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Wright v. Stewart

United States District Court, W.D. New York

January 9, 2018

EUGENE WRIGHT, Plaintiff,
v.
SHERYL STEWART, Attica Nurse, Defendant.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM M. SKRETNY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         In this action, pro se Plaintiff Eugene Wright alleges, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, that Defendant Sheryl Stewart, a nurse at Attica Correctional Facility, was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment when she knowingly administered him the wrong medicine, which allegedly caused him to suffer a stroke. Presently before this Court is Stewart's Motion to Dismiss, or alternatively, for Summary Judgment. (Docket No. 22.) For the following reasons, Stewart's motion is granted.

         II. BACKGROUND

         At all times relevant, Wright was an inmate at Attica Correctional Facility under the care and custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (“DOCCS”). (Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Facts (“Defendant's Statement”), Docket No. 22-2, ¶ 2.) Stewart was employed by DOCCS as a nurse at Attica. (Defendant's Statement, ¶ 3.)

         Wright maintains that Stewart administered him the wrong allergy medicine in August 2006, despite Wright informing her that she was not administering the correct medication. (Third Amended Complaint, Docket No. 7, p. 5.) Stewart allegedly refused to confirm that she was giving Wright the correct medication and instead allegedly told Wright that she would prepare a Misbehavior Report against him if he did not take the medication. (Id., p. 6.) Wright took the medicine as ordered and within 45 minutes suffered a stroke that hospitalized him for almost one month. (Id.)

         Approximately one year later, on August 8, 2007, Wright filed an Inmate Grievance form relating to this incident. (Third Amended Complaint, pp. 16-17.) That same day, inmate grievance officials at Attica sent Wright a memorandum indicating that his grievance was rejected as untimely. (Id., p. 18.) Wright then wrote simultaneously to the Superintendent of Attica and the Commissioner of DOCCS on August 20, 2007, to seek further review of his grievance. (Id., pp. 21, 22.) Notably, however, the Central Office Review Committee, which maintains all files of grievances and appeals received from Inmate Grievance Program Offices, contains no record of any grievance or appeals filed by Wright stemming from this incident. (Declaration of Jeffrey Hale, Docket No. 22-4, ¶¶ 4, 11.)

         III. DISCUSSION

         Cognizant of the distinct disadvantage that pro se litigants face, federal courts routinely read their submissions liberally, and interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S.Ct. 594, 596, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972); Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994). This is especially important when reviewing pro se complaints alleging civil rights violations. See Weinstein v. Albright, 261 F.3d 127, 132 (2d Cir. 2001). Since Wright is proceeding pro se, this Court has considered his submissions and arguments accordingly.

         Stewart moves to dismiss or for summary judgment on the grounds that (1) Wright failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, (2) Wright's claim is barred by the doctrines of collateral estoppel and res judicata, [1] and (3) Stewart is entitled to qualified immunity. Because the undisputed evidence establishes that Wright failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, dismissal of the complaint is required, and this Court need not reach Stewart's remaining grounds for relief.

         A. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriate 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). A fact is “material” if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). An issue of material fact is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the evidence and the inferences drawn from the evidence must be "viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Addickes v. S.H. Kress and Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59, 90 S.Ct.1598, 1609, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970). "Only when reasonable minds could not differ as to the import of evidence is summary judgment proper." Bryant v. Maffucci, 923 F.2d 979, 982 (2d Cir. 1991). Indeed, “[i]f, as to the issue on which summary judgment is sought, there is any evidence in the record from which a reasonable inference could be drawn in favor of the opposing party, summary judgment is improper.” Sec. Ins. Co. of Hartford v. Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., 391 F.3d 77, 82-83 (2d Cir. 2004) (citations omitted).

         But a “mere scintilla of evidence” in favor of the nonmoving party will not defeat summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. A nonmoving party must do more than cast a “metaphysical doubt” as to the material facts; it must “offer some hard evidence showing that its version of the events is not wholly fanciful.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); D'Amico v. City of N.Y.,132 F.3d 145, 149 (2d Cir. ...


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