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Matt Green v. Jon Corzine

February 22, 2011

MATT GREEN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JON CORZINE, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thompson, U.S.D.J.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION & ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the Court upon Plaintiff Matt Green's Motion for Summary Judgment [docket #144] and Defendants Jeffrey Bell, Jon Corzine, Thomas Farrell, George Hayman, Vaughn Hinman, Robert Paterson, Michelle Ricci, Peter Ronoghan, Lydell Sherrer, and Ralph Woodward's (collectively, "State Defendants" or "Defendants") Motion for Summary Judgment [202]. The Court has decided the motions after considering the parties' written submissions, without holding oral argument. For the reasons given below, Plaintiff's motion is denied, and Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

II. BACKGROUND

A.Factual History

Plaintiff is an inmate currently incarcerated at New Jersey State Prison ("NJSP") under the care of the New Jersey Department of Corrections ("DOC"). (Compl. ¶ 58.) He claims that he requires extra-wide size 10EEE shoes to accommodate his unusually wide feet. (Id.) When he was first incarcerated in New Jersey in 1999, he was given size 10 ordinary boots. (Id. ¶ 59.) These boots caused blisters and ulcers, and Plaintiff was eventually given a prescription for size 10EEE shoes. (Id. ¶¶ 60--61.) He was given a pair of size 10EEE boots and a pair of size 10EEE sneakers, and continued to receive boots and sneakers in this size through 2006. (Id. ¶¶ 61--62.)

On August 4, 2006, Defendant Ricci, the administrator of NJSP, ordered a lockdown and search of the facility. (Id. ¶ 63.) Plaintiff's unit was searched, and he was forced to leave behind his sneakers and boots. (Id. ¶ 65.) When he returned to his cell, his shoes and boots were missing. (Id.) Plaintiff submitted a claim for his boots and shoes, and his shoes were returned, but his boots never were. (Green Decl. ¶ 16) [144-1]. When Plaintiff requested new boots, Defendant Hinman, the NJSP Storekeeper, issued him ordinary size 10 boots, which caused Plaintiff problems. (Id. ¶ 17.) Hinman then temporarily issued Plaintiff ordinary size 10.5 boots until his proper size could be ordered. (Hutton Decl. Ex. B, at Green 11) [73-3]. On September 14, 2006, Plaintiff was informed that his extra-wide boots were being reordered, and he did not complain again from September 28, 2007 until April 29, 2007, when he again requested size 10EEE boots. (Id. at Green 11, 13, 15.)

On May 14, 2007, Plaintiff received extra-wide, size 10XW boots. (Id. at Green 16.) Defendants claim that the size 10XW boots are equivalent to size 10EEE. (Id.) Nevertheless, Plaintiff complained that the boots were still too tight and caused him blisters. (Id.)

On December 17, 2007, Mary Lemanski, the NJSP Health Services Manager, sent an email (the "Lemanski letter") to Defendant Ronoghan, the NJSP Business Manager, stating that the size 10XW shoes were causing sores and blisters on Plaintiff's feet and that Plaintiff would need to be properly fitted for new footwear. (Green Decl. Ex. A, at Green 1538) [144-1]. Her email indicated that responsibility for providing proper footwear lay with the DOC, not Correctional Medical Services, Inc. ("CMS")-the business contracted with the responsibility of providing medical services to NJSP. (Id.); (see also id. at Green 872--873). Ronoghan forwarded the email to Defendant Hinman with a notation directing Hinman to "[p]lease check Inmate Green's card. If due for boot replacement, please size him" and order new boots. (Id. at Green 1538.) Hinman issued Plaintiff size 11 boots on March 20, 2008, (Green Decl. Ex. A, at Green 1539) [144-1], but Plaintiff complained that these boots were too long and still too tight. (Green Decl. Ex. A, at Green 1038.) Plaintiff was advised on May 2, 2008 that his requested extra-wide boots had been ordered. (Id.) Hinman claims he received the new boots in June and tried to send them to Plaintiff but that he sent them to the wrong unit. (Hsia Decl. Ex. A, at Green 968) [202-3]. On September 19, 2008, Hinman placed a new order for size 10EEEE boots, which were delivered to Plaintiff in early October. (Id. at Green 1541--47); (Green Decl. ¶56) [144-1].

Plaintiff claims that his inability to secure proper-fitting footwear has caused him pain and resulted in bleeding, blisters, and ulcers in his feet as well as radiating pain in his ankles, knees, hips, and back.

B.Procedural History

On May 27, 2008, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se along with three other inmates, submitted a section 1983 class action Complaint on behalf of a putative class of state prisoners "with serious, debilitating orthopedic and prosthetic conditions," alleging that they had been deprived of their right to adequate medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment and the New Jersey Constitution, that Defendants' actions violated New Jersey public policy, and alleging state common law claims of medical malpractice, negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and breach of contract.*fn1 (Compl.) [1]. The Court denied class certification because Plaintiffs failed to meet the typicality, adequacy, predominance, and superiority requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23. Order at 12, Ramos v. Corzine, Civ. No. 08-2585 (D.N.J. June 24, 2008) [2]. But the Court permitted Plaintiff's claims to proceed on an individual basis. Order at 1, Ramos v. Corzine, Civ. No. 08-2585 (D.N.J. Apr. 6, 2009) [49].

The State Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, and on March 22, 2010, the Court granted the motion in part and denied it in part. (Opinion, Mar. 22, 2010) [110]. That opinion contained several findings relevant to the instant motion. First, we found that Defendants Hinman, Ricci, and Hayman were not liable for any injuries plaintiff suffered as a result of the allegedly deficient boots issued to Plaintiff on September 28, 2006, and May 14, 2007, because the record indicated that he was given size 10.5 boots in September as a temporary solution and that Defendants believed the size 10XW boots issued in May were equivalent to what was requested. (Id. at 6--7.) However, we held that the Complaint sufficiently alleged that Defendants Hinman and Ronoghan were personally aware of and deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's medical needs after they received the Lemanski letter in December 2007, and we therefore allowed the claims to proceed against these two defendants. (Id. at 7--8.)

Second, we held that Defendant Ricci's alleged role in the confiscation of footwear during the 2006 lockdown was insufficient to support a claim of deliberate indifference on a theory of personal awareness. (Id. at 6.) However, we found that Plaintiff properly alleged that Ricci was liable for the confiscations in her supervisory capacity because it was plausible that Ricci knew of and acquiesced to her subordinates' activities. (Id. at 10.) Therefore, we allowed the claim against Ricci to proceed under a theory of supervisory liability.

Third, we found that Plaintiff asserted a plausible claim against Defendants Hayman, Sherrer, Paterson, Farrell, and Woodward on the grounds that they promulgated a policy not to prescribe orthopedic footwear, and that this policy led to Plaintiff's inability to obtain properly-sized shoes. (Id. at 12.) Finally, Defendants Bell, Corzine, and the UMDNJ ...


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