United States District Court, S.D. New York
NANCY LARA-GRIMALDI, individually and as Administratrix of Estate of Alexandra Grimaldi, Plaintiff,
COUNTY OF PUTNAM, DONALD SMITH, KAREN JACKSON, A. VILLANI, STEPHEN NAPOLITANO, CRIS STEWART, JOHN AND JANE DOES, et al., Defendants.
M. Szczepanski, Esq. Beldock Levine & Hoffman LLP New
York, NY Counsel for Plaintiff.
A. Randazzo, Esq. Portale Randazzo LLP White Plains, NY
Counsel for Defendants County Of Putnam, Donald Smith, Karen
Jackson, A. Villani, and Stephen Napolitano.
W. Sumner, Esq. Morris Duffy Alonso & Faley New York, NY
Counsel for Defendants County Of Putnam, Donald Smith, Karen
Jackson, A. Villani, and Stephen Napolitano.
Jonathan E. Symer, Esq. Law Offices of James A. Steinberg
Poughkeepsie, NY Counsel for Defendant Christopher Stewart.
A. Fischer, Esq. Steinberg & Symer, LLP Poughkeepsie, NY
Counsel for Defendant Christopher Stewart.
OPINION & ORDER
KENNETH M. KARAS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Nancy Lara-Grimaldi (“Plaintiff”), individually
and as Administratrix of the Estate of Alexandra Grimaldi
(“Grimaldi”), brings the instant Action against
the County of Putnam (“Putnam County”), Putnam
County Sheriff Donald Smith (“Smith”), Sergeant
Karen Jackson (“Jackson”), Correction Officer A.
Villani (“Villani”), Correction Officer Steven
Napolitano (“Napolitano, ” and together
“County Defendants”), and Nurse Christopher
Stewart (“Stewart, ” and together with County
Defendants, “Defendants”), for wrongful death of
Grimaldi. (See generally Compl. (Dkt. No.
Plaintiff brings eight claims: (1) federal claims under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against Smith, Jackson, Villani,
Napolitano, and Stewart (together, “Individual
Defendants”) for violations of Plaintiff's First,
Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment Rights; (2) federal claims
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Putnam County for the
aforementioned Constitutional violations; (3) federal claims
against Putnam County for violations of Title II of the ADA,
42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, and the Rehabilitation
Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794; (4) state law wrongful death
claims against the Individual Defendants; (5) state
constitutional law claims under Article I § 12 against
the Individual Defendants; (6) state law negligence claims
against the Individual Defendants; (7) state law claims of
negligent hiring, training, and supervision against Putnam
County; and (8) state law respondeat superior claims against
Putnam County. (See generally id.)
the Court is Stewart's Motion To Dismiss the Complaint
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (the
“Stewart Motion”), (see Dkt. No. 31;
Def. Stewart's Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. To Dismiss
(“Def. Stewart's Mem.”) (Dkt. No. 32)), and
County Defendants' Motion To Dismiss the Complaint
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (the
“County Defendant's Motion”), (see
Dkt. No. 34; Cty. Defs.' Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. To.
Dismiss (“Cty. Defs.' Mem.”) (Dkt. No. 36)).
reasons that follow, the Motions are granted in part and
denied in part.
following facts are taken from the Complaint and are accepted
as true for the purposes of this Motion. At the time of the
events described herein, Grimaldi was a pre-trial detainee at
Putnam County Correctional Facility (“PCCF”).
(See Compl. ¶¶ 34, 84(a).)
resided in the Town of Carmel, County of Putnam in New York
State. (Id. ¶ 8.) According to Plaintiff,
Grimaldi's mother and Administratrix of the Estate of
Alexandra Grimaldi, (id. ¶ 9), “Grimaldi
began struggling with an opioid addiction in or about 2012,
” (id. ¶ 27). Her “first arrest for
heroin possession occurred in Putnam County in or about
2012.” (Id. ¶ 28.) “Grimaldi was
subsequently arrested on approximately five other occasions
for heroin possession and/or possession of a hypodermic
needle.” (Id. ¶ 29.) “Grimaldi had
been detained at PCCF on at least three prior occasions, most
recently in December 2014.” (Id. ¶ 37.)
