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NASH v. BROWN

September 22, 2005.

DAVID L. NASH, Plaintiff,
v.
DEVON BROWN, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARY COOPER, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

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.

BACKGROUND

  I. Facts

  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., at 16.)

  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 § 1983.

  DISCUSSION

  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 (1986).

  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 (citations omitted).

  II. Analysis

  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 ...


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