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Betts v. Rodriquez

United States District Court, S.D. New York

May 15, 2017

KENNETH BETTS, Plaintiff,
v.
IVAN RODRIQUEZ, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          J. PAUL OETKEN, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Kenneth Betts, proceeding pro se, filed the initial complaint in this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on May 7, 2015. (Dkt. No. 2.) Betts filed the first amended complaint, the operative complaint in this action, on January 12, 2016, naming as defendants Ivan Rodriquez, Kelthlyn Frederick, Glenda Wajer, Sergeant Ricardo Morrison, and the City of New York (collectively, “Defendants”). (Dkt. No. 20 (“Compl”).) In an Opinion and Order dated December 12, 2016, the Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' motion to dismiss. (Dkt. No. 75.) Defendants now move for summary judgment on Betts' remaining claims. (Dkt. No. 78.) For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Legal Standard

         “A document filed pro se is ‘to be liberally construed' . . . .” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). “The rule favoring liberal construction of pro se submissions is especially applicable to civil rights claims.” Cruz v. Midwood Ambulance & Oxygen Serv., Inc., 136 F.App'x 414, 415 (2d Cir. 2005) (citing Weixel v. Bd. of Educ., 287 F.3d 138, 146 (2d Cir. 2002)).

         A party is entitled to summary judgment where “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 fact is material if it “might affect the outcome of the suit.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). “A dispute is genuine if, considering the record as a whole, a rational jury could find in favor of the non-moving party.” Cohen Lans LLP v. Naseman, No. 14 Civ. 4045, 2017 WL 477775, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 3, 2017) (quoting Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586 (2009)).

         At the summary judgment stage, the party bearing the burden of proof at trial must provide evidence on each element of its claim or defense. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). “If the party with the burden of proof makes the requisite initial showing, the burden shifts to the opposing party to identify specific facts demonstrating a genuine issue for trial, i.e., that reasonable jurors could differ about the evidence.” Clopay Plastic Prods. Co. v. Excelsior Packaging Grp., Inc., No. 12 Civ. 5262, 2014 WL 4652548, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 18, 2014). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, courts view the evidence “in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party” and grant summary judgment only if “no reasonable trier of fact could find in favor of the nonmoving party.” Allen v. Coughlin, 64 F.3d 77, 79 (2d Cir. 1995) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         II. Discussion

         Familiarity with this dispute is presumed, and the facts of the case are detailed in the Court's prior Opinion and Order at the motion-to-dismiss stage. See Betts v. Rodriquez, No. 15 Civ. 3836, 2016 WL 7192088 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 12, 2016).

         In considering this motion, the Court relies on facts that are undisputed, and where facts are disputed and supported by evidence, takes those facts in the light most favorable to Betts.[1]

         At this stage, the only claims remaining are Betts' claims for excessive force and for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.

         Defendants argue that they are entitled to summary judgment on the deliberate indifference claim due to Betts' failure to show that he was denied adequate medical care. (Dkt. No. 79 at 10.) Defendants also argue that they are entitled to summary judgment on the excessive force claim because Betts has not adequately alleged Defendants' personal involvement. (Id. at 7.) The Court will address these issues in turn.

         A. Deliberate Indifference

         As the Court explained at the motion-to-dismiss stage:

In order to succeed on a deliberate indifference claim, a 1983 plaintiff must plead two elements. “The first requirement is objective: the alleged deprivation of adequate medical care must be sufficiently serious.” Salahuddin v. Goord, 467 F.3d 263, 279 (2d Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994)). Determining whether a deprivation is objectively serious demands two inquiries. “The first inquiry is whether the prisoner was actually deprived of adequate medical care. As the Supreme Court has noted, the prison official's duty is only to provide reasonable care.” Id. (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 844-47). “Second, the objective test asks whether the inadequacy in medical care is sufficiently serious.” Id. at 280. “Factors relevant to the seriousness of a medical condition include whether ‘a reasonable doctor or patient would find [it] important and worthy of comment, ' whether ...

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