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Daniel Twomey v. Ocean County

August 30, 2011

DANIEL TWOMEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OCEAN COUNTY, ET AL, DEFENDANTS.



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

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Presently before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendants Ocean County and Ocean County Jail Medical Unit ("Defendants"). The instant motion arises out of a Complaint filed by Plaintiff Daniel Twomey ("Plaintiff" or "Twomey") alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by failing to provide him with adequate medical care while incarcerated at Ocean County Jail. In this motion, Defendants argue that Summary Judgment is proper because: (1) Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 ("PLRA"); (2) Plaintiff failed to effect proper service on Ocean County; (3) Plaintiff has failed to establish deliberate indifference with regard to his medical treatment; and (4) Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate an issue of material fact. Because this Court finds that Defendant has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, the Court need not address the remaining grounds for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion and will dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint.

I. SUMMARY JUDGMENT

A. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 "Summary judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue of material fact and if, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Pearson v. Component Tech. Corp., 247 F.3d 471, 482 n.1 (3d Cir. 2001) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)); accord Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). For an issue to be genuine, there must be "a sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party." Kaucher v. County of Bucks, 455 F.3d 418, 423 (3d Cir. 2006); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must view the facts and all reasonable inferences drawn from those facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Curley v. Klem, 298 F.3d 271, 276-77 (3d Cir. 2002). For a fact to be material, it must have the ability to "affect the outcome of the suit under governing law." Kaucher, 455 F.3d at 423. Disputes over irrelevant or unnecessary facts will not preclude a grant of summary judgment.

Initially, the moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323. Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must identify, by affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id.; Maidenbaum v. Bally's Park Place, Inc., 870 F. Supp. 1254, 1258 (D.N.J. 1994). Thus, to withstand a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must identify specific facts and affirmative evidence that contradict those offered by the moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57. "A nonmoving party may not 'rest upon mere allegations, general denials or . . . vague statements . . . .'" Trap Rock Indus., Inc. v. Local 825, Int'l Union of Operating Eng'rs, 982 F.2d 884, 890 (3d Cir. 1992) (quoting Quiroga v. Hasbro, Inc., 934 F.2d 497, 500 (3d Cir. 1991)). Moreover, the non-moving party must present "more than a scintilla of evidence showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Woloszyn v. County of Lawrence, 396 F.3d 314, 319 (3d Cir. 2005). Indeed, the plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

Moreover, in deciding the merits of a party's motion for summary judgment, the court's role is not to evaluate the evidence and decide the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. Credibility determinations are the province of the fact finder. Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992).

B. New Jersey Local Civil Rule 56.1 New Jersey Local Civil Rule 56.1(a), as amended in 2008, requires that on summary judgment motions, both the moving and non-moving parties furnish a statement identifying what each side deems to be the material facts, so that the Court can determine if a genuine dispute exists. The commentary to the Rule notes that "the requirement of a separate document represents a change from the practice under the former version of the rule," and that "[t]he Rule 56.1 statement is viewed by the Court as a vital procedural step, since it constitutes and is relied upon as a critical admission of the parties." The commentary specifies the content and format of the statement: e.g., the assertions must be set out in separately numbered paragraphs; each fact must be supported by a citation to an affidavit.

Consequences of a movant's noncompliance with the Rule can be severe-"[a] motion for summary judgment unaccompanied by a statement of material facts not in dispute shall be dismissed."

L. Civ. R. 56.1(a). See also Kee v. Camden County, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23637, at *14 (D.N.J. 2007) (Simandle, J.); Langan Eng'g & Envtl. Servs. v. Greenwich Ins. Co., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99341 (D.N.J. 2008) (Greenaway, J.). Where an opposition brief is not accompanied by a Rule 56.1 statement, the movant is not automatically entitled to summary judgment. Instead, the judge "may enter summary judgment in favor of the moving party only if the moving party has established that summary judgment is appropriate." Cornelio v. Coupon Serv. Corp., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 213, 15 *5 (D.N.J. 2007) (Pisano, J.). Such a scenario is predicated on the movant having filed a Rule 56.1 statement.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff states that on August 2, 2008, while housed at the Ocean County Jail, he was playing handball in the yard and fell in a pothole. He was seen by a nurse who diagnosed him with a sprained ankle, but as soon as he got back to his tier, his leg swelled up with bruises forming over his foot to his toes. He was called to medical the next day to see a doctor. An x-ray was performed two days later, on August 5, 2008, revealing a break in the ankle. While he was admitted to the medical unit on August 8, 2008, he did not see a specialist or have his ankle put in a cast until three weeks later.

On August 17, 2008, while in the medical unit prior to his ankle being casted, Plaintiff slipped, jamming his broken ankle and falling on his back. He was taken to the emergency room, where a splint was put on his ankle and he received a neck brace.

On September 9, 2008, Plaintiff's cast was taken off by a specialist, and Plaintiff was prescribed an ankle brace. Plaintiff was given another x-ray and ...


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