The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARY COOPER, District Judge
The defendants George Achebe ("Achebe") and Ellen Warner
("Warner") move pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
("Rule") 56(c) for summary judgment as to the claims asserted
against them for (1) medical malpractice and negligence brought
under state law, and (2) punitive damages pursuant to § 1983. The
Court, for the reasons stated herein, will grant the motion in
part and deny the motion in part.
The parties are familiar with the background of this action.
(See 8-2-04 Mem. Op. & Ord.) Plaintiff, David Nash ("Nash"), is
a prisoner at New Jersey State Prison ("NJSP"). He has been
incarcerated at NJSP since November 5, 1995. (Crammer Cert., Ex.
A.) On October 17, 2000, Nash was struck in the face by a fellow
inmate, and sustained an orbital fracture to the left eye.
(Id., Ex. B, at 2.) II. Procedural History
Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint on November 6, 2002,
alleging, inter alia, violations of the Eighth Amendment.
(Dkt. entry no. 2.) He seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Id. Specifically, plaintiff contends the defendants failed to
protect his safety and acted with deliberate indifference to his
serious medical needs. (Id. at ¶¶ 27-29, 30-31, 33-34.)
Previously, Achebe and Warner moved for summary judgment
contending they were entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
(8-2-04 Mem. Op. & Ord., at 1.) The motion was denied because the
Court found that Nash had produced enough evidence to satisfy a
prima facie case for deliberate indifference. (8-2-04 Mem. Op.,
Achebe and Warner now move for summary judgment as to the
claims asserted against them for (1) medical malpractice and
negligence under state law, and (2) punitive damages pursuant to
I. Standard for Summary Judgment
Rule 56(c) provides that summary judgment is proper "if the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show
that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that
the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law."
The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of showing that there is no genuine
issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
323 (1986). Once the summary judgment movant has met this prima
facie burden, the nonmovant "must set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(e). A nonmovant must present actual evidence that raises a
genuine issue of material fact and may not rely on mere
allegations. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249
The Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to
the nonmovant when deciding a summary judgment motion.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). At the summary judgment stage, the Court's role
is "not . . . to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of
the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for
trial." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. "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 for summary judgment; the requirement
is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Id. at
247-48 (emphasis in original). A fact is material only if it
might affect the action's outcome under governing law. Id. at
248. "[T]here is no issue for trial unless there is sufficient
evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a
verdict for that party. If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly
probative, summary judgment may be granted." Id. at 249-50
A. Medical Malpractice and Negligence Claims Under State Law
Achebe and Warner argue that judgment should be entered in
their favor on the medical malpractice claims against them
because Nash failed to file an affidavit-of-merit pursuant to
N.J.S.A § 2A:53A-27. (Defs. Br., at 3.) Nash opposes, arguing
that he requested an expert report on March 1, 2004, and received
no response. (Pl. Ans., at ¶¶ 1-3; 3-1-04 Ltr. to Dr. Razvi.)
Further he argues the ...