Sadly, on October 28, 2015, Grimaldi hanged herself in her
cell at PCCF. (Id. ¶ 2.) She was 23 years old.
(Id. ¶ 8.)
October 27, 2015, at approximately 3:30 p.m., after having
lunch with her father, her aunt, and her uncle, . . .
Grimaldi was waiting outside of her father's home for a
cab when an unmarked Town of Kent Police Department car
arrived.” (Id. ¶ 30.) “[T]he
officers had a warrant for . . . Grimaldi's arrest for
violating the terms of her probation.” (Id.
¶ 31.) During a search incident to the arrest, the
officers “found a hypodermic needle and a bag of
marijuana.” (Id. ¶ 32.) Grimaldi was
charged with violating the terms of her probation, possession
of a hypodermic needle, and criminal possession of marijuana.
(Id. ¶ 33.) After being taken into custody,
Grimaldi was transported to the Kent Justice Court, where she
was arraigned and remanded to PCCF. (Id. ¶ 34.)
Upon arrival at PCCF, Grimaldi was sent to the Putnam
Hospital Center (“PHC”) “to receive
treatment for a knee injury she sustained prior to being
taken into custody.” (Id. ¶ 35.)
Following treatment, she “was transported back to PCCF,
where she was processed.” (Id. ¶ 36.)
PCCF, Napolitano conducted an intake interview of Grimaldi.
(Id. ¶ 42.) Plaintiff alleges that
“[u]pon information and belief . . . Grimaldi told . .
. Napolitano that she had previously attempted suicide, that
she injected heroin within the last day, and that she
suffered from mental health issues, including bipolar
disorder.” (Id. ¶ 43.) During the
interview, Napolitano filled out New York State Commission of
Correction Screening Guidelines (“Screening
Guidelines”) Form 330 ADM. (See Decl. of James
A. Randazzo, Esq. (“Randazzo Decl.”) Ex. B
(“Form 330 ADM”), at 1 (Dkt. No.
35).) In “Column A, ” Napolitano
checked boxes indicating Grimaldi had a “history of
drug or alcohol abuse, ” noting heroin was last used on
“10/26;” a “history of counseling or mental
health evaluation/treatment, ” noting
“bi-polar;” and “previous suicide attempt,
” noting it was “4 yrs ago.” (Id.)
“Napolitano recommended ‘routine supervision'
for . . . Grimaldi while she was incarcerated at PCCF.”
(Compl. ¶ 44; see also Form 330 ADM, at
Jackson then reviewed the intake form and suicide prevention
form prepared by Napolitano and allegedly “concurred
with Napolitano's recommendation to provide . . .
Grimaldi with ‘routine supervision, ' despite
knowing that . . . Grimaldi informed . . . Napolitano that
she had previously attempted suicide, suffered from mental
health issues, and had recently injected heroin.”
(Compl. ¶ 45.) Grimaldi was then examined by Stewart.
(Id. ¶ 46.) Plaintiff alleges “Stewart
also agreed with . . . Napolitano's recommendation for
‘routine supervision, ' despite knowing that . . .
Grimaldi informed . . . Napolitano that she had previously
attempted suicide, suffered from mental health issues, and
had recently injected heroin.” (Id. ¶
47.) Plaintiff asserts that the “grossly inadequate
response to . . . Grimaldi's need for a heightened form
of supervision as a result of her previous suicide attempt,
mental health issues, and recent drug use constitutes a
policy of deliberate indifference to serious
medical/psychiatric needs of incarcerated people at PCCF and
ultimately resulted in her suicide.” (Id.
contends that “[d]uring previous detentions at PCCF,
when . . . Grimaldi reported the same physical and mental
health conditions, she was placed on a heightened supervision
schedule.” (Id. ¶ 41.) Plaintiff also
alleges “[u]pon information and belief, the PCSD
[“Putnam County Sheriff's Department”]
Correction Officers working at PCCF knew . . . Grimaldi and
knew that she struggled with opioid addiction and mental
health issues, including bipolar disorder.”
