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Rodriguez v. Manenti

United States District Court, N.D. New York

April 24, 2014

JAIME RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN MANENTI, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

LAWRENCE E. KAHN, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the Court following a Report-Recommendation filed on January 13, 2014, by the Honorable Therèse Wiley Dancks, U.S. Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 72.3. Dkt. No. 99 ("Report-Recommendation"). Judge Dancks recommends that Defendant John Manenti's ("Defendant") Motion for summary judgment be granted, that Plaintiff Jaime Rodriguez's ("Plaintiff") Amended Motion for summary judgment be denied, and that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint be dismissed as to any yet-unnamed Defendants. See generally Report-Rec; Dkt. Nos. 37 ("Amended Complaint"); 89 ("Plaintiff's SJ Motion")[1]; 92 ("Defendant's SJ Motion"); 92-1 ("Defendant's SJ Memorandum"). Plaintiff has filed Objections. Dkt. No. 100 ("Objections").

II. BACKGROUND

The Court presumes the parties' familiarity with the underlying facts of this case. For a more detailed statement of facts, reference is made to the Amended Complaint, both parties' summary judgment briefs, and the Report-Recommendation.

The Complaint alleges that Defendant violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights by failing to authorize surgery on Plaintiff's injured knee. See Am. Compl. ¶ 15. Both parties moved for summary judgment. Pl.'s SJ Mot.; Def.'s SJ Mot. Each party responded, and Plaintiff filed a Reply. Dkt. Nos. 95; 96; 98. Magistrate Judge Dancks recommended that the Court grant Defendant's Motion and deny Plaintiff's because (1) Plaintiff has not adduced sufficient evidence of the seriousness of his medical condition; and (2) at most, Defendant's denial of surgery was malpractice, which is not actionable under the Eighth Amendment as a matter of law. Report-Rec.

Plaintiff objected, arguing that Judge Dancks (1) failed to consider the full extent of his injury; and (2) mischaracterized Defendant's decision as a "difference of medical opinion." See generally Objs. After a thorough de novo review of the record, the Court finds merit in Plaintiff's Objections and declines to adopt the portion of the Report-Recommendation granting Defendant summary judgment. Upon review of the remainder of Defendant's summary-judgment Motion, the Court finds no other basis on which to grant summary judgment; therefore Defendant's Motion is denied. The Court approves and adopts the remainder of the Report-Recommendation.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. 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. Chylinski v. Bank of Am., N.A. , 434 F.Appx. 47, 48 (2d Cir. 2011).

B. Motion for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is proper where "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, " and thus "the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). "An issue of fact is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. v. Hudson River-Black River Regulating Dist. , 673 F.3d 84, 94 (2d Cir. 2012). The moving party must first meet a burden of production, which differs depending on whether the moving party will have the burden of proving the claim or element at trial. Celotex , 477 U.S. at 330-32 (Brennan, J., dissenting). Plaintiff will bear the burden of proving the deliberate indifference factors at trial; he "must support [his] motion with credible evidence-using any of the materials specified in Rule 56(c)-that would entitle [him] to a directed verdict if not controverted at trial." Id. at 331. Defendant will not bear the burden at trial; he may, in support of his Motion: (1) "submit affirmative evidence that negates an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim"; or (2) "demonstrate to the Court that the nonmoving party's evidence is insufficient to establish an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim." Id . If a moving party has carried its burden, the nonmoving party must raise some genuine issue of material fact; "metaphysical doubt as to material facts" is not enough. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). However, the burden of persuasion remains at all times with the moving party, who must affirmatively demonstrate entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex , 477 U.S. at 332.

C. Deliberate Indifference to Medical Needs

A prison official's indifference to a prisoner's medical needs is actionable under the Eighth Amendment only if it "constitute[s] an unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain' or [is] repugnant to the conscience of mankind.'" Estelle v. Gamble , 429 U.S. 97, 105-106 (1976) (quoting Gregg v. Georgia , 428 U.S. 153, 173 (1976)). The claim has objective and subjective elements; the objective element (the "serious medical needs") weighs the seriousness of the medical condition, and the subjective element (the "deliberate indifference") requires a culpable state of mind-"the equivalent of criminal recklessness." Hathaway v. Coughlin , 99 F.3d 550, 553 ...


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