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Odums v. South Woods State Prison

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 21, 2019

ELONZIO ODUMS, Plaintiff,
v.
SOUTH WOODS STATE PRISON, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          RENÉE MARIE BUMB United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court upon Defendant Charles Donaghy's (“Defendant”) motion for summary judgment, filed on July 5, 2018. (ECF No. 39.) Plaintiff did not respond to Defendant's motion. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND On December 9, 2016, Plaintiff Elonzio Odums (“Plaintiff”), who was then incarcerated at South Woods State Prison, filed a pro se civil rights complaint (Compl., ECF No. 1) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the New Jersey Civil Rights Act (“NJCRA”)[1] against South Woods State Prison and employees of the New Jersey Department of Corrections. Upon review of the complaint, the Court noted that on September 26, 2016, Plaintiff had filed another civil rights action in the District of New Jersey, alleging certain facts identical to those raised in this action. (Opinion, ECF No. 3 at 2 n.1, citing Odums v. New Jersey Department of Corrections, et al., Civil Action No. 16-5950(RBK) (D.N.J. Sept. 26, 2016)). The Court struck the duplicative allegations in this action. (Id.)

         The Court then screened the complaint for dismissal, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(b) and 1915A. The Court permitted one Eighth Amendment claim to proceed against Defendants Charles Donaghy and Sergeant Vernell and dismissed the remainder of the complaint. (Opinion, ECF No. 3; Order; ECF No. 4.) Only Defendant Donaghy was served with the complaint. (Summons Returned Executed, ECF No. 8.)

         Plaintiff filed a motion to amend the complaint and sought several extensions of time in which to do so. (Mot. to Amend, ECF No. 13.) The Court ultimately denied Plaintiff's motion to amend without prejudice because Plaintiff failed to submit a proposed amended complaint. (Order, ECF No. 19.) On December 5, 2017, Defendant Donaghy filed an Answer. (Answer, ECF No. 21.) Plaintiff never filed an amended complaint.

         On April 17, 2018, Plaintiff sought appointment of pro bono counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1). (Mot. to Appoint Counsel, ECF No. 30.) The Court denied the motion without prejudice. (Order, ECF No. 34.)

         On May 22 and again on May 31, 2018, Defendant informed the Court that Plaintiff had failed to respond to discovery in this matter. (Letters, ECF Nos. 35, 36.) The Court then extended the time in which to file summary judgment motions (Order, ECF No. 37), and Defendant filed his motion for summary judgment. (Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 39.) Plaintiff did not respond. II. THE COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff asserted the following facts against Defendant in his complaint. Plaintiff's allegations against Sergeant Vernell, who was not served are included for context. On June 21, 2016, Plaintiff was incarcerated at South Woods State Prison, and went to see a doctor. (Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶¶9, 13.) Plaintiff was confined to a wheelchair because one of his legs was amputated below the knee. (Id., ¶14, 17.) The doctor scraped the bottom of Plaintiff's foot and told Plaintiff not to walk or stand for a few days. (Id.)

         When Plaintiff returned to the “minimum unit” after seeing the doctor, Defendant told Plaintiff to get in the “boss chair (metal detector chair).” (Id., ¶¶15, 16.) Plaintiff responded that Dr. Farrow had just scraped his foot, causing it to bleed, and because Plaintiff's other leg was amputated below the knee, he could not stand. (Id., ¶17.) Defendant told Plaintiff he had to get in the chair. (Id., ¶18.) Sergeant Vernell appeared and told Plaintiff if he did not get in the chair, he would be going to “lockup.” (Id., ¶20.) Sergeant Vernell denied Plaintiff's request for inmate assistance to get in the boss chair. (Id., ¶19.)

         Plaintiff tried to get in the chair but fell to the ground because he could not put pressure on his one leg. (Id., ¶20.) Sergeant Vernell denied Plaintiff's request for assistance and it took Plaintiff ten minutes to get up on his own. (Id., ¶21.) Plaintiff alleged that Defendant violated the Eighth Amendment under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the New Jersey Civil Rights Act, by deliberate indifference to his medical needs. (Id., ¶1.) III. DEFENDANT'S STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS

         Defendant submitted the following “material facts to which there exists no genuine dispute, ” pursuant to Local Civil Rule 56.1.

1. Plaintiff, Elonzio Odums (“Plaintiff” or “Odums”), was an inmate formerly incarcerated in various New Jersey Department of Corrections (“NJDOC”) facilities throughout the State from 2014 through 2017. (Inmate Face Sheet and Progress Notes, Linen Decl., Exhibit A, 1-13). [ECF No. 39-4.]
2. At all times relevant to the Complaint, Plaintiff was incarcerated at South Woods State Prison (“SWSP”) in Bridgeton, New Jersey. (Id., Ex. A at p. 7).
3. In accordance with N.J.A.C. 10A:8-1.1 to -3.6, SWSP, the NJDOC facility in which Plaintiff was incarcerated from the time of the alleged events of June 21, 2016 through the time he filed his Complaint on December 9, 2016, has adopted the Inmate Handbook outlining the Inmate Remedy System Procedure, and all inmates receive said handbook as part of their orientation. (Linen Decl., ¶¶ 3, 5, Ex. B, C).
4. The Inmate Remedy System Procedure is a mechanism for the inmate population to lodge complaints, document problems and offer suggestions to the correctional facility administration. (Linen Decl., ¶ 8, Ex. C).
5. The Procedure is designed to provide inmates with a confidential method to bring issues that may exist within the correctional facility to the attention of the administration for resolution. (Linen Decl., ¶ 9, Ex. C).
6. Inmates are required to utilize the multi-part Inmate Remedy System before applying to the courts for relief. (Linen Decl., ¶ 10, Ex. C).
7. Inmates can submit remedy requests electronically or can request an Inmate Remedy System Form from their housing unit officer, social worker or the Inmate Law ...

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