(Id. ¶ 38.) Additionally, “Grimaldi's
case file at PCCF included information about her previous
arrests for possession of heroin and/or a hypodermic needle,
her mental health issues, which included a bipolar disorder
diagnosis, and information about her previous suicide
attempt.” (Id. ¶ 39.) And,
“[d]ocuments from . . . Grimaldi's prior
incarcerations at PCCF include handwritten medical requests
made by . . . Grimaldi that state, ‘NEED MEDS GOING
CRAZY!, ' ‘HELP ME!, ' and ‘CAN'T
SLEEP! NEED MY MEDS! PLEASE! ASAP!'” (Id.
at ¶ 40.)
next day, on October 28, 2015, Villani allegedly
“reviewed . . . Grimaldi's charges and case file
while completing an ‘Inmate Classification Points
Sheet.'” (Id. ¶ 49.) Plaintiff avers
that “Villani did not properly calculate . . .
Grimaldi's classification, which resulted in a higher
score.” (Id. ¶ 50.) According to
Plaintiff, had Villani properly calculated Grimaldi's
“prior misbehavior and disciplinary infractions at
PCCF, she would have received a lower classification score
and additional supervision from correction officers.”
(Id. ¶ 51.)
contends that “in the late morning or early afternoon
of October 28th . . . Grimaldi began to suffer from heroin
withdrawal symptoms.” (Id. ¶ 52.)
Allegedly, “in the early afternoon . . . Grimaldi cried
out for help to PCSD Correction Officers who were monitoring
her area of the PCCF, but those calls went unanswered.”
(Id. ¶ 53.) Plaintiff alleges “[u]pon
information and belief, the withdrawal symptoms . . .
Grimaldi experienced were treatable if they had been acted
upon by PCSD Correction Officers and/or PCCF medical
officials.” (Id. ¶ 54.) However,
“the PCCF Correction Officers and medical officials did
nothing to address [Grimaldi's] withdrawal
symptoms.” (Id. ¶ 55.)
approximately 3:20 p.m., . . . Grimaldi hanged herself on her
cell bars with a bedsheet that was issued to her by
PCCF.” (Id. ¶ 56.) “[A]t least
15-20 minutes later, PCSD officers found . . . Grimaldi,
unresponsive, hanging from the cell bars with a bedsheet
issued by PCCF tied around her neck.” (Id.
¶ 57.) Plaintiff alleges that “PCSD Correction
Officers did not check on . . . Grimaldi for a significant
length of time prior to finding her hanging from her cell
bars.” (Id. ¶ 58.)
finding . . . Grimaldi . . . PCSD Correction Officers untied
the bedsheet.” (Id. ¶ 59.)
“Grimaldi was not breathing and her heart was not
beating.” (Id. ¶ 60.) PCSD Correction
Officers then “provided lifesaving procedures, ”
which “were successful in resuscitating”
Grimaldi, and “made a call for Emergency Medical
Technicians.” (Id. ¶¶ 61-62.)
Grimaldi was transported to PHC by ambulance and placed in
the Intensive Care Unit “where she was connected to a
respirator to assist with her breathing and [a] tube was
inserted into her trachea.” (Id. ¶¶
63-64.) “At PHC, several PCSD Officers were stationed
in . . . Grimaldi's room and the area directly outside
her room, ” (id. ¶ 67), and “[a]t
least one officer interfered with family members' access
to . . . Grimaldi and refused to move in order to allow
access to her bedside, ” (id. ¶ 68).
about November 1, 2015, Grimaldi was transferred from PHC to
Westchester Medical Center (“WMC”), (id.
