United States District Court, D. New Jersey
JOSE L. NIEVES, Plaintiff,
CORRECTIONAL FACILITY ESSEX COUNTY, et al., Defendants.
Susan D. Wigenton, United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on the motion for summary
judgment filed in this matter by Defendants
Flauhardy and Jackson. (ECF No. 47). Plaintiff, who is
proceeding pro se in this matter, did not file a
response to the motion. (ECF Docket Sheet). For the following
reasons, Defendants motion is granted in part and denied in
complaint in this matter is chiefly concerned with an assault
he suffered at the hands of another inmate, Anwan Latham, on
April 6, 2014, which Plaintiff contends arose out of
instigation by Defendant Flauhardy, a correctional officer at
the jail in which Plaintiff was then housed. When he was
interviewed by Essex County Correctional Facility
investigators regarding this incident in July 2014, Plaintiff
provided the following version of those events and the
background that led to them.
[Plaintiff] has been incarcerated at the Essex County Jail
since January 2013. He has been assigned to the infirmary
because he is a paraplegic, is wheelchair bound, and uses a
catheter. [Plaintiff] stated that he has never had a problem
with inmates or officers until the end of 2013. [Plaintiff]
stated that officer [Flauhardy] told several inmates that he
is incarcerated for molesting children. [Plaintiff] stated
that he has never been arrested for any type of sexual
charges, especially sexual charges involving children.
[When asked what was said to these other inmates, Plaintiff]
stated that officer [Flauhardy] stated to the inmates
“[Plaintiff] likes to play Santa Claus and have
children sit on his lap.” [When asked if [Flauhardy]
said anything else about sex with children, Plaintiff] stated
“no.” [Plaintiff] further stated that officer
[Flauhardy] never said anything directly to him regarding
child molestation. [Plaintiff] stated that officer
[Flauhardy] was moved from the infirmary in January 2014.
[When asked about the assault, Plaintiff] stated