; Deputy Sheriff Batson; Deputy Sheriff Leaf; and John and Jane Does, Oneida County correctional officers in their individual and professional capacities, Defendants.

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Bosman Law Office, of counsel, A.J. Bosman, Esq., Norman P. Deep, Esq., Rome, NY, Longeretta Law Firm, of counsel, David A. Longeretta, Esq., Utica, NY, for Plaintiff.

Office of Corporation Counsel— City of Utica, of counsel, John P. Orilio, Esq., Mark C. Curley, Esq., Utica, NY, for Defendants City of Utica and Police Officer Holt.

Gorman, Waszkiewicz, Gorman & Schmitt, of counsel, Bartle J. Gorman, Esq., Utica, NY, for Defendants Oneida County, Daniel Middaugh, Deputy Sheriff Gondeck, Deputy Sheriff Eyre, Deputy Sheriff Hogan, Deputy Sheriff Batson, and Deputy Sheriff Leaf.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

DAVID N. HURD, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Travis Woods (" plaintiff" or " Woods" ) filed this action on November 8, 2010. He filed an amended complaint on July 19, 2011, against defendants the City of Utica (" the City" ); Officer Holt of the Utica Police Department (" Officer Holt" ); Oneida County (" the County" ); Daniel Middaugh, former Sheriff of Oneida County (" Sheriff Middaugh" ); and Oneida County Corrections Officers Jason Gondeck (" CO Gondeck" ), Patricia Eyre (" CO Eyre" ), Kimberly Hogan (" CO Hogan" ), Michael Batson (" CO Batson" ), and Mark Leaf (" CO Leaf" ).[2] Plaintiff brings federal

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causes of action alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213 (2006) (" ADA" ); the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 701-796l (2006); and the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. He also brings a state law cause of action for alleged violations of New York Human Rights Law.

The City and County defendants have each moved for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Plaintiff has responded in opposition to both motions, and defendants replied. The motions were considered on submit.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The parties present different versions of the facts. The following is an account of the facts viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the non-movant. Woods, a paraplegic, has been wheelchair-bound since 1993. On October 29, 2009, he was arrested by defendant Officer Holt for possession of cocaine on Elizabeth Street in Utica, New York. Officer Holt summoned a police van to transport plaintiff to the police station. However, plaintiff advised that he could not be transported in the van because it was not equipped with a wheelchair lift and locks. In response, Officer Holt opened the front passenger door of his car, an unmarked four-door sedan, and instructed plaintiff to get in the car. Plaintiff's handcuffs were removed, and he lifted himself onto the passenger seat. Officer Holt recuffed plaintiff, placing the handcuffs in front of his body, but did not secure him with a seat belt. The ten-minute ride to the police station was without incident.

Upon arrival at the police station, Officer Holt took the handcuffs off Woods so he could maneuver himself back into his wheelchair. Officer Holt and another officer then lifted plaintiff and his wheelchair, carried him up several steps, and wheeled him into the building. Plaintiff was processed in the police station, arraigned in the adjoining city court building, and turned over to the custody of defendants CO Gondeck and CO Leaf to be transported to the Oneida County Correctional Facility (" OCCF" or " jail" ).[3] The Oneida County Sheriffs Office van that these defendants used was not equipped with a wheelchair lift or locks. Instead, they lifted plaintiff out of his wheelchair, carried him through the side door of the van, and placed him on the floor of a private compartment in the middle of the van. Plaintiff then maneuvered himself onto a bench seat. This movement caused his pants and underwear to fall, exposing him to the officers and anyone passing by. Plaintiff's wheelchair was placed in the back of the van.

Before leaving the parking lot, Woods— who requires a catheter to urinate due to his medical condition— advised that he needed to urinate. Defendants CO Gondeck and CO Leaf gave him an empty plastic soda bottle from the city court building. Plaintiff catheterized himself and attempted to urinate into the bottle. However, the van started moving, and he was thrown about the inside of the compartment because he had not been secured to the bench with a seat belt. This movement caused plaintiff to urinate on himself and one of his legs to spasm during the approximately fifteen minute ride to the OCCF.

Upon arrival at the OCCF, Woods maneuvered himself from the bench seat to

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the floor of the van and, eventually, to a wheelchair. This took several minutes, and other inmates watched him struggle. Plaintiff was made to use a generic facility wheelchair, which caused him discomfort, for approximately two hours before his customized wheelchair was inspected and returned. Plaintiff was classified by defendant CO Hogan, a Classifications Officer at OCCF, and placed in the medical unit. Defendant CO Eyre, an Admissions Officer at the jail, performed an initial medical screening.

Woods was released from the medical unit into the general population on November 3, 2009. He remained in the jail for approximately two weeks and was released on bail on November 13, 2009. During his incarceration he was not provided with enough sterile catheters and had to urinate into a dirty milk carton.[4] Further, he did not receive his prescription pain medication and was only given one suppository during his entire stay at the OCCF even though he requires one every other day to ensure regular bowel movements.

While Woods was incarcerated he was transported to court proceedings on November 4 and 13, 2009, by the County defendants in vehicles that were not equipped with a wheelchair lift or locks.[5] The County defendants attempted to secure wheelchair-accessible transportation through a private service, but that service did not respond to the request. Woods did not file any grievances while incarcerated at the OCCF.

III. DISCUSSION

The City and County defendants argue that they are entitled to summary judgment on all claims because: (1) plaintiff was provided with reasonable accommodations for his disability; (2) there is no evidence that they discriminated against him; (3) plaintiff received adequate care for his medical needs; (4) they are entitled to qualified immunity; and (5) plaintiff did not file a notice of claim alleging a violation of New York Human Rights Law.[6]

A. Motion for Summary Judgment— Legal Standard

The entry of summary judgment is warranted when " 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 ...


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