¶ 72), where she “was slowly taken off of the
respirator and was able to breathe on her own, ”
(id. ¶ 73). On or about December 18, 2015,
Grimaldi was transferred to Helen Hayes Rehabilitation
Hospital, (id. ¶ 74), where “the tube
that had been inserted into . . . Grimaldi's trachea at
PHC was removed, ” (id. ¶ 75). In or
about late January or early February 2016, Grimaldi was moved
to Tarrytown Hall Care Center. (Id. ¶ 76.)
“On or about May 13, 2016, . . . Grimaldi passed away
at WMC as a direct result of the injuries she sustained at
PCCF.” (Id. ¶ 77.)
alleges that “approximately four days after . . .
Grimaldi was found hanging in her cell, another female
detainee attempted suicide at PCCF.” (Id.
¶ 78.) Plaintiff avers that “the supervision
provided at PCCF is deliberately indifferent to the physical
and mental health needs of the people incarcerated at the
correctional facility and, as a result, two incarcerated
people have recently attempted suicide.” (Id.
seeks “compensatory damages for . . . Grimaldi's
wrongful death, psychological and emotional distress, and
other financial loss caused by” Defendants' alleged
actions, “punitive damages to deter such intentional or
reckless deviations from well settled constitutional law,
” and “costs and attorney's fees.”
(Id. ¶ 3.) Plaintiff alleges that
“Defendants' conduct caused . . . Grimaldi to
suffer physical, mental, emotional and financial injuries,
deprived her of her constitutional rights, resulted in her
wrongful death, and resulted in the loss of decedent's
familial relationships, comfort, protection, companionship,
love, affection, solace, and moral support.”
(Id. ¶ 80.) In addition to these damages,
Plaintiff also asserts she entitled to recover the reasonable
value of funeral and burial expenses. (Id.)
filed the instant Complaint on January 26, 2017.
(See Compl.) On May 18, 2017, Stewart sought leave
to file a Motion To Dismiss. (See Dkt. No. 25.)
Plaintiff filed a letter in opposition. (See Dkt.
No. 26.) On June 2, 2017, County Defendants sought leave to
file a Motion To Dismiss. (See Dkt. No. 28.)
Plaintiff again filed a letter in opposition. (See
Dkt. No. 29.) The Court held a premotion conference on June
8, 2017 and adopted a Scheduling Order for Stewart's and
County Defendants' Motions. (See Dkt. No. 30.)
Pursuant to the Scheduling Order, on July 27, 2017, Stewart
filed his Motion To Dismiss and accompanying Memorandum of
Law and declaration, (see Dkt. No. 31; Def.
Stewart's Mem.; Decl. Jonathan E. Symer, Esq.
(“Symer Decl.”) ¶ 13 (Dkt. No. 32)), and on
July 28, 2017, County Defendants filed their Motion To
Dismiss and accompanying Memorandum of Law, declaration, and
exhibits, (see Dkt. No. 34; Cty. Defs.' Mem.;
Randazzo Decl.). On September 15, 2017, Plaintiff filed
Memorandums of Law in Opposition to County Defendants'
and Stewart's Motion. (See Pl.'s Mem. Law in
Opp. to Cty. Defs.' Mot. To. Dismiss (“Pl.'s
Cty. Defs.' Mem.”) (Dkt. No. 38)); Pl.'s Mem.
Law in Opp. to Def. Stewart's Mot. To. Dismiss
(“Pl.'s Stewart Mem.”) (Dkt. No. 39)). On
October 6, 2017, County Defendants and Stewart each filed a
Reply Memoranda of Law. (See Cty. Defs.' Reply
Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. To. Dismiss (“Cty.
Defs.' Reply Mem.”) (Dkt. No. 41); Def.
Stewart's Reply Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. To. Dismiss
(“Def. Stewart's Reply Mem.”) (Dkt. No. 42).)
Standard of Review
Supreme Court has held that although a complaint “does
not need detailed factual allegations” to survive a
motion to dismiss, “a plaintiff's obligation to
provide the grounds of his [or her] entitlement to relief
requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555 (2007) (alteration and internal quotation marks omitted).
Indeed, Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
“demands more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
“Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked
assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.”
