United States District Court, D. New Jersey
HARTMAN DOHERTY ROSA BERMAN & BULBULIA, LLC By: Tal Z.
Cushmaro, Esq. Counsel for Plaintiff
HOLTZMAN & McCLAIN, P.C. By: Stephen D. Holtzman, Esq.
Jeffrey S. McClain, Esq. Counsel for Defendant CFG Health
MCKAY, P.A. By: Elizabeth M. Garcia, Esq. Counsel for
Defendant Peter Farlow Sr.
VIGILANTE LAW FIRM, P.C. By: Jacqueline M. Vigilante, Esq.
Counsel for Defendant John Vernon
OFFICE OF CAMDEN COUNTY COUNSEL By: Anne E. Walters,
Assistant County Counsel Counsel for Defendants County of
Camden, Camden County Correctional Facility, Correctional
Officer Nnakuru R. Chukudi, and Warden Eric M. Taylor
HILLMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Craig Sanders, who was at all relevant times, incarcerated in
the Camden County Correctional Facility (CCCF), brings this
§ 1983 suit alleging that, as a pretrial detainee in the
CCCF, he was beaten by three corrections officers, Defendants
Vernon, Farlow, and Chukudi. Sanders further asserts that he
was denied adequate medical treatment from Defendant CFG
Health Systems for the injuries he asserts resulted from the
alleged beating, which allegedly resulted in a 10-day
hospital stay and three surgeries on Sanders' right leg.
before the Court are Defendants' Motions for Summary
Judgment [Docket Nos. 71, 75, 78, 79]. For the reasons stated
herein, Defendant CFG's motion will be granted in its
entirety; the corrections officers' motions will be
granted in part, denied as moot in part, and denied in all
other respects; and the remaining Camden County
Defendants' motion will be granted in part and denied in
midnight and 1 a.m. on January 27, 2013, Plaintiff Sanders
was involved in a physical altercation with Defendant
Corrections Officers Vernon, Farlow, and Chukudi. (Pl's
Ex. 9, Camden County Department of Corrections General
Incident Report; Vernon Dep. p. 69)
incident occurred in Sanders' cell, which he shared with
inmate William Cooper. (Pl's Ex. 9; Sanders Dep. p. 17,
24, 89, 91, 136-37; Cooper Dep. p. 45-46) Both Sanders and
Cooper were asleep when all three Defendants Vernon, Farlow,
and Chukudi entered the cell. (Pl's Ex. 9, Sanders Dep.
p. 15, 17; Cooper Dep. p. 45) It is undisputed that Vernon was
yelling as he entered the cell.
and Cooper testified that Vernon was yelling profanities in a
“vicious” or “degrading” manner.
(Sanders Dep. p. 89; Cooper Dep. p. 45) Vernon testified that
he was “yelling” but he could “not
specifically” recall what he said. (Vernon Dep. p. 74)
Defendant Farlow testified that Vernon was “definitely
agitated.” (Farlow Dep. p. 76)
Farlow further testified:
[Defendant Vernon] went right to the cell, he opened the
door. He walked in. I believe Chukudi followed, I stood at
the door, and he was yelling as he entered [Sanders']
cell. And as he walked towards the center of the cell, Mr.
Sanders [who was on the top bunk] turned over with his hands
and feet flailing toward Lieutenant Vernon, at which point
Lieutenant Vernon grabbed him and threw him to the floor.
Chukudi assisted him. They were in front of me.
(Farlow Dep. p. 75)
A: As I enter the cell, Inmate Sanders swings his feet off
the [top] bunk and kicks me.
Q: Did it look like Sanders had been sleeping at the time you
A: I couldn't tell.
Q: Was he lying down?
A: When I saw him he was in a somewhat reposed position. His
legs were extended, but kind of, he was sitting up. . . .
Like in an L position.
. . . .
Q: How did he swing his legs at you? What was the motion? Was
it a kick or was it just sort of flailing?
A: It was a kick.
. . . .
A: When Inmate Sanders kicked me, I then reached up and
grabbed him, because him being in a higher position, that
kind of give him an advantage, you know, to kick me again. I
pulled him off the bunk to the floor.
. . . .
A: . . . After I pulled him off the bunk, ‘Place your
hands behind your back.' At that time he failed to
comply. He was kind of struggling and flailing about.
Q: Do you recall if Mr. Sanders had hit his head on anything
on his way from the bunk to the floor?
A: I thought he hit his head . . . . So when I pulled him, on
his way down, I thought his head hit the [steel] table
[welded into the wall] on the way down and then onto the
(Vernon Dep. p. 80-82)
testified that “all three [Defendants] grabbed [him]
and removed [him] from the bed” (Sanders Dep. p. 177),
“[his] head hit the stool that's constructed coming
out of the wall, ” on the way down to the floor, and he
lost consciousness for an indeterminate period of time.
