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Miller v. Winchelle

United States District Court, N.D. New York

January 27, 2015

SEAN R. MILLER, Plaintiff,
MICHELLE WINCHELLE, et al., Defendants.

SEAN R. MILLER, Plaintiff pro se.

JAMES E. CULLUM, ESQ., Attorney for Defendant Rodenmayer.

JOHN D. ASPLAND, ESQ., Attorney for Defendant Winchelle.

WILLIAM A. SCOTT, ESQ., Attorney for Defendant Winchelle.


ANDREW T. BAXTER, Magistrate Judge.

The pro se civil rights complaint in this action, liberally construed, alleges that plaintiff, an inmate from Washington County Jail, was deprived of constitutionally adequate medical care by defendant Wade H. Rodenmayer - a physician's assistant who treated plaintiff at the Glens Falls Hospital emergency room in July 2013. (Compl., Dkt. No. 1 at 6, 8). On March 21, 2014, defendant Rodenmayer filed a motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (Dkt. No. 10), which was referred to me for Report-Recommendation by U.S. District Judge David N. Hurd. After reviewing the motion to dismiss, the response, the reply, and all the documents that were submitted in support of the briefs and plaintiff's complaint, I found it prudent to convert defendant's motion into one for summary judgment and allow both parties to supplement their papers accordingly. (Dkt. No. 49). Defendant filed additional materials in support of his motion on December 9, 2014, including extensive medical records. (Dkt. No. 50). Plaintiff has not submitted additional materials.

For the reasons set forth below, this court concludes that, based on the current record, no reasonable fact finder could conclude that defendant Rodenmayer was acting under color of state law when he treated plaintiff, or that he acted with deliberate indifference to plaintiff's serious medical needs. Accordingly, this court recommends granting defendant Rodenmayer's motion for summary judgment and dismissing plaintiff's claims against him.


I. Facts[1]

Plaintiff alleges that, after he arrived at Washington County Jail on May 5, 2013, he was denied his seizure medication. On July 11, 2013, plaintiff injured his finger while playing basketball at the Jail. (Dkt. No. 50 at 44). As a result of this injury, plaintiff was taken to the emergency room at Glens Falls Hospital on July 12, 2013.[2] Defendant Rodenmayer treated plaintiff for the injury to his finger. (Dkt. No. 50 at 45-46). X-rays were taken, plaintiff's finger was anesthetized, the dislocation was reduced, and his finger was placed in a splint. (Dkt. No. 50 at 46). While being treated for this injury, plaintiff alleges that he had a seizure that lasted two to three minutes. (Dkt. No. 1 at 6-7). The medical records indicate that while plaintiff's finger was being anesthetized, he had "a shaking type episode and a vasovagal type response." (Dkt. No. 50 at 46). Plaintiff "was able to communicate verbally during the entire episode." (Id.).

Plaintiff alleges that he had several other seizures while at the hospital, and, after his discharge, in the parking lot. The head nurse was consulted and decided that plaintiff would not be re-admitted to the hospital. (Dkt. No. 1 at 6-7). There is no indication that any of these other seizures occurred while plaintiff was being treated by defendant Rodenmayer, or that he was involved in the decision not to re-admit plaintiff.

II. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate where there exists no genuine issue of material fact and, based on the undisputed facts, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Salahuddin v. Goord, 467 F.3d 263, 272-73 (2d Cir. 2006). "Only disputes over ["material"] facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). It must be apparent that no rational finder of fact could find in favor of the non-moving party for a court to grant a motion for summary judgment. Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., 22 F.3d 1219, 1224 (2d Cir. 1994).

The moving party has the burden to show the absence of disputed material facts by informing the court of portions of pleadings, depositions, and affidavits which support the motion. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the moving party satisfies its burden, the nonmoving party must move forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Salahuddin v. Goord, 467 F.3d at 273. In that context, the nonmoving party must do more than "simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). However, in determining whether there is a genuine issue of material fact, a ...

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