Id. (alteration and internal quotation marks
omitted). Rather, a complaint's “[f]actual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555. Although “once a claim has been stated adequately,
it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent
with the allegations in the complaint, ” id.
at 563, and a plaintiff must allege “only enough facts
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face,
” id. at 570, if a plaintiff has not
“nudged [his] claims across the line from conceivable
to plausible, the complaint must be dismissed, ”
id.; see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679
(“Determining whether a complaint states a plausible
claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense. But where the well-pleaded facts
do not permit the court to infer more than the mere
possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it
has not ‘show[n]'-'that the pleader is entitled
to relief.'” (second alteration in original)
(citation omitted) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)));
id. at 678-79 (“Rule 8 marks a notable and
generous departure from the hypertechnical, code-pleading
regime of a prior era, but it does not unlock the doors of
discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than
ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must
accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in
the complaint, ” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007), and “draw all reasonable inferences in
favor of the plaintiff, ” Daniel v. T & M Prot.
Res., Inc., 992 F.Supp.2d 302, 304 n.1 (S.D.N.Y. 2014)
(citing Koch v. Christie's Int'l PLC, 699
F.3d 141, 145 (2d Cir. 2012)). Additionally, “[i]n
adjudicating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a district court must
confine its consideration to facts stated on the face of the
complaint, in documents appended to the complaint or
incorporated in the complaint by reference, and to matters of
which judicial notice may be taken.” Leonard F. v.
Isr. Disc. Bank of New York, 199 F.3d 99, 107 (2d Cir.
1999) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Wang
v. Palmisano, 157 F.Supp.3d 306, 317 (S.D.N.Y. 2016)
First Cause of Action - Deliberate Indifference Claims
Against Individual Defendants
Grimaldi was a pre-trial detainee rather than a convicted
prisoner at the time she was denied adequate medical care,
(see Compl. ¶¶ 34, 84(a)), Plaintiff's
claim falls under “the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment, rather than the Cruel and Unusual
Punishments Clause of the Eight[h] Amendment, ”
Darnell v. Pineiro, 849 F.3d 17, 29 (2d Cir.
2017). A pre-trial detainee's rights are
“at least as great as the Eighth Amendment protections
available to a convicted prisoner.” Id.
(quoting City of Revere v. Mass. Gen. Hosp., 463
U.S. 239, 244 (1983)).
in custody, a pretrial detainee has a Fourteenth Amendment
substantive due process right to care and protection,
including protection from suicide' resulting from a
preexisting mental health disorder.” Case v.
Anderson, No. 16-CV-983, 2017 WL 3701863, at *8
(S.D.N.Y. Aug. 25, 2017) (quoting Kelsey v. City of New
York, 306 F. App'x. 700, 702 (2d Cir. 2009)).
“‘A pretrial detainee may establish a § 1983
claim for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement'-such as the denial of mental health
care-‘by showing that the officers acted with
deliberate indifference to the challenged
conditions.'” Case, 2017 WL 3701863, at *8
(quoting Kelsey, 306 F. App'x. at 702). To
establish a claim for deliberate indifference to medical
needs under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment, a pre-trial detainee must establish two elements:
(1) that the “deprivation of medical care . . . [was]
‘sufficiently serious, '” and (2) that the
defendant “acted or failed to act with ‘a
sufficiently culpable state of mind.'” Smith v.
Outlaw, No. 15-CV-9961, 2017 WL 4417699, at *2 (S.D.N.Y.
Sept. 30, 2017) (quoting Salahuddin v. Goord, 467
F.3d 263, 279 (2d Cir. 2006); Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 834 (1994)).
first requirement is objective: the alleged deprivation of
adequate medical care must be sufficiently serious.”
