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ROUSE v. PLANTIER

December 5, 1997

DARRYL ROUSE, CHARLES BROOKS, STEPHEN JANKOWSKI, JULIO BAEZ, and ROBERT KAMMERER, on behalf of a class of themselves and other similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
WILLIAM PLANTIER, WILLIAM H. FAUVER, DR. ROBERT CARDINALE, DR. NARSIMHA REDDY, ELAINE ALLEN, R.N., JOHN DOE, and JANE ROE, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ORLOFSKY

 ORLOFSKY, District Judge:

 On September 4, 1990, litigation over the medical treatment provided to diabetic inmates at the Adult Treatment and Diagnostic Center in Avenel, New Jersey began when Plaintiff, Darryl Rouse, filed a pro se complaint. *fn1" After seven years of litigation, Defendants, William Plantier, William H. Fauver, Dr. Robert Cardinale, Dr. Narsimha Reddy, and Elaine Allen, R.N., have now moved for summary judgment on the claims advanced by Plaintiffs, Darryl Rouse, Charles Brooks, Stephen Jankowski, Julio Baez, and Robert Kammerer. Plaintiffs' claim that they were subjected to "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution and that they were victims of impermissible discrimination on the basis of their disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq.

 For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment on the merits of Plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment claims will be denied as against Defendants, Plantier, Dr. Cardinale, Dr. Reddy, and Nurse Allen, and granted as against Defendant, Fauver. Defendants' motion for summary judgment on their defense of qualified immunity to Plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment claims will be denied as to Defendants, Plantier, Dr. Cardinale, Dr. Reddy, and Nurse Allen, and dismissed as moot as to Defendant, Fauver. Defendants' motion for summary judgment on their defense of qualified immunity to Plaintiffs' claim under the ADA will be granted as against all Defendants. Finally, Defendants' motion for summary judgment on the merits of the ADA claim will be dismissed as moot as to all Defendants.

 I. Facts and Procedural History

 The Plaintiffs were inmates at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center ("ADTC"), *fn2" a facility operated by the New Jersey Department of Corrections, located in Avenel, New Jersey. See Second Amended Complaint PP 1, 6-10 (dated Aug. 2, 1993) (hereinafter Second Amend. Compl.). *fn3" All of the Plaintiffs are diabetics, and represent a class of all former, present, and future insulin-dependent diabetic ADTC inmates. Id. at PP 1, 6-10, 17-18; Rouse v. Plantier, Civil Action No. 90-3511, slip op. at 27 (D.N.J. Mar. 26, 1996) (Bassler, J.) (certifying class of all former, present, and future insulin-dependent diabetics incarcerated at the ADTC, and a subclass of all former and present insulin-dependent diabetics incarcerated at the ADTC) (hereinafter Rouse II). *fn4"

 Defendant, William H. Fauver ("Fauver"), is Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections. *fn5" Second Amend. Compl. at P 11. Defendant, William Plantier ("Plantier"), is Acting Superintendent of ADTC. Id. at P 12. Defendant, Dr. Robert Cardinale ("Dr. Cardinale"), is Medical Director at ADTC. Id. at P 13. Defendant, Dr. Narsimha Reddy ("Dr. Reddy"), was a physician at ADTC. Id. at P 14. Defendant, Elaine Allen, R.N., ("Nurse Allen"), was formerly a nurse at ADTC with supervisory responsibilities. Id. at P 15. See also Defendants' Brief at 3; Plaintiffs' Brief in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment 3 (dated Sept. 8, 1997) (hereinafter Plaintiffs' Brief).

 Plaintiffs' first claim is that the medical care provided by ADTC to treat their diabetic conditions is "uniformly and grossly inadequate as to constitute deliberate indifference to serious medical needs in violation of the Eight [sic] Amendment to the United States Constitution." Second Amend. Compl. at P 2; see also id. at PP 3, 61-67. While not pled as such, the Court has read this allegation as a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Rouse v. Plantier, Civil Action No. 90-3511, slip op. at 4 (D.N.J. June 30, 1995) (Bassler, J.) (hereinafter Rouse I). *fn6"

 In their Second Amended Complaint and through factual and expert discovery, Plaintiffs have identified the central axes by which a constitutional program of diabetic care would be measured. Plaintiffs have identified those axes as: blood sugar control, nutrition and diet, patient education, prevention and management of acute and long term complications of diabetes, and diabetic-specific primary care needs. See Plaintiffs' Brief at 6-15; Second Amend. Compl. at PP 25-31. Plaintiffs claim that on all of these, the level of care provided by Defendants to the insulin-dependent diabetic inmates of ADTC is inadequate to the point of being unconstitutional. See, e.g., Plaintiffs' Brief at 6 (noting opinion of Dr. Michael Cohen, Plaintiffs' primary medical expert). In addition to the systemic problems with the medical care provided to insulin-dependent diabetics, Plaintiffs also argue that "specific instances of grossly inadequate care" have occurred and that they constitute, in and of themselves, violations of the Eighth Amendment. See Plaintiffs' Brief at 16-17 (detailing problems with respect to foot problems of Plaintiffs, Brooks and Darryl Rouse ("Rouse")). Finally, Plaintiffs allege that the constitutionally deficient medical care was the result of the Defendants' deliberate indifference to Plaintiffs' serious medical needs. See Second Amend. Compl. at PP 24, 64-66.

