United States District Court, W.D. New York
William Crenshaw, Plaintiff, Pro se, Auburn, NY, USA.
For James Hartman Sgt, Dennis Mccaione Co, M Mccall Co, Pat Connolly Food Admin, Richard Hamilton Co, Sergeant Brown, Defendants: Maritza C Buitrago, Office of New York State Attorney General, Rochester, NY, USA.
DECISION AND ORDER
DAVID G. LARIMER, United States District Judge.
Plaintiff William Crenshaw, appearing pro se, commenced this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff, who is an inmate in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (" DOCCS" ), has alleged that defendant Officer Hamilton used excessive force against him on August 17, 2007, in violation of plaintiff's rights under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Plaintiff originally filed suit against seventeen defendants, alleging a variety of claims. The claims against all defendants other than Hamilton have been dismissed. Hamilton now moves for summary judgment, dismissing the claim against him. Plaintiff opposes the motion, and has also moved for leave to file an amended complaint.
Hamilton contends that the record does not support plaintiff's allegation that Hamilton used force against him in the alleged incident on August 17, 2007. In support of his motion, Hamilton relies on Jeffreys v. City of New York, 426 F.3d 549 (2d Cir. 2005), in which the Court of Appeals stated that " in the rare circumstance where the plaintiff relies almost exclusively on his own testimony, much of which is contradictory and incomplete," the district court may " mak[e] some assessment of the plaintiff's account," and may grant summary judgment for the defendant if the defendant succeeds in " demonstrating that there is no evidence in the record upon which a reasonable factfinder could base a verdict in the plaintiff's favor." Id. at 554.
Having reviewed the record, I agree with defendant that this is such a " rare circumstance." Not only does plaintiff rely solely on his own testimony, but that testimony is contradicted by the record.
Plaintiff's initial complaint did not name Hamilton as a defendant, nor did plaintiff's prior administrative complaint allege any use of force by Hamilton. Plaintiff did not allege Hamilton's use of force until months after the incident in question. His initial complaints, both administrative and in this Court, alleged only that Hamilton had " set [him] up with a weapon on 8-17-07." Dkt. #1 at 17. Not until June 2008 did plaintiff allege that Hamilton had punched and kicked him. See Dkt. #3 at 2. There is also no evidence that plaintiff sought medical treatment for any alleged injuries in August 2007. See Def. Appx. Ex. A (Dkt. #128-2). Defendant Hamilton also flatly denies using any force against plaintiff (other than a simple pat frisk), and there is no evidence to corroborate plaintiff's belated assertion that Hamilton assaulted him.
The Court is well cognizant of the need to avoid weighing the credibility of the parties at the summary judgment stage. See Jeffreys, 426 F.3d at 554. But as the Second Circuit has recognized, there will be occasions when the record is so bereft of evidence, apart from the plaintiff's own self-serving and contradictory testimony, that the court has no choice but to make some assessment of whether the plaintiff's allegations are credible enough for a jury to find in his favor. Id. As stated, I find this to be such a case.
For the reasons stated, I also find plaintiff's allegations to be so inherently unworthy of credence that no reasonable jury could render a verdict in his favor. Accordingly, Hamilton is entitled to summary judgment. See Caldwell v. Gettmann, 09-CV-580, 2012 WL 1119869, at *6 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 2, 2012) (invoking Jeffreys exception and granting summary judgment against excessive force claim where video evidence and medical records contradicted ...