Spavone v. New York State Dep't of Corr. Servs.,
719 F.3d 127, 138 (2d Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks
omitted). “There is no static test to determine whether
a deprivation is sufficiently serious; instead, the
conditions themselves must be evaluated in light of
contemporary standards of decency.” Darnell,
849 F.3d at 30 (internal quotation marks omitted). Analyzing
this objective requirement involves two inquiries:
“[t]he first inquiry is whether the prisoner was
actually deprived of adequate medical care, ”
Salahuddin, 467 F.3d at 279, and the second
“asks whether the inadequacy in medical care is
sufficiently serious. This inquiry requires the [C]ourt to
examine how the offending conduct is inadequate and what
harm, if any, the inadequacy has caused or will likely cause
the prisoner, ” id. at 280. To meet the
objective requirement, “the inmate must show that the
conditions, either alone or in combination, pose an
unreasonable risk of serious damage to his [or her]
health.” Walker v. Schult, 717 F.3d 119, 125
(2d Cir. 2013). “There is no settled, precise metric to
guide a court in its estimation of the seriousness of a
prisoner's medical condition.” Brock v.
Wright, 315 F.3d 158, 162 (2d Cir. 2003). Nevertheless,
the Second Circuit has presented the following non-exhaustive
list of factors to consider when evaluating an inmate's
medical condition: “(1) whether a reasonable doctor or
patient would perceive the medical need in question as
important and worthy of comment or treatment, (2) whether the
medical condition significantly affects daily activities, and
(3) the existence of chronic and substantial pain.”
Id. (quoting Chance v. Armstrong, 143 F.3d
698, 702 (2d Cir. 1998)); see also Morales v.
Fischer, 46 F.Supp.3d 239, 247 (W.D.N.Y. 2014) (same).
Generally, the condition must be “‘a condition of
urgency' that may result in ‘degeneration' or
‘extreme pain.'” Grimmett v. Corizon Med.
Assocs. of New York, No. 15-CV-7351, 2017 WL 2274485, at
* 3 (S.D.N.Y. May 24, 2017) (quoting Chance, 143
F.3d at 702)).
second requirement is the “mens rea
prong.” “Prior to the Second Circuit's
decision in Darnell, 849 F.3d 17, the second
element-whether the defendant acted with a sufficiently
culpable state of mind-was evaluated subjectively.”
Ryan v. Cty. of Nassau, No. 12-CV-5343, 2018 WL
354684, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 10, 2018) . However, in
Darnell, in light of the Supreme Court's
decision in Kingsley v. Henderickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466
(2015), the Second Circuit held that when a claim arises
under the Fourteenth Amendment, “the pretrial detainee
must prove that the defendant-official acted intentionally,
” in depriving adequate medical care “or
recklessly failed to act with reasonable care . . . even
though the defendant-official knew, or should have known,
that the condition posed an excessive risk to health or
safety.” Darnell, 849 F.3d at 35; see also
Ryan, 2018 WL 354684, at *3 (same); Charles v. Cty.
of Orange, New York, No. 16-CV-5527, 2017 WL 4402576, at
*10 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 29, 2017) (same). “In other words,
the second element of a deliberate indifference claim under
the Fourteenth Amendment ‘is defined objectively, '
and a plaintiff is not required to show subjective awareness
by the defendant that ‘[his] acts (or omissions) have
subjected the pre-trial detainee to a substantial risk of
harm.'” Ryan, 2018 WL 354684, at *3
(quoting Darnell, 849 F.3d at 35). Despite the
slightly lower standard articulated in Darnell,
which is akin to objective recklessness, “any §
1983 claim for a violation of due process requires proof of a
mens rea greater than mere negligence.” Smith,
2017 WL 4417699, at *3 (quoting Darnell, 849 F.3d at
36) (italics omitted); see also Ryan, 2018 WL
354684, at *3 (same); Grimmett, 2017 WL 2274485, at
*4 (same). “A detainee must prove that an official
acted intentionally or recklessly, and not merely
negligently.” Darnell, 849 F.3d at 36.
County Defendants Napolitano and Jackson
and Jackson concede that Plaintiff has plausibly pled the
objective element for purposes of the present Motion. (Cty.
