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George v. Rockland State Psychiatric Center

United States District Court, S.D. New York

October 23, 2014

LLEWELLYN GEORGE, Plaintiff,
v.
ROCKLAND STATE PSYCHIATRIC CENTER; JAMES BOPP; EDWARD HERMAN; MICHELINE: JOSPITRI; SOSNUMOLU SHOYINKA; DARBY CALLAHAN; SAVANI NARGIS; CLAUDIA STEINBERG; DIANE POLHEMUS; AND IRENE MILLIKEN, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

NELSON S. ROMN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Llewellyn George ("Plaintiff') commenced this action on October 25, 2010, against Defendants Rockland Psychiatric Center ("Rockland"), s/h/a Rockland State Psychiatric Center; James Bopp, Edward Herman, Micheline Jospitri, Darby Callahan, Nargis Savani, s/h/a/ Savani Nargis, Claudia Steinberg, Diane Polhemus, and Irene Milliken (collectively, the "Individual Defendants"); and Sosnumolu Shoyinka, [1] alleging that Defendants violated his First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Defendant Rockland and the Individual Defendants now move, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, for summary judgment, asserting there is no genuine issue of material fact and that Defendants are entitled to judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

The facts are gleaned from the parties' 56.1 statements, [2] affidavits, and exhibits submitted with this motion and the pleadings and are not in dispute except where noted.

Defendant Rockland Psychiatric Center operates an outpatient treatment center called the White Plains Service Center ("WPSC") in White Plains, New York. Plaintiff received mental health treatment at WPSC on an outpatient basis between November 2009 and February 2011 as a condition of his parole, following his release from prison in November 2009. The Individual Defendants were therapists, psychiatrists, and other employees at WPSC and Rockland at the time that Plaintiff received treatment there.[3] In addition to receiving treatment from WPSC psychiatrists and therapists, including defendants Shoyinka, Callahan, Savani, and Steinberg, Plaintiff also received vocational training for a short period of time in WPSC's food service program under the supervision of defendants Milliken and Polhemus.

As a condition of Plaintiff's parole, WPSC provided updates on Plaintiff's treatment to his parole officer. On February 18, 2010, Defendant Callahan wrote to Plaintiff's parole officer. Plaintiff missed several appointments at WPSC and, in May 2010, Defendant Shoyinka alerted Plaintiff's parole officer that Plaintiff had missed his group therapy sessions for three weeks. Plaintiff sent a letter soon after to Defendant Jospitri complaining about Shoyinka's contact with his parole officer, but Plaintiff does not appear to have suffered any consequences related to the letters from WPSC staff to his parole officer.

In May 2010, Plaintiff's treatment team at WPSC recommended that Plaintiff receive a course of treatment that included medication, weekly appointments with his therapist and psychiatrist, and substance abuse treatment. Plaintiff's parole officer was notified of the treatment team's recommendation. Plaintiff alleged that he was required to attend a full-time drug treatment program, but testified that he did not, and was not forced to, attend the program. Plaintiff also alleged that Defendants attempted to force him to take psychotropic medication, but testified that he was never actually forced to do so.

As a result of outbursts by Plaintiff and his refusal to attend substance abuse treatment or take the medication prescribed by his treatment team, Plaintiff was limited to entering WPSC only when he had appointments with his therapist and psychiatrist. Plaintiff alleged that he was banned from WPSC in violations of his constitutional rights but Defendant avers, and Plaintiff's testimony supports, that he was not completely banned, but rather limited to entering the clinic when he had an appointment.

Plaintiff complained of alleged wrongs in writing to Defendants on several occasions. First, Plaintiff asserted in a May 7, 2010, letter to Defendant Jospitri that Defendant Shoyinka had tried to get him in trouble with his parole officer. Second, he complained to Dr. Mary Barber in a July 26, 2010, letter about being excluded from WPSC. Third, Plaintiff wrote to Defendant Bopp on August 24, 2010, asserting that Defendant Steinberg had barred him from entering WPSC and provided false accounts to his parole officer, and that Defendants Jospitri, Savani, and Steinberg were conspiring to force him to take psychiatric medication. Finally, Plaintiff wrote to Defendant Bopp a second time on August 30, 2010, alleging for the first time that he had been sexually harassed in February 2010 by defendants Milliken and Polhemus while he was participating in the food services program vocational training. The sexual harassment alleged by Plaintiff consists of "no more than three" instances in which Defendant Milliken rubbed up against Plaintiff and two or three times when Defendant Polhemus put her hand on Plaintiff's chest, behind and "private area." Plaintiff testified that he did not perceive some of these instances as sexual.

Plaintiff commenced this action on October 5, 2010, alleging violations of his First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. He seeks damages in the amount of fifty million dollars. Defendants filed the instant motion on April 9, 2014.

II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions for summary judgment. The Rule states, in pertinent part: "The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is 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). The moving party bears the initial burden of pointing to evidence in the record, "including depositions, documents... [and] affidavits or declarations, " Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A), "which it believes demonstrate[s] the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The moving party may also support an assertion that there is no genuine dispute by "showing... that [the] adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). If the moving party fulfills its preliminary burden, the onus shifts to the non-moving party, which must identify "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56); Bennett v. Watson Wyatt & Co., 136 F.Supp.2d 236, 244 (S.D.N.Y. 2001).

A genuine dispute of material fact exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; accord Benn v. Kissane, 510 F.App'x 34, 36 (2d Cir. 2014); Gen. Star Nat'l Ins. Co. v. Universal Fabricators, Inc., 585 F.3d 662, 669 (2d Cir. 2009); Roe v. City of Waterbury, 542 F.3d 31, 35 (2d Cir. 2008). Courts must "constru[e] the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw[] all reasonable inferences in its favor." Fincher v. Depository Trust & Clearing Corp., 604 F.3d 712, 720 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Allianz Ins. Co. v. Lerner, 416 F.3d 109, 113 (2d Cir. 2005)). In reviewing the record, "the judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, " nor is it to determine a witness's credibility. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249; see also Kaytor v. Elec. Boat Corp., 609 F.3d 537, 545 (2d Cir. 2010) ("The function of the ...


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