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Flores v. The City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 31, 2017

FRANCISCO FLORES, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER

          WILLIAM H. PAULEY III, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Francisco Flores brings this federal civil rights action against the City of New York, alleging violations under the Eighth Amendment, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Flores claims that the City was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs during his incarceration at Rikers Island's Anna M. Kross Center (“AMKC”). The City moves for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the City's motion is granted and this action is dismissed.

         BACKGROUND

         Flores was incarcerated at AMKC from June 2013 to August 2015. (See Defendant's Rule 56.1 Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (“Def.'s 56.1 Stmt.”), EFC No. 52, ¶ 1.) Flores, an above-the-knee partial leg amputee, entered AMKC with a prosthesis and was housed on the first floor of the facility for the first ten months of his incarceration. (See Plaintiff's Rule 56.1 Counter-Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (“Pl.'s 56.1 Stmt.”), ECF No. 58, ¶ 4.) In late April 2014, he was housed temporarily for several days on AMKC's fourth floor due to flooding on the first floor. (Pl.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 5.) Thereafter, Flores was transferred back to the first floor and remained there until leaving the City's custody. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 6.)

         A. Flores's Medical Treatment at AMKC

         Between his admission to AMKC and the filing of this lawsuit on March 23, 2015, Flores attended forty-eight medical appointments at AMKC, visited sick call twenty times, attended thirty-two mental health therapy or counseling sessions, received twenty-eight appointments regarding his psychiatric medication, and visited the Bellevue Prosthetic Clinic sixteen times. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 14.) The records from these appointments consistently report that Flores was not in acute distress (see Declaration of James M. Dervin (“Dervin Decl.”), ECF No. 50, Ex. B at DEF303, 318, 416, 525, 555, 623, 669, 694) and was generally “well-appearing.” (Dervin Decl., Ex B at DEF252, 555, 669).

         The prosthesis that Flores had when he entered AMKC contained electrical hardware which, when not charged, would lock the device in an extended knee position. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 8.) For security reasons, the City did not allow Flores to charge the battery in his prosthesis and thus it became stuck in a locked position. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 10.) The medical records show that Flores was nonetheless ambulatory, although he walked slowly and with a wide gait. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 12.) The City provided a cane and crutches, which Flores used to walk to the law library and medical clinic at AMKC, as well as chairs with arm support for use in the prison showers. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 13; Dervin Decl., Ex. F ¶¶ 15-16.)

         Over the course of Flores's many visits to the Bellevue Prosthetic Clinic, specialists fitted him for a new, custom-built prosthetic leg. During this time, Flores fell in the shower at AMKC and injured his knee. (Dervin Decl., ExB at DEF317-18.) Although he was later diagnosed with a torn meniscus, his doctors saw no significant swelling and noted a normal range of motion. (Dervin Decl., Ex B at DEF272.) In March 2015 Flores received his custom-built prosthesis, but was dissatisfied because he wanted one more suitable for running and athletics. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 39.) Shortly after receiving the prosthesis, Flores reported that it had broken. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 41.) The specialist who fabricated the device informed AMKC medical staff that the prosthesis did not break as a result of normal usage and appeared to have been tampered with. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 41.)

         B. Flores's Housing at AMKC

         Non-ambulatory inmates are typically housed in the North Infirmary Command Annex (“North Infirmary”) at AMKC. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 49.) The decision to place an inmate in North Infirmary is within the exclusive discretion of the AMKC medical staff. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 50.) Nowhere in Flores's voluminous medical records is there any indication that AMKC medical professionals believed Flores required specialized housing in North Infirmary. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 51.) Flores contends that he was not transferred to North Infirmary because it was overcrowded. (Dervin Decl., Ex. A at 105:12-20.)

         While housed on AMKC's first floor, Flores had access to meals, commissary, recreational facilities, the law library, showers, toilets, and transportation to medical appointments and court appearances. (Dervin Decl., Ex. F ¶¶ 11-14.)

         C. Flores's Participation in the AMKC Grievance Process

         Flores claims to have filed two grievances related to his housing status. First, he alleges that he submitted a grievance in December 2013 requesting a transfer off of the fourth floor. (See Plaintiff's Exhibits, ECF No. 40, at 20.) Flores did not receive a receipt for this grievance and, although he testified that he followed up with another grievance and a letter to the warden, he has not submitted copies of any other paperwork in connection with this grievance. (Dervin Decl., Ex. A at 200:3-18; 201:2-4.)

         The second grievance was dated March 23, 2015-the same date that Flores signed the Complaint in this action. (Dervin Decl., Ex. C at 24.) In this grievance, Flores complained about his prosthesis and again requested a transfer to North Infirmary. (Dervin Decl., Ex. C at 24-25.) Flores testified that he tried to appeal this grievance by mailing simultaneous letters to the warden and Central Office Review Committee at AMKC. (Dervin Decl., Ex. A at 99:1-100:6.) The ...


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