Defs.' Mem. 5.) Napolitano and Jackson instead argue that
the mens rea prong has not been satisfied because
Grimaldi's statements to Napolitano regarding her recent
heroin use, bipolar disorder, and previous suicide attempt
did not establish that Grimaldi was at risk to attempt
suicide or require her to be placed on constant supervision,
and by following the Screening Guidelines, Napolitano's
and Jackson's decision to place Grimaldi on routine
supervision was reasonable under the circumstances. (See
Id. at 5-7; Cty. Defs.' Reply Mem. 1-5.)
does not allege Napolitano and Jackson intentionally deprived
Grimaldi of adequate medical care. However, Plaintiff has
plausibly alleged enough facts to suggest Napoitano and
Jackson “recklessly failed to act with reasonable care
. . . even though the defendant-official knew, or should have
known, that the condition posed an excessive risk to health
or safety.” Darnell, 849 F.3d at 35. Plaintiff
alleges that Napolitano assessed Grimaldi during the intake
interview, and was informed that Grimaldi had
“previously attempted suicide, suffered from mental
health issues, and had recently injected heroin.”
(See Compl. ¶¶ 42-43.) Plaintiff alleges
Jackson reviewed the intake form, which noted the previous
suicide attempt, mental health issues, and recent heroin use,
and concurred with Napolitano's recommendation. (See
id. ¶ 45; Form 330 ADM, at 1.) Napolitano and
Jackson, however, point out that Napolitano also noted that
Grimaldi did not show signs of depression, did not appear to
be anxious, panicked, afraid or angry, did not display
unusual behaviors, did not appear to be under the influence
of alcohol or drugs, and did not show signs of withdrawal.
(See Cty. Defs.' Mem. 6 (citing Form 330 ADM, at
1); Cty. Defs.' Reply Mem. 3-4.) Based on the information
Grimaldi provided, Napolitano and Jackson argue the Screening
Guidelines did not recommend anything above routine
supervision, and thus Napolitano's recommendation was
constitutionally firm. (See Cty. Defs.' Mem. 6;
Cty. Defs.' Reply Mem. 3-5.)
Darnell, the Court is faced with a difficult task.
It is called upon to determine, without the benefit of
medical expertise, whether an objectively reasonable person
in Defendant[s'] position would have known, or should
have known, that Defendant[s'] actions or omissions posed
an excessive risk of harm to [Grimaldi].” Davis v.
McCready, No. 14-CV-6405, 2017 WL 4803918, at *8
(S.D.N.Y. Oct. 23, 2017). The Court cannot find that
Plaintiff's claim that Napolitano and Jackson knew or
should have known of Griamldi's suicide risk based on the
information they had and that providing Grimaldi with only
routine supervision was not reasonable care, with all
reasonable inferences drawn in Plaintiff's favor, fails
to state a plausible claim for deliberate indifference.
See, e.g., Thomas v. Ashcroft, 470 F.3d
491, 497 (2d Cir. 2006) (reversing the dismissal of a
prisoner's complaint that alleged the defendants ignored
his serious medical needs despite being made aware of them);
Case, 2017 WL 3701863, at *11 (noting that the
“[p]laintiff has alleged that the officers involved at
each juncture had some level of awareness of [the
decedent's] mental illness. Thus, to provide no treatment
would be to ignore a serious medical need, and to delay
treatment would be to run the very risk of self-harm that
reasonably prompt treatment was designed to avoid.”
(citations omitted)); Silvera v. Connecticut Dep't of
Corr., 726 F.Supp.2d 183, 192 (D. Conn. 2010) (denying a
motion to dismiss despite “a disagreement about the
proper course of treatment, ” for mentally ill
pre-trial detainee because the defendants “recklessly
ignored the risk that [the decedent] would attempt to harm
himself”); Allah v. Kemp, No. 08-CV-1008, 2010
WL 1036802, at *6 (N.D.N.Y. Feb. 25, 2010), adopted
by 2010 WL 1035657 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 18, 2010) (denying a
Rule 12(c) motion, rejecting the defendants' arguments
that failure to take more affirmative steps to prevent the
plaintiff from attempting suicide was, at most, a mistake
“in their exercise of psychiatric judgment”
(internal quotation marks omitted)); Estate of Rodriguez
v. Simon, No. 06-CV-125, 2007 WL 2154238, at *5 (D. Vt.
