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Cooper v. Marrero

United States District Court, Second Circuit

June 11, 2013

JERMAINE COOPER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAPTAIN MAYRA MARRERO, et al., Defendants.

OPINION & ORDER

PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jermaine Cooper brings this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, against defendants Captain Mayra Marrero and Officers Kirkton Dale, Damera Small, and Nakiya Thompson, who are employees of the New York City Department of Correction. Cooper claims that defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment when, on three occasions, they denied him permission to go to the bathroom for a period of no longer than one hour. Defendants move for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, that motion is granted.

I. Background[1]

A. Factual Background

Beginning on October 23, 2011, Cooper was detained in the custody of the New York City Department of Correction, at the Manhattan Detention Complex ("MDC"). Beath Decl. Ex. D (12/10/2012 Deposition of Jermaine Cooper) ("Cooper Dep."), at 45. In late October 2011, Cooper was prescribed medication to treat his high blood pressure. Id. at 58-59. That medication makes him need to urinate frequently. Id. As a result, on October 31, 2011, a physician at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene provided Cooper with a note that reads: "Permission to have access to cell/toilet due to medical condition." Beath Decl. Ex. E.[2]

The "Seven-South" section of MDC in which Cooper was detained consists of two floors with 16 individual cells on each floor arranged in a U-shape around a common area. Cooper Dep. 45-46. Each cell has a toilet in it, but the common area does not. Id. at 51, 62. During the day, the doors to the individual cells remain locked. Id. at 81. Once every hour, at the same time each hour, a correctional officer announces "options, " which is a five-minute window during which an inmate can ask an officer to open the inmate's cell door so that the inmate can either exit or reenter his cell. Id. at 80-81. Inmates who spend time in the common area use these options periods to use the bathroom, grab food, or return to their cell to be locked in for the night. Id. at 81. Inmates typically cannot enter or exit their cells at other times. This lawsuit arises from three occasions on which Cooper had left his cell to spend time in the common area and was denied permission to reenter his cell to use the bathroom before the next options period.

First, on December 5, 2011, Officer Damera Small was working in the Seven-South common area. Id. at 87-88. Cooper asked Officer Small to let him back into his cell so that he could use the bathroom, but she ignored him. Id. at 91-93. Cooper then showed her his doctor's note, but Officer Small informed Cooper that he would have to wait until the next option. Id. at 93. Cooper asked a second time, and was again refused. Id. at 95-96. Cooper testified that being forced to hold his bladder typically caused him sharp pain in his stomach and bladder area, which would last between five and 15 minutes and subside when he urinated. Id. at 98-99. Cooper did not, however, inform Officer Small that he was in pain. Id. at 100.

Second, on December 6, 2011, Cooper approached Officer Kirkton Dale, who was working in the common area, showed him the doctor's note, and requested to be let into his cell. Id. at 109-10. Officer Dale refused. Id. Ten to 15 minutes after speaking with Officer Dale, Cooper urinated on himself because "the pain was unbearable." Id. at 115-16. Cooper did not inform Officer Dale that he was in pain. Id. at 117.

Third, on December 9, 2011, Cooper approached Officer Nakiya Thompson, who was working in the common area, and asked to use the bathroom. Id. at 123. She told him to wait until the next option. Id. Cooper showed Officer Thompson his doctor's note, but Officer Thompson stated that it was probably fake, because the previous day several inmates had been caught with fake doctor's notes. Id. After Cooper insisted that he had a serious medical condition, id. at 124-25, Officer Thompson asked what condition he had, to which Cooper replied that it was none of her business, id. at 128. Five minutes after being denied permission to enter his cell, Cooper urinated on himself. Id. Cooper did not tell Officer Thompson that he was in pain, but did tell her that he had urinated on himself. Id. at 129.[3]

On three other occasions during this time period, Cooper visited the prison health center. On December 5, 2011, he was treated for elbow pain, for which he was prescribed ibuprofen. Beath Decl. Ex. F, at NYC18. On December 8, 2011, he was treated for dermatitis on his hands, for which he was prescribed hydrocortisone ointment. Id. at NYC16. On December 12, 2011, he was treated for discolored and peeling feet, for which he was prescribed ointment. Id. at NYC14. On none of these visits did Cooper complain of stomach or bladder pain. Cooper Dep. 145-46, 148-49, 150-52. Additionally, beginning the first week of November 2011, Cooper suffered from an irritating rash on his legs. Id. at 140. He was given ointment for the rash, which subsided in early 2012. Id. at 140-41.

B. Procedural History

On December 16, 2011, Cooper filed a Complaint. Dkt. 2. On May 21, 2013, he filed an Amended Complaint. Dkt. 21. On March 14, 2013, defendants moved for summary judgment. Dkt. 38-41. On April 17 and 22, 2013, Cooper filed a memorandum of law and a statement of facts in opposition to that motion. Dkt. 47-48. On May 2, 2013, defendants filed a reply. Dkt. 49-50.

II. Applicable Legal Standard

To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the movant must "show[] that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The movant bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a question of material fact. In making this determination, the Court must view all facts "in the light most favorable" to the non-moving party. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); see also Holcomb v. Iona Coll., 521 F.3d 130, 132 (2d Cir. 2008). To survive a summary judgment motion, the opposing party must establish a genuine issue of fact by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1); see also Wright v. Goord, 554 F.3d 255, 266 (2d Cir. 2009). "A party may not rely on mere speculation or conjecture as to the true nature of the facts to overcome a motion for summary judgment." Hicks v. Baines, 593 F.3d 159, 166 (2d Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). Only disputes over "facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law" will preclude a grant of summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In determining whether there are genuine ...


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