 Plaintiffs' second claim is that the Defendants have failed to provide adequate medical care and thereby reasonably accommodate their medical needs and have precluded them from participating in various prison programs, a violation of the American with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq. (the "ADA"). See Second Amend. Compl. at PP 72-74, Rouse I, slip op. at 16-17 (alleging services to which Plaintiffs claim to have been denied access); but see Plaintiffs' Brief at 38-39.

 The Court may exercise jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' claims under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1343(a)(3-4). See Examining Bd. of Engineers, Architects & Surveyors v. Flores de Otero, 426 U.S. 572, 574, 49 L. Ed. 2d 65, 96 S. Ct. 2264 (1976) (noting complement between section 1983 and section currently codified in section 1343(a)(3)); Hilfirty v. Shipman, 91 F.3d 573, 577 (3d Cir. 1996) (noting jurisdictional complements of 42 U.S.C. § 1983); Gares v. Willingboro Township, 90 F.3d 720, 725 (3d Cir. 1996) (same).

 II. Standard of Review on Motion for Summary Judgment

 A party seeking summary judgment must "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see, e.g., Orson, Inc. v. Miramax Film Corp., 79 F.3d 1358, 1366 (3d Cir. 1996); Healy v. New York Life Ins. Co., 860 F.2d 1209, 1219 n.3 (3d Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 490 U.S. 1098, 104 L. Ed. 2d 1004, 109 S. Ct. 2449 (1989); Hersh v. Allen Prod. Co., 789 F.2d 230, 232 (3d Cir. 1986); Lang v. New York Life Ins. Co., 721 F.2d 118, 119 (3d Cir. 1983).

 In deciding whether there is a disputed issue of material fact, the Court must view the underlying facts and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in favor of the non-moving party. See, e.g., Pennsylvania Coal Ass'n v. Babbitt, 63 F.3d 231, 236 (3d Cir. 1995); Hancock Indus. v. Schaeffer, 811 F.2d 225, 231 (3d Cir. 1987); Meyer v. Riegel Prods. Corp., 720 F.2d 303, 307 n.2 (3d Cir. 1983), cert. dismissed, 465 U.S. 1091, 79 L. Ed. 2d 910, 104 S. Ct. 2144 (1984). The threshold inquiry is whether there are "any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986) (noting that no issue for trial exists unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict in its favor).

 
When a motion for summary judgment is made and supported as provided in this rule, an adverse party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading, but the adverse party's response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. If the adverse party does not so respond, summary judgment, if appropriate, shall be entered against the adverse party.

 Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). The rule does not increase or decrease a party's ultimate burden of proof on a claim. Rather, "the determination of whether a given factual dispute requires submission to a jury must be guided by the substantive evidentiary standards that apply to the case." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255-56.

 Under the rule, a movant must be awarded summary judgment on all properly supported issues identified in its motion, except for those for which the non-moving party has provided evidence to show that a question of material fact remains. Put another way, once the moving party has properly supported its showing of no triable issue of fact and of an entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, for example, with affidavits, which may be "supplemented . . . by depositions, answers to interrogatories, or further affidavits," id., "its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986); see also Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48 ("by its very terms, this standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion . . . ; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact") (emphasis in original).

 What the non-moving party must do is "go beyond the pleadings and by [its] own affidavits, or by the 'depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986); see also Lujan v. National Wildlife Fed., 497 U.S. 871, 888, 111 L. Ed. 2d 695, 110 S. Ct. 3177 (1990) ("the object of [Rule 56(e)] is not to replace conclusory allegations of the complaint . . . with conclusory allegations of an affidavit"); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249; Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992) ("to raise a genuine issue of material fact . . . the [non-moving party] need not match, item for item, each piece of evidence proffered by the movant," but rather must exceed the "'mere scintilla' threshold"), cert. denied, 507 U.S. 912, 122 L. Ed. 2d 659, 113 S. Ct. 1262 (1993).

 Finally, it should be noted that "summary judgment is no longer a disfavored procedural shortcut and may present the district court with the first opportunity to dispose of meritless cases." 974 F.2d at 1362 (citations omitted). This is true even "in cases where motive and intent play leading roles." Id. Nonetheless, it is inappropriate for a court to resolve factual disputes and to make credibility determinations. Id. at 1363.

 III. Discussion

 A. Eighth Amendment

 1. Liability

 In general, to establish a violation of the Eighth Amendment right to be free from "cruel and unusual punishment[]," U.S. Const. amend. VIII; see Robinson v. California, 370 U.S. 660, 8 L. Ed. 2d 758, 82 S. Ct. 1417 (1962) (applying Eighth Amendment to states through Fourteenth Amendment), a plaintiff must show a prison official's "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104, 50 L. Ed. 2d 251, 97 S. Ct. 285 (1976); see also Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 302-03, 115 L. Ed. 2d 271, 111 S. Ct. 2321 (1991) (distinguishing between "emergency situation" and "prison conditions" cases and finding that "deliberate indifference" constitutes wantonness in prison conditions cases); see, e.g., Reynolds v. Wagner, 128 F.3d 166, 1997 WL 652741, *3, *5 (3d Cir. 1997) (noting "deliberate indifference" and "serious medical needs" prongs of Estelle test and finding that charging inmates who can pay for medical care does not constitute deliberate indifference or violate due process); Monmouth Cty Correctional Inst'l Inmates v. Lanzaro, 834 F.2d 326, 346 (3d Cir. 1987) (noting Estelle test), cert. denied, 486 U.S. 1006, 100 L. Ed. 2d 195, 108 S. Ct. 1731 (1988).

 In construing the meaning of "deliberate indifference," specifically, whether it expresses a state of mind closer to "recklessness" as embodied in civil or ...


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