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Prince A.Z.K. Adekoya Ii v. Michael Chertoff.

March 31, 2011


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



In this civil action, plaintiff Prince A.Z.K. Adekoya II ("Adekoya") alleges that defendants Patricia Moscatelli ("Moscatelli"), a medication rounds officer at the Bergen County Jail ("BCJ"), and Ann Marie Klein ("Klein"), a nurse at the BCJ, violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to provide him with adequate medical care. Specifically, Adekoya contends that the defendants failed to provide him with Motrin for a hand injury during the three weeks he was incarcerated at the BCJ in 2008 and that this constituted deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.*fn1 He also alleges a violation of substantive due process and charges Moscatelli and Klein with civil conspiracy. They now move for summary judgment.


From May 23, 2008 to June 14, 2008, Adekoya was an immigration detainee housed at the BCJ in Hackensack, New Jersey. [Am. Compl., D.E. 7, at ¶ 26.] Adekoya complains that, while at the BCJ, he could not eat because he was not provided Halal meals and, because he was not eating, he could not take the Motrin prescribed for a pre-existing hand injury. [Am. Compl. ¶ 26; Adekoya Dep., June 15, 2010 ("Pl.'s Dep."), D.E. 47, ex. E at 6:3--6, 8:19--25, and 9:1--7.]

Two months before arriving at the BCJ, Adekoya fractured his hand and his doctor at the time recommended one session of physical therapy in order to teach him self-therapy. [Pl.'s Dep. at 6:3--5; Am. Compl., ex. A at 1.]

Adekoya states that at the BCJ, Klein and Moscatelli saw the condition of his hand and knew that he was not being medically treated. [Am. Compl. at ¶ 20--21.] Adekoya's medical records indicate that Klein gave Adekoya Motrin prescribed for his hand on at least two occasions, June 2 and June 4, 2008. [Moving Br., D.E. 47, ex. B.] His medical records also indicate that, on several occasions, Adekoya was advised not to take hismedication because he had refused to eat and, according to Klein, the Motrin had to be taken with food. [Pl.'s Dep. 8:1--

14.] In his deposition, Adekoya concedes that he received and took his medication on some days [Pl.'s Dep. 7:18--25], and on other days he refused his medication because he was on a hunger strike. [Moving Br. ex. B.]

Adekoya initially brought this action in 2008, alleging thatMoscatelli and Klein, along with eighteen other defendants, failed to provide him with adequate medical care, deprived him of religious meals, deprived him of access to the library, and conspired against him to violate his constitutional rights. In a March 4, 2009 opinion [D.E. 4], the Court rejected Adekoya's contentions regarding his religious meals, finding that he had no cognizable constitutional claim to them. In an opinion of September 16, 2009 [D.E. 10], the Court allowed Adekoya's medical care claim in his amended complaint [D.E. 7] to proceed against Moscatelli and Klein, as well as defendant John Doe Medical Director at Bergen County Jail.*fn2 The amended complaint, filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleges violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment as well as of his Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process rights. [Am. Compl. at ¶ 27.] Additionally, Adekoya alleges a civil conspiracy by defendants to deprive him of his constitutional rights. [Am. Compl. at ¶ 29.] Adekoya's Eighth Amendment claim centers on his allegation that he was denied Motrin to deal with pain in his hand and denied the physical therapy treatment that his doctor had recommended prior to his incarceration. [Am. Compl. at ¶ 27.] Although he complains that he could not take his medication without his Halal meals [Id. at ¶ 20--21], the Court, as noted above, already has held he did not have a constitutional right to these meals.

Defendants Moscatelli and Klein move for summary judgment, arguing that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to the allegations that they violated Adekoya's constitutional rights, and that he has not met the standard for an Eighth Amendment violation, a Fourteenth Amendment violation, or a civil conspiracy claim. [Moving Br. at 5.] Specifically, Moscatelli and Klein assert that Adekoya's medical needs do not meet the "sufficiently serious" requirement for Eighth Amendment violations [Moving Br. at 7], and contend that they were not deliberately indifferent to his medical needs because their actions-in light of their professional medical judgment-were reasonable. [Moving Br. at 8--10.] With regard to Adekoya's civil conspiracy claim, Moscatelli and Klein assert that Adekoya has not provided sufficient factual allegations concerning any agreement or plan to conspire. [Moving Br. at 11--13.] Finally, regarding Adekoya's Fourteenth Amendment claim, Moscatelli and Klein contend that Adekoya has not established that their conduct meets the required "shocks the conscience" standard. [Moving Br. at 14, 17.]

Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A court shall grant summary judgment "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact." F. R. Civ. P. 56(a). "[U]nless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party," there is no issue for the fact-finder at trial and summary judgment is appropriate. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff." Id. at 252.

When analyzing a motion for summary judgment, "inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts. . . must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654 (1962)). The moving party must present evidence that there is no genuine issue of material fact, and the nonmoving party must then respond with "‗specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)).

Moscatelli and Klein argue that there is no genuine dispute as to: (1) whether they provided Adekoya with adequate medical care in accordance with the Eighth Amendment; (2) whether they provided Adekoya with adequate medical care in accordance with his substantive due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment; ...

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