(Id. at p. 17, 21) Cooper also testified that
Sanders “was in and out of consciousness” at that
time. (Cooper Dep. p. 50)
testified that he witnessed Defendant Vernon
“punch” Sanders while Sanders was on the ground.
(Cooper Dep. p. 46) Chukudi testified that he “saw
Vernon throw a fist on one of the inmates, ” but could
not say who the inmate was. (Chukudi Dep. p. 85-86; 89)
Farlow testified that he “did not see” Vernon
punch Sanders (Farlow Dep. p. 100); and Vernon testified,
“I don't recall punching [Sanders].” (Vernon
Dep. p. 83)
testified that Defendant Vernon “kicked” him in
the face, “hit” him in the head with a radio, and
“repeatedly kicked . . . and stomped” his side,
legs, head, and back. (Sanders Dep. p. 19, 22-23) Cooper
similarly testified that Defendant Vernon “hit”
and “stomped” Sanders “in his face”
“multiple, multiple times through the whole thing,
” (Cooper Dep. p. 56), and “used [Vernon's]
radio” to hit Sanders. (Id. at p. 58)
testified that Defendant Farlow was holding him down at this
time (Sanders Dep. p. 18, 173), and that Farlow
“kicked” him, and Chukudi “was
stomping” him. (Id. at p. 174, 206) Sanders
further testified that “somebody” “punched
[him] with . . . keys” in the back. (Id. at p.
testified that he saw “Vernon hitting on [Sanders] and
Chukudi holding [Sanders].” (Cooper Dep. p. 50, 55)
Defendant Farlow testified that Vernon and Chukudi were
“struggling” “to get [Sanders] handcuffed
and under control.” (Farlow Dep. p. 94) Defendant
Chukudi testified that Farlow instructed Chukudi to
“cuff [Sanders] down immediately and send him
downstairs.” (Chukudi Dep. p. 89)
and Cooper both testified that Sanders was compliant through
the entire altercation. (Sanders Dep. p. 212; Cooper Dep. p.
50) Defendant Vernon testified that Sanders “wasn't
complying” with orders. (Vernon Dep. p. 82-83)
testified that he suffered the following injuries:
My left eye was gashed open, my teeth went through my bottom
lip, my teeth was [sic] loose, I had a hole in my back where
somebody punched me with keys, bruises, contusions about my
body. My face was disfigured. My leg, I couldn't stand
(Sanders Dep. p. 92-93; see also Id. at p. 221)
testified that immediately after the incident Sanders
“complained” “my leg, my leg, my
leg.” (Cooper Dep. p. 62)
testified that he saw that Sanders' “eye was
bleeding, ” so he sent Sanders “down to get
taken a look at by Medical.” (Vernon Dep. p. 83)
medical records maintained by Defendant CFG Health Systems on
behalf of the Camden County Correctional Facility reflect the
following. Shortly after the incident, at approximately 12:45
a.m., a nurse examined Sanders. (Pl's Ex. 12 at C.
Sanders CCCF 52) She observed that he had “stable gait,
” clear speech, a laceration to the left eye with new
and old bruising, and swelling. (Id.) The nurse
cleaned the wound, applied “steri-strips, ” and
referred Sanders to see a doctor “in [the] a.m.”
did not see a doctor the next morning, but did the following
day, on January 28th. (Pl's Ex. 12 at C.
Sanders CCCF 50) The doctor recorded, in relevant part,
“stable gait, ” soreness, swelling and
discoloration to the left periorbital area and right scapula
tenderness. (Id.) The doctor also observed that four
of Sanders' teeth were loose and a referral to dental was
made and an x-ray ordered. (Id. at C. Sanders CCCF
26) There is no record of any complaints of injury to the
lower back or lower extremities. (Pl's Response to
CFG's Statement of Undisputed Material Facts, hereafter
“Pl's R. CFG SUMF, ” ¶ 19)
medical file further documents the following sequence of
• On March 7, 2013, Sanders submitted a sick call slip
complaining of headaches and pain in the lower back down the
right leg to the foot and it was noted by a nurse that
Sanders was on Neurontin and he would follow-up with a
doctor. (Pl's R. CFG SUMF ¶ 20)
• Sanders submitted a sick call slip dated March 10,
2013 complaining of chronic headaches and pain in the back
and legs and a nurse, on March 12, 2013, noted that Sanders
had already been seen by a provider on March 11, 2013.
(Pl's R. CFG SUMF ¶ 21)
• Sanders was seen by Dr. Ronsayro on March 11, 2013
with complaints of headache, pain in right buttock shooting
down right leg. Dr. Ronsayro's assessment was of sciatica
in the right lower extremity and right foot drop and orders
were placed for an ace bandage and Indocin for 90 days.
