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Lawrence v. Rodak

United States District Court, W.D. New York

September 29, 2014

DEPUTY RODAK, Defendant.


FRANK P. GERACI, Jr., District Judge.

Pro Se Plaintiff Anthony Lawrence filed this action under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, alleging that Defendant Nicholas Rodak ("Rodak"), a Monroe County Sheriff's Office Deputy Jailor at the Monroe County Jail in Rochester, New York, violated his constitutional rights. Because the Plaintiff has failed to adduce facts that would entitle him to relief, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. #46) is granted, and this case is dismissed with prejudice.


On January 7, 2009, the Plaintiff was an inmate at the Monroe County Jail ("MCJ") in Rochester, New York. The Plaintiff arrived at MCJ four or five days prior to January 7, 2009, and that January 7, 2009 was the first date that the Plaintiff had been in the mezzanine gym at MCJ. Defendant Nicholas Rodak was a Deputy Jailor at MCJ and he was assigned to work in the mezzanine gym on January 7, 2009. Prior to January 7, 2009, the Plaintiff and Rodak never had any prior dealings or encounters with each other.

At some point on January 7, 2009, the Plaintiff was seated on a bench in the mezzanine gym. The Plaintiff was approached by another inmate, who punched the Plaintiff in the face. After being punched, the Plaintiff stood up, and ran towards the staff office in the gym - where Rodak was working - with three or four other inmates chasing the Plaintiff. The staff office was approximately 40 feet away from where the Plaintiff was assaulted.

When the Plaintiff approached the staff office, Rodak held out one of his hands to stop the Plaintiff from entering the office. The Plaintiff crashed into Rodak, and the other inmates crashed into the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff and Rodak fell to the floor, and landed inside the office. There were no other jail deputies working in the office at this time.

While on the floor, the Plaintiff was kicked and punched, but he does not know by whom. Rodak pushed a button in the staff office to call for emergency assistance from other deputies for a fight in progress, and shortly thereafter, Rodak sprayed the Plaintiff in the face with pepper spray. The Plaintiff could not estimate how long the spray lasted; Rodak stated that it was a short burst of approximately one second. After the pepper spray was used, other deputies arrived, and Rodak handcuffed the Plaintiff. As a result of being exposed to pepper spray, the Plaintiff's eyes were swollen and irritated for a couple of days.


A. Summary Judgment Standard

The standard for ruling on a summary judgment motion is well known. A party is entitled to summary judgment "if the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "[W]here the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, a summary judgment motion may properly be made in reliance solely on the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986) (internal quotation marks omitted).

When considering a motion for summary judgment, all genuinely disputed facts must be resolved in favor of the non-moving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). In order to establish a material issue of fact, the non-movant need only provide "sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute" such that a "jury or judge [is required] to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986) (quoting First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968)). Thus, the "purpose of summary judgment is to pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e) advisory committee's note on 1963 amendments). If, after considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the Court finds that no rational jury could find in favor of that party, a grant of summary judgment is appropriate. Scott, 550 U.S. at 380 (citing Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586-587).

Because the Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, his pleadings are held to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, " Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted), and are interpreted "to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Fulton v. Goord, 591 F.3d 37, 43 (2d Cir. 2009). It nevertheless remains the pro se litigants responsibility to make "specific allegations of fact indicating a deprivation of rights, instead of a litany of general conclusions that shock but have no meaning." Barr v. Abrams, 810 F.2d 358, 363 (2d Cir. 1987).

B. Failure to Protect

Plaintiff alleges that Rodak failed to protect him when he was being chased by other inmates, and that Rodak's action of preventing the Plaintiff from entering the office before calling for assistance ...

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