United States District Court, D. New Jersey
B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Robert Webster, is a former prisoner that was incarcerated in
the New Jersey State Correctional System. Plaintiff, through
counsel, filed a second amended complaint asserting civil
rights claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff
also alleges violations of the Americans with Disabilities
Act (“ADA”) and the New Jersey Law against
Discrimination (“NJLAD”). Presently pending
before the Court are two motions for summary judgment, one
filed by the State of New Jersey and the New Jersey
Department of Corrections (collectively the “State
Defendants”) (ECF No. 91), and the other filed by
Rutgers University and William Briglia, D.O. (collectively
the “Medical Defendants”) (ECF No. 94). Both the
State and Medical Defendants have also moved to seal certain
exhibits submitted with their motion papers. (ECF Nos. 92,
95, & 110). Plaintiff opposes both motions for summary
judgment, but not the motions to seal. For the following
reasons, both the State and Medical Defendants' motions
for summary judgment are denied. Additionally, the State and
Medical Defendants' motions to seal are granted.
noted in this Court's previous opinion, this case centers
around Plaintiff's allegations that during his
incarceration he suffered a sudden yet persistent bilateral
arm paralysis that went untreated for the entirety of his
confinement. Upon being released from prison in July 2012,
Plaintiff was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
(“ALS”), which he contends was exacerbated by the
Defendants' failure to treat his condition. Plaintiff
also alleges that he was denied adequate living
accommodations, harassed, and ridiculed on account of his
alleges that on February 8, 2011, while incarcerated at
Bayside State Prison, he presented to the prison physician
with a sudden onset of paralysis in both arms. (See
ECF No. 46 at ¶ 25). Available medical records indicate
that Plaintiff complained of shoulder pain and experienced a
decreased range of motion in his hands in October 2011.
(See ECF No. 93 at pp. 257-58). Additionally,
medical staff observed a decreased range of motion in
Plaintiff's shoulders in November 2011. (See Id.
at p. 231). As a result of this observation, a lower bunk
restriction was ordered. (See Id. at pp. 232-33).
Plaintiff also complained to medical staff that he was unable
to lift his arms above shoulder height on December 29, 2011.
(See Id. at pp. 201-02).
available medical records show that Plaintiff's medical
condition became progressively worse. By April 2, 2012, Dr.
Briglia noted chronic arthritic changes and muscle atrophy of
Plaintiff's hands and shoulders as well as
Plaintiff's inability to lift his hands to shoulder
height. (See Id. at pp. 104-05). Following his
evaluation by Dr. Briglia, Plaintiff continued to complain to
the prison medical staff of his upper extremity weakness,
limited mobility, and the inability to lift his arms above
his head. (See Id. at pp. 48-53, 88-90, 100-02). At
a physical therapy appointment on June 21, 2012, Plaintiff
complained of muscle weakness, paresthesias, and tremors.
(See Id. at p. 26). The physical therapy records
also note that Plaintiff “states he has not been able
to move his arms since winter 2010. Weakness has advanced
… unable to lift arms up at all.” (See
id.). It was further observed that Plaintiff presented
with “severe bilateral [upper extremity] flaccid
paralysis and hand contracture” and that he was
“unable to move much, very limited function.”
claims that as a result of his arm paralysis, he required
assistance to participate in daily living activities such as
eating, bathing, dressing, brushing his teeth, and using the
restroom. (See ECF No. 46 at ¶ 39). Plaintiff
testified during his deposition that he requested assistance
and accommodations from the Department of Corrections
(“DOC”) and medical staff on a regular basis.
(See ECF No. 91, Ex. F at 39:20 to 40:12; ECF No.
100, Ex. D at 110:25 to 111:18). Despite these requests,
Plaintiff alleges that the State and Medical Defendants
failed to provide him with reasonable accommodations, such as
an aide to assist him with daily functions. (See Id.
at ¶¶ 36-37). As a result, Plaintiff contends that
he was forced to pay other inmates to help him engage in
these daily activities. (See Id. at ¶ 39).
argues that the State and Medical Defendants were both aware
of his disability and need for accommodations as his
condition was obvious and apparent to all who observed him.
