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High v. Switz

United States District Court, N.D. New York

January 13, 2020

JAVON HIGH, Plaintiff,
PA SWITZ, Physicians Assistant, Ulster Correctional Facility, Defendant.

          JAVON HIGH Plaintiff, Pro Se.

          HON. LETITIA JAMES Attorney General of the State of New York Attorney for Defendants.

          ERIK BOULE PINSONNAULT, ESQ. Assistant Attorney General.


          Daniel J. Stewart United States Magistrate Judge.

         On September 25, 2017, pro se Plaintiff Javon High commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, asserting claims arising from his confinement at both Wyoming Correctional Facility and Ulster Correctional Facility, while in the custody of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (“DOCCS”). Dkt. No. 1, Compl. In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that he suffers from chronic, severe pain, for which he was prescribed certain medications and physical therapy. Compl. at p. 3. Plaintiff alleged that while at Ulster, he was seen by P.A. Switz, who told Plaintiff that he would not be getting the physical therapy or prescribed medications at Ulster, and that he could attempt to get this treatment when he got to his designated facility, which would not be for a month or two. Id. at pp. 4-5. Plaintiff alleges that he then went thirty-five days with severe pain before he was transferred to Wyoming. Id. at p. 6. Plaintiff alleged continuing issues related to his pain and treatment after he was transferred.[1] Id. at pp. 6-19. Remaining in this District are Plaintiff's claims arising out of his confinement at Ulster, which are only those against Defendant Genevieve Switz.

         Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. No. 32. In her Motion, Defendant warned Plaintiff of the potential consequences of his failure to respond to the Motion. Dkt. No. 32 at p. 3. Plaintiff's opposition was originally due on June 17, 2019. Dkt. No. 34. The Court notified Plaintiff of this deadline and also warned him of the consequences of failing to respond to the Motion. Id. Upon Plaintiff's failure to oppose to the Motion, the Court sua sponte extended the deadline to August 2, 2019, again warning Plaintiff of the possible consequences of his failure to respond and providing that no further extensions would be granted absent a showing of extraordinary circumstances. Dkt. No. 35. On July 8, 2019, Plaintiff submitted a motion for the appointment of counsel. Dkt. No. 36. The Court denied Plaintiff's Motion for counsel, but sua sponte granted Plaintiff a further extension of time to respond to the Motion, until August 30, 2019. Dkt. No. 37. Plaintiff has failed to submit any response to the Motion, and has not filed any further submissions of any kind to the Court.

         For the reasons that follow, the Court recommends Defendant's Motion be granted.


         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), summary judgment is appropriate only where “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” The moving party bears the burden to demonstrate through “pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with [ ] affidavits, if any, ” that there is no genuine issue of material fact. F.D.I.C. v. Giammettei, 34 F.3d 51, 54 (2d Cir. 1994) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)).

         To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the non-movant must set out specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial and cannot rest merely on allegations or denials of the facts submitted by the movant. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Scott v. Coughlin, 344 F.3d 282, 287 (2d Cir. 2003) (“Conclusory allegations or denials are ordinarily not sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment when the moving party has set out a documentary case.”); Rexnord Holdings, Inc. v. Bidermann, 21 F.3d 522, 525-26 (2d Cir. 1994). To that end, sworn statements are “more than mere conclusory allegations subject to disregard . . . they are specific and detailed allegations of fact, made under penalty of perjury, and should be treated as evidence in deciding a summary judgment motion” and the credibility of such statements is better left to a trier of fact. Scott v. Coughlin, 344 F.3d at 289 (citing Flaherty v. Coughlin, 713 F.2d 10, 13 (2d Cir. 1983) and Colon v. Coughlin, 58 F.3d 865, 872 (2d Cir. 1995)).

         When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant. Nora Beverages, Inc. v. Perrier Group of Am., Inc., 164 F.3d 736, 742 (2d Cir. 1998). “[T]he trial court's task at the summary judgment motion stage of the litigation is carefully limited to discerning whether there are any genuine issues of material fact to be tried, not to deciding them. Its duty, in short, is confined at this point to issue-finding; it does not extend to issue-resolution.” Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., Ltd. P 'ship, 22 F.3d 1219, 1224 (2d Cir. 1994). Furthermore, where a party is proceeding pro se, the court must “read [his or her] supporting papers liberally, and . . . interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.” Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994); see also Soto v. Walker, 44 F.3d 169, 173 (2d Cir. 1995). Nonetheless, summary judgment is appropriate “[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).


         To state an Eighth Amendment claim for denial of adequate medical care, a prisoner must demonstrate that prison officials acted with “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). “[T]he plaintiff must allege conduct that is ‘repugnant to the conscience of mankind' or ‘incompatible with the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.'” Ross v. Kelly, 784 F.Supp. 35, 44 (W.D.N.Y. 1992) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. at 102, 105-06). To state a claim for denial of medical care, a prisoner must demonstrate (1) a serious medical condition and (2) deliberate indifference. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834-35 (1994); Hathaway v. Coughlin (“Hathaway I”), 37 F.3d 63, 66 (2d Cir. 1994).

         The first prong is an objective standard and considers whether the medical condition is “sufficiently serious.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. at 834 (quoting Wilson v. Seiter,501 U.S. 294, 297 (1991)). A court must consider two inquiries in determining whether a deprivation of care is sufficiently serious. Salahuddin v. Goord,467 F.3d 263, 279 (2d Cir. 2006). First, the court must determine “whether the prisoner was actually deprived of adequate medical care.” Id. Medical care is adequate where the care provided is a “reasonable” response to the inmate's medical condition. Id. The second inquiry is “whether the inadequacy in medical care is sufficiently serious.” Id. at 280. In cases where there is a failure to provide any treatment, the court examines whether the inmate's medical condition is sufficiently serious. Smith v. Carpenter,316 F.3d 178, 185-86 (2d Cir. 2003). The Second Circuit has stated that a medical need is serious if it presents “a condition of urgency that may result in degeneration or extreme pain.” Chance v. Armstrong,143 F.3d 698, 702 (2d Cir. 1998) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Among the relevant factors to consider are “[t]he existence of an ...

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