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Douglas v. Bughrara

United States District Court, Second Circuit

September 23, 2013

DR. BUGHRARA; et al., Defendants.


LAWRENCE E. KAHN, District Judge.


This matter comes before the Court following a Report-Recommendation filed on August 1, 2013, by the Honorable David E. Peebles, U.S. Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 72.3(d) of the Northern District of New York. Dkt. No. 36 ("Report-Recommendation"). After fourteen days from the service thereof, the Clerk has sent the entire file to the undersigned, including the Objections by Plaintiff Houston Douglas ("Plaintiff"), which were filed on September 3, 2013. Dkt. No. 39 ("Objections"). For the following reasons, the Court approves and adopts the Report-Recommendation in its entirety and grants Defendants' Motion for summary judgment. Dkt. No. 25 ("Motion").


The Court presumes the parties' familiarity with the facts underlying this case. For a complete statement of the facts, reference is made to the Report-Recommendation and Complaint. Dkt. Nos. 1, 36. Since 2007, Plaintiff has been housed in the Residential Medical Unit of the Coxsackie Correctional Facility due to serious long-term health problems. Report-Rec at 3. In early November 2008, Plaintiff was sent to Albany Medical Center ("AMC") when medical staff at RMU believed that Plaintiff was exhibiting symptoms of pneumonia. Id . At AMC, IV Specialist Doe first tried to install an IV line into Plaintiff's neck, which Plaintiff refused, then Plaintiff's leg, which Plaintiff also refused, and ultimately installed the IV in Plaintiff's right forearm. Id. at 4. A few hours later, Plaintiff noticed that his arm had begun to swell and develop blisters around the site of the IV entry point, and called for a nurse to remove it. Douglas Dep. Tr. (Dkt. No. 25-1) at 72. The blisters had formed where Plaintiff's skin was in contact with the IV tape. Report-Rec. at 4. Plaintiff's arm was treated with dressings and antibiotic ointments, although the blistering continued for the next few days. Id. at 4-5. Plaintiff's treating physicians at AMC, Drs. Bughrara and Byrd ("Defendants"), were notified, and a plastic surgeon at the hospital also examined Plaintiff's arm, and concluded that Plaintiff's wounds were ordinary blisters and would heal over time. Id. at 5. Plaintiff refused to stay at AMC to allow Defendants to determine the cause of Plaintiff's injury. Douglas Dep. Tr. at 56-57.

Although Plaintiff alleges in the Complaint that his arm was in pain for several months, Plaintiff's medical records show that Plaintiff regularly reported to AMC medical staff that he was not in pain. Report-Rec. at 5-6. Furthermore, Plaintiff testified that after leaving AMC in early November 2008, he did not receive, or expect to receive, treatment for his arm from Defendants. Douglas Dep. Tr. at 54. Plaintiff commenced this action on October 20, 2011, alleging that IV Specialist Doe improperly installed the IV in his arm and that Defendants Bughrara and Byrd failed to both protect him from IV Specialist Doe and ensure that a qualified employee performed the procedure. Compl. at 6. Plaintiff also filed an in forma pauperis application, which was granted on March 15, 2102. Dkt. No. 6. Discovery was conducted, and Defendants then filed a Motion for summary judgment. Mot.


A. Review of a Magistrate Judge's Report-Recommendation

A district court must review de novo any objected-to portions of a magistrate judge's reportrecommendation or specific proposed findings or recommendations therein and "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); accord FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b); see also Morris v. Local 804, Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters , 167 F.Appx. 230, 232 (2d Cir. 2006); Barnes v. Prack, No. 11-CV-0857 , 2013 WL 1121353, at *1 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 18, 2013). If no objections are made, or if an objection is general, conclusory, perfunctory, or a mere reiteration of an argument made to the magistrate judge, a district court need review that aspect of a report-recommendation only for clear error. Barnes , 2013 WL 1121353, at *1; Farid v. Bouey , 554 F.Supp.2d 301, 306-07 & n.2 (N.D.N.Y. 2008); see also Machicote v. Ercole, No. 06 Civ. 13320 , 2011 WL 3809920, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 25, 2011) ("[E]ven a pro se party's objections to a Report and Recommendation must be specific and clearly aimed at particular findings in the magistrate's proposal, such that no party be allowed a second bite at the apple by simply relitigating a prior argument."). A district court "may also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); accord FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b)(3).

B. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment motions are governed by Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A court should grant summary judgment "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material facts and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986); Sec. Ins. Co. of Hartford v. Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc. , 391 F.3d 77, 82-83 (2d Cir. 2004). The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine dispute of material fact to be decided with respect to any essential element of the claim at issue, by reference to appropriate portions of the record. Celotex , 477 U.S. at 323. If the moving party satisfies its burden, the nonmoving party must demonstrate the existence of a material fact, by evidence other than the pleadings, that creates an issue for trial. Id. at 324; see FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e); Anderson , 477 U.S. at 250. Denial of the motion is warranted if the moving party fails to meet its burden, while the motion should be granted if the nonmoving then party fails to meet its burden. Anderson , 477 U.S. at 250; Sec. Ins. Co. of Hartford , 391 F.3d at 83. In reviewing the record to determine whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all permissible inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc. , 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000); Sec. Ins. Co. of Hartford , 391 F.3d at 83. A court is justified in granting summary judgment only after finding that no reasonable trier of fact could rule in favor of the nonmoving party. Anderson , 477 U.S. at 250.

C. Statute of Limitations

1. Section 1983 Claim

The limitations period for an Eighth Amendment deliberate medical indifference claim brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 derives from the statute of limitations for personal injury actions under the laws of the forum state. Owens v. Okure , 488 U.S. 235, 249-50 (1989). In New York, the statute of limitations for a § 1983 action is three years. N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 214(5); see also Connolly v. McCall , 254 F.3d 36, 40-41 (2d Cir. 2001). A § 1983 claim accrues "when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the harm that he seeks to redress." Connolly , 254 F.3d at 41. However, the continuing violation doctrine and the prison mailbox rule may apply to alter the effect of the statute of limitations. The continuing violation doctrine can apply when a prisoner alleges that a series of acts taken together constitute an Eighth Amendment violation. Shomo v. New York. , 579 F.3d 176, 182 (2d Cir. 2009). In order to assert a continuing violation for statute of limitations purposes in the context ...

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