In support of this contention, Plaintiff cites to his medical
records and an adjudication of disciplinary charge report
dated April 3, 2012, wherein a DOC hearing officer found
Plaintiff not guilty of committing the prohibited act of
possession or introduction of a weapon because he was unable
to physically reach the top locker area where the item was
found. (See ECF No. 91, Ex. P). Plaintiff also
asserts that the medical records do not include all of the
oral complaints he made to DOC and medical staff. In support
of this contention, Plaintiff points to the testimony of Dr.
Ralph Woodward, Rutgers' designee, wherein Dr. Woodward
stated that not all informal communications and complaints
generate documentation, thus indicating that the available
medical records are not necessarily the entire extent of the
communications between the inmate, medical personnel, and
prison staff. (See ECF No. 102, Ex. L at 97:22
to 98:8). Despite this knowledge, Plaintiff contends that the
State and Medical Defendants failed to provide him with any
reasonable accommodations to assist him in daily life
filed his initial complaint on February 7, 2013 in the Camden
County Superior Court naming the State, the DOC, and numerous
fictitious “John Does.” (See ECF No. 1,
Ex. B). On December 1, 2014, Plaintiff filed an amended
complaint naming Rutgers (incorrectly plead as University of
Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey) as a defendant and
replacing the John Doe defendants with the following
individuals: Niranjana Shah, M.D.; Jennifer Stackhouse, RN;
Judith Fidler, RN; Victoria D'Amico, RN; Natasha Auguste,
RN; Rhonda Kuteyi, RN; Francis Meo, M.D.; Stephanie Smith,
RN; Denise Schnee, RN; Sherita Latimore-Collier, M.D.; Roni
J. Feldman, APRN; Assistant Warden Lanoza; Sergeant Rojas;
Officer Ronald Long; Social Worker Eisinger; Sergeant Joynes;
Corrections Officer Battle; Corrections Officer Urgo; and
Associate Director Ronald Riggins. (See ECF No. 1,
Ex. A). Mr. Lanoza was never served with the amended
complaint. (See ECF No. 91 at p. 2).
February 27, 2015, the State Defendants removed
Plaintiff's amended complaint from the Camden County
Superior Court to the District Court of New Jersey.
(See ECF No. 1). On March 24 and April 20, 2015, the
State Defendants and the Medical Defendants, respectively,
filed motions to dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint.
(See ECF Nos. 3, 8). In an order and opinion dated
September 15, 2015, this Court partially granted the
Defendants' motions, dismissing Plaintiff's
Fourteenth Amendment, NJLAD, and ADA claims without prejudice
for failure to state a claim. (See ECF Nos. 17, 18).
December 30, 2015, Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint
asserting violations of the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth
Amendments brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the
individual defendants (Count I); violations of the New Jersey
Constitution against the individual defendants (Count II);
violations of the NJLAD against the institutional Defendants,
Mr. Lanoza, and Mr. Riggins (Count III); and violations of
Title II and Title III of the ADA against the institutional
Defendants (Count IV). (See ECF No. 46). The parties
have consented to the dismissal of all claims against the
individual Defendants except for Dr. Briglia and Mr. Lanoza.
(See ECF Nos. 53, 105, 108, 113).
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment
should be granted “if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Kreschollek v. S. Stevedoring
Co., 223 F.3d 202, 204 (3d Cir. 2000). In deciding a
motion for summary judgment, a court must construe all facts
and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. See Boyle v. Cnty. of Allegheny Pa., 139 F.3d
386, 393 (3d Cir. 1998). The moving party bears the burden of
establishing that no genuine issue of material fact remains.
See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23
(1986). “[W]ith respect to an issue on which the
nonmoving party bears the burden of proof ... the burden on
the moving party may be discharged by
‘showing'-that is, pointing out to the district
court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case.” Id. at 325.
moving party meets its threshold burden, the opposing party
must present actual evidence that creates a genuine issue as
to a material fact for trial. See Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 248; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) (setting
forth types of evidence on which nonmoving party must rely to
support its assertion that genuine issues of material fact
exist). “[U]nsupported allegations ... and pleadings
are insufficient to repel summary judgment.” Schoch
v. First Fid. Bancorporation, 912 F.2d 654, 657 (3d Cir.
1990); see also Scheidemantle v. Slippery Rock Univ.
State Sys. of Higher Educ., 470 F.3d 535, 538 (3d Cir.
2006) (“To prevail on a motion for summary judgment,
the nonmoving party needs to show specific facts such that a
reasonable jury could find in that party's favor, thereby
establishing a genuine issue of fact for trial.”).