Mar. 30, 2007), adopted sub nom. by 2007 WL 2107542
(D. Vt. July 19, 2007) (denying a motion to dismiss and
rejecting the defendants' argument that placing a
pretrial detainee on 15-minute checks, and nothing more, was
a reasonable response to the risk that the detainee would
Court does not doubt that individuals in the Defendants'
positions face difficult decisions on a daily basis regarding
how to respond appropriately to a detainee's serious
mental health needs.” Silvera, 726 F.Supp.2d
at 192. Moreover, it is axiomatic that if the evidence
demonstrates that the Napolitano and Jackson reacted
reasonably to Grimaldi informing them that she had mental
health issues, had used heroin, and previously attempted
suicide by following the Screening Guidelines and placing her
on routine supervision, they cannot be held liable for the
tragedy that ultimately transpired. See Farmer, 511
U.S. at 844-45 (noting that “prison officials who act
reasonably cannot be found liable”). Nonetheless, the
Court is unable to conclude at this early stage-and on the
basis of the Complaint alone-that the Napolitano and Jackson
were not deliberately indifferent to Grimaldi's serious
mental health needs. See Id. at 842 (“Whether
a prison official had the requisite knowledge of a
substantial risk is a question of fact subject to
demonstration in the usual ways . . . .”);
Chance, 143 F.3d at 703 (“Whether a course of
treatment was the product of sound medical judgment,
negligence, or deliberate indifference depends on the facts
of the case.”).
and Jackson argue that even if Plaintiff has stated a
substantive due process claim, they are nonetheless shielded
by qualified immunity. (Cty. Defs.' Mem. 11-13; Cty.
Defs.' Reply Mem. 6-7). “The doctrine of qualified
immunity protects government officials from liability for
civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate
clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of
which a reasonable person would have known.”
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009)
(internal quotation marks omitted). “[Qualified]
immunity protect[s] government's ability to perform its
traditional functions . . . by helping to avoid unwarranted
timidity in performance of public duties, ensuring that
talented candidates are not deterred from public service, and
preventing the harmful distractions from carrying out the
work of government that can often accompany damages
suits.” Filarsky v. Delia, 566 U.S. 377, 389-
90 (2012) (second alteration in original) (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted). Qualified immunity shields
a defendant from standing trial or facing other burdens of
litigation “if either (a) the defendant's action
did not violate clearly established law, or (b) it was
objectively reasonable for the defendant to believe that his
action did not violate such law.” Johnson v.
Newburgh Enlarged Sch. Dist., 239 F.3d 246, 250 (2d Cir.
2001) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Supreme Court has held that when evaluating an asserted
qualified immunity defense, a court may begin by examining
whether a reasonable officer in Defendants' position
would have believed his or her conduct would violate the
asserted constitutional right. See Pearson, 555 U.S.
at 236 (overruling Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194
(2001), and explaining that judges are no longer required to
begin by deciding whether a constitutional right was violated
but are instead “permitted to exercise their sound
discretion in deciding which of the two prongs of the
qualified immunity analysis should be addressed
first”). The Supreme Court has further instructed that
“[t]o be clearly established, a right must be
sufficiently clear that every reasonable official would [have
understood] that what he is doing violates that right. In
other words, existing precedent must have placed the
statutory or constitutional question beyond debate.”
Reichle v. Howards, 566 U.S. 658, 664 (2012) (second
alteration in original) (citations and internal quotation
marks omitted). Furthermore, “the right allegedly
violated must be established, not as a broad general
proposition, but in a particularized sense so that the
contours of the right are clear to a reasonable
official.” Id. at 665 (citations and internal
quotation marks omitted). Otherwise stated, to ...