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Coles v. Ruiz

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 30, 2019

SHAWN A. COLES, Plaintiff,
DR. RUIZ, et al. Defendants.


          Alvin W. Thompson United States District Judge

         On October 23, 2017, the plaintiff, Shawn A. Coles, an inmate currently confined at the Willard-Cybulski Correctional Institution in Enfield, Connecticut, filed a complaint pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking damages and injunctive relief against five Department of Correction (“DOC”) officials: Dr. Ricardo Ruiz, Nurse Stephanie, Nurse Shonte Haley, [1] Nurse Jane Ventrella, and Dr. Monica Farinella. Compl. [Doc.#1]. The plaintiff claimed that the defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by acting with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The court permitted his Eighth Amendment claim to proceed against all five defendants. Initial Review Order [Doc.#7] 9-10.

         Since the court issued the Initial Review Order, the plaintiff has filed two amended complaints. Am. Compl. [Doc.#21]; Second Am. Compl. [Doc.#41]. The defendants answered the first amended complaint. Answer [Doc.#30].

         On December 14, 2018, the defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment arguing that the evidence fails to create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether they acted with deliberate indifference to the plaintiff's medical needs. For the following reasons, the court is granting the defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         I. Legal Standard

         In a motion for summary judgment, the burden is on the moving party to establish that there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and that it 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” and is “genuine” if “a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party” based on it. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); see also Dister v. Continental Group, Inc., 859 F.2d 1108, 1114 (2d Cir. 1988) (mere existence of alleged factual dispute will not defeat summary judgment motion). The moving party may satisfy this burden “by showing - that is pointing out to the district court - that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” PepsiCo, Inc. v. Coca-Cola Co., 315 F.3d 101, 105 (2d Cir. 2002) (per curium) (internal quotations omitted; citations omitted).

         When a motion for summary judgment is supported by documentary evidence and sworn affidavits and “demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, ” the nonmoving party must do more than vaguely assert the existence of some unspecified disputed material facts or “rely on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation.” Robinson v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 781 F.3d 42, 44 (2d Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). The nonmoving party “must come forward with specific evidence demonstrating the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact.” Id.; see also First Nat. Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Service Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968) (nonmoving party must submit sufficient evidence supporting factual dispute that will require factfinder to resolve differing versions of truth at trial).

         In reviewing the record, the court must “construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and to draw all reasonable inferences in its favor.” Gary Friedrich Enters., L.L.C. v. Marvel Characters, Inc., 716 F.3d 302, 312 (2d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). If there is any evidence from which a reasonable factual inference could be drawn in favor of the non-moving party for the issue on which summary judgment is sought, then summary judgment is improper. See Security Ins. Co. of Hartford v. Old Dominion Freight Line Inc., 391 F.3d 77, 83 (2d Cir. 2004).

         Where one party is proceeding pro se, the court must read his papers liberally and interpret them “to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.” Willey v. Kirkpatrick, 801 F.3d 51, 62 (2d Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Despite this liberal interpretation, however, “[u]nsupported allegations do not create a material issue of fact” and cannot overcome a properly supported motion for summary judgment. See Weinstock v. Columbia Univ., 224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 540 U.S. 811 (2003).

         II. Facts

         The court draws the following facts from the defendants' Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement (“Defs.' Stmt.”) [Doc.#48-4], the plaintiff's Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement (“Pl.'s Stmt.”) [Doc.#55], and the exhibits submitted by both parties.

         On March 13, 2017, the plaintiff sustained an injury to his foot while playing basketball at the Cheshire Correctional Institution. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 1; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 1; Pl.'s Ex. G [Doc.#41 at 31]. Later that day, he was taken to the medical unit where he was evaluated by Nurse Haley. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 4; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 4. Nurse Haley gave the plaintiff ice and Motrin for his pain and ordered x-rays for his foot. Defs.' Stmt. ¶¶ 5-6; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 5-6. She entered an order for 200 milligrams of Ibuprofen. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 7; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 7.

         Two days later, the plaintiff was evaluated by Dr. Ruiz. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 8; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 8. Ruiz ordered crutches and a bottom bunk pass for the plaintiff; Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 8; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 8; Aff. of Ricardo Ruiz, MD (“Ruiz Aff.”) [Doc.#48-3] ¶ 4; the plaintiff contends that he only had crutches for twelve days. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 8. Ruiz also ordered a five-day Motrin regimen for the plaintiff, but the plaintiff claims that he never received the medication. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 9; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 9.

         On March 27, 2017, multiple x-rays were taken of the plaintiff's foot. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 10; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 10; Medical Records, Defs.' Attach. A. [Doc.#49 at 12]. The x-rays showed a slightly distracted rotated fracture of the base of the plaintiff's fifth ...

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