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Bowen v. Patrick

United States District Court, S.D. New York

August 4, 2014

JAMES R. BOWEN, Plaintiff,
v.
CAPT. ROBERT PATRICK et al., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

JESSE M. FURMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff James R. Bowen brings this action arising out of an incident that occurred during his detention at the Westchester County Jail. After earlier motion practice and the voluntary withdrawal of certain claims, Plaintiff's remaining claims, brought pursuant to Title 42, United States Code, Section 1983, are an excessive force claim against Defendant Robert Patrick and failure-to-intervene claims against Defendants Alvin Rogers, Anthony SanMarco, and Pamela Williams. Defendants now move for summary judgment on those claims. As explained below, the motion is GRANTED with respect to the claim against Defendant SanMarco but DENIED with respect to the claims against Defendants Patrick, Rogers, and Williams.

BACKGROUND

The following facts, taken from the Amended Complaint and the admissible materials submitted by the parties, are viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, as he is the non-moving party. See, e.g., Gould v. Winstar Commc'ns, Inc., 692 F.3d 148, 157-58 (2d Cir. 2012).

Plaintiff James Bowen was a pretrial detainee at the Westchester County Jail (the "WCJ") from December 22, 2008, through January 14, 2009. ( See Statement Material Facts Pursuant Local Rule 56.1 Submitted Supp. Defs.' Mot. Summ. J ("Defs.' Rule 56.1 Statement") (Docket No. 75) ¶ 13; Pl.'s Response to Defs.' Rule 56.1 Statement & Counterstatement ("Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Statement") (Docket No. 88) § A ¶ 13). On December 29, 2008, at approximately 11:22 a.m., while housed in the J2 dorm of the WCJ, Plaintiff fell from his top bunk onto the floor, footage of which was captured from afar by WCJ surveillance cameras. (Defs.' Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 14; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Statement § A ¶ 14; see also Defs.' Rule 56.1 Statement, Ex. G). Plaintiff remained on the floor for approximately ten minutes, at which point video footage shows him being wheeled out of the dorm in a wheelchair. (Defs.' Rule 56.1 Statement, Ex. G).

Plaintiff alleges that, following the fall, while he was on the floor, Defendant Robert Patrick assaulted him. (First Am. Compl. (Docket No. 29) ("Am. Compl.") ¶ 54). Specifically, the Amended Complaint alleges that Patrick, a Captain at the WCJ, applied a "wrist hold" to Plaintiff and "inflicted additional pain by twisting [Plaintiff's] wrist, " and "repeatedly kicked [Plaintiff's] injured back with a booted foot." (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 14, 54). In addition, the Amended Complaint alleges that a number of other WCJ officers, including Defendants Rogers, SanMarco, and Williams observed the assault and either failed to intervene or did so inadequately. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 15-16, 56, 60-61).

On July 12, 2011, Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit (Docket No. 1), and on August 8, 2011, Judge Richard J. Holwell, to whom the case was previously assigned, accepted the case as related to another case that was before him, Dilworth et al. v. Goldberg et al., 10-CV-2224 ( see 11-CV-4799, Minute Entry, August 1, 2011).[1] On November 21, 2011, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint, asserting claims against New York Medical College ("NYMC"), Westchester County, the Westchester County Health Care Corporation, and employees of Westchester County. (Docket No. 29). On March 5, 2012, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his claims against the Westchester County Health Care Corporation, his claims based on Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), and his Section 1983 conspiracy claim against Defendant Warden Charles Turner. (Docket No. 39). In addition, following motions to dismiss filed by NYMC and the Westchester County Defendants (Docket Nos. 30, 35), Magistrate Judge Gorenstein, to whom this action was referred for a Report and Recommendation, recommended dismissal of all claims asserted against NYMC and certain claims brought against the Westchester County Defendants. (Docket No. 45). This Court adopted that Report and Recommendation in full. (Docket No. 46).

At that point, the remaining claims in this action included a Section 1983 excessive-force claim against Defendant Patrick, and Section 1983 failure-to-intervene claims against Defendants Rogers, SanMarco, Williams, and others. ( See Mem. Law. Supp. Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. ("Defs.' Mem.") (Docket No. 76) 1 n.1.). On January 13, 2014, all the remaining Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment. (Docket No. 74). Although Plaintiff's opposition to the motion was due on January 27, 2014, Plaintiff failed to submit opposition by that deadline, and requested an extension of time two days later. (Docket No. 77). The Court granted Plaintiff an extension nunc pro tunc to February 7, 2014. (Docket No. 78). On February 5, 2014, Plaintiff requested an additional extension to February 14, 2014, which the Court granted on consent. (Docket No. 80, 81). Plaintiff requested and the Court granted one further extension, extending the deadline to February 24, 2014. (Docket Nos. 82, 83).

Remarkably, Plaintiff still failed to file the opposition papers on time, finally opposing Defendants' motion on March 3, 2014. (Docket Nos. 86-88).[2] In those papers, Plaintiff withdrew his failure-to-intervene claims against all Defendants other than Rogers, SanMarco, and Williams. ( See Pl.'s Response Defs.' Rule 56.1 Statement and Counterstatement (Docket No. 88) § B, ¶ 8 ("Plaintiff is pursuing only his claim of use of excessive force against Capt. Patrick (Count I), and his claim for [sic] failure to intervene claim against Sgt. Rogers, Sgt. SanMarco, and C.O. Williams (Count II)."). Accordingly, the only remaining claims are the excessive-force claim against Defendant Patrick and the failure-to-intervene claims against those three Defendants. Those claims are the object of the instant motion for summary judgment.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

The summary judgment standard is well established. Summary judgment is appropriate where the admissible evidence and the pleadings demonstrate "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); see also Johnson v. Killian, 680 F.3d 234, 236 (2d Cir. 2012) (per curiam). An issue of fact qualifies as genuine if the "evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); accord Roe v. City of Waterbury, 542 F.3d 31, 35 (2d Cir. 2008). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). "In moving for summary judgment against a party who will bear the ultimate burden of proof at trial, the movant's burden will be satisfied if he can point to an absence of evidence to support an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim." Goenaga v. March of Dimes Birth Defects Found., 51 F.3d 14, 18 (2d Cir. 1995) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23); accord PepsiCo, Inc. v. Coca-Cola Co., 315 F.3d 101, 105 (2d Cir. 2002).

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, all evidence must be viewed "in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, " Overton v. N.Y. State Div. of Military & Naval Affairs, 373 F.3d 83, 89 (2d Cir. 2004), and the court must "resolve all ambiguities and draw all permissible factual inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought, " Sec. Ins. Co. of Hartford v. Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., 391 F.3d 77, 83 (2d Cir. 2004). To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must advance more than a "scintilla of evidence, " Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252, and demonstrate more than "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, " Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The non-moving party "cannot defeat the motion by relying on the allegations in [its] pleading or on conclusory statements, or on mere assertions that affidavits supporting the motion are not credible." Gottlieb v. Cnty. of Orange, 84 F.3d 511, 518 (2d Cir. 1996) (citation omitted).

DISCUSSION

As noted, Plaintiff's claims are brought pursuant to Section 1983. Section 1983 provides a civil cause of action against a person who, acting under the color of state law, deprives another person of any of the rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983; see also Cornejo v. Bell, 592 F.3d 121, 127 (2d Cir. 2010). Plaintiff claims that Defendant Patrick violated his constitutional rights by using excessive force against him, and that Defendants ...


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