(Pl's R. CFG SUMF ¶ 22-23)
• On March 25, 2013, Sanders submitted a sick call slip
complaining of pain in the right foot and leg as well as
swelling of the leg, foot and ankle; a nurse noted that
Sanders had been seen by the doctor on March 11, 2013 and
that medications were ordered for the Plaintiff and he was
given an Ace® bandage. (Pl's R. CFG SUMF ¶ 24)
• On or about March 31, 2013, Sanders submitted a sick
call slip complaining of swelling to the right leg, ankle and
foot, as well as pain and, on April 1, 2013, a nurse noted
swelling to the right ankle, non-pitting, no redness, no
ecchymosis. The nurse also noted that Sanders denied any
injury and referred Sanders to a doctor. (Pl's R. CFG
SUMF ¶ 25-26)
• Sanders was seen by medical director Dr. Juan Utreras
on April 2, 2013 who noted Sanders' complaint of right
ankle tenderness as well as full range of motion with
occasional right foot dragging. Dr. Utreras noted minimal
edema, normal gait, normal sensation, that Sanders was
seeking more pain medication, threatening to contact his
lawyer, and pain medication, Indocin, was given based on
objective findings. (Pl's R. CFG SUMF ¶ 27-28)
• On April 12, 2013, Sanders submitted a sick call slip
seeking renewal of unspecified medications and, on April 15,
2015, a nurse entered an order for Neurontin for Sanders.
(Pl's R. CFG SUMF ¶ 29)
• On April 27, 2013, Sanders submitted a sick call slip
seeking renewal of unspecified medications and a nurse noted
that Sanders' prescription for Neurontin was good through
July 14 and his prescription for Indocin was good through
June 9, 2013. (Pl's R. CFG SUMF ¶ 30)
• On May 10, 2013, Sanders submitted a sick call slip
complaining of swelling to his right leg, foot and ankles and
a nurse referred Sanders to a doctor for this ongoing issue,
and noted that Sanders was to be seen on May 14, 2013.
(Pl's R. CFG SUMF ¶ 31)
• On May 11, 2013, Sanders submitted a sick call slip
complaining of swelling to his right leg, foot and ankle, and
pain and, on May 12, 2013, Sanders was seen by a nurse who
referred Sanders to the doctor to be seen on May 14, 2013.
(Pl's R. CFG SUMF ¶ 32)
• Sanders was seen by medical director Dr. Juan Utreras
on May 14, 2013 for complaints of bilateral lower extremity
edema for 2 weeks. Dr. Utreras ordered an EKG, chest x-ray
and lab work and prescribed Lasix with a follow-up in 7 days.
(Pl's R. CFG SUMF ¶ 33-34)
• Sanders was seen in follow-up by medical director Dr.
Utreras on May 21, 2013. Dr. Utreras noted Sanders'
complaint of continuing bilateral lower extremity edema,
injury history and drop foot, and lab results were noted to
be within normal limits. Dr. Utreras noted reduced edema and
the plan was to continue Lasix. (Pl's R. CFG SUMF ¶
• On June 8, 2013, Sanders was seen by a nurse who noted
that Sanders complained of a knot in the groin, thigh and
calf, indicating that he woke up with these complaints. The
nurse noted tenderness in right thigh, negative Homan's
sign and negative findings of a palpable lump or mass, skin
was warm and dry with no visible lesions. The nurse noted
that Sanders was on Indocin and Lasix and Sanders was
referred to the doctor. (Pl's R. CFG SUMF ¶ 38-40)
• On June 9, 2013, Sanders was seen by Dr. Estrella
Ronsayro who noted Sanders' complaint of diffuse swelling
upon waking up that morning. Dr. Ronsayro noted diffuse
swelling of the right lower extremity with erythematous
purplish discoloration and an erythematous palpable cord
along medial side of the right thigh, positive tenderness on
palpation, positive Homan's sign, and increased
temperature. Dr. Ronsayro ordered Plaintiff transferred to
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital to rule out cellulitis and to
rule out deep vein thrombosis. (Pl's R. CFG SUMF ¶
testified that throughout this time “my leg kept
swelling up. . . . It would swell, go down, swell, go down. I
felt a lump in my calf, my thigh, my groin area, and it would
come, it would go. Then some days I could walk on it, some
days I couldn't.” (Sanders Dep. p. 114)
received in-patient treatment at the hospital for 10 days.
(Sanders Dep. p. 123; Pl's Ex. 14) He was diagnosed with
severe cellulitis, abscess of leg, and necrotizing fasciitis,
and underwent three surgeries during his hospital stay.
(Pl's Ex. 14) Sanders testified:
Q: Have any of your physicians ever told you that the surgery
you received . . . back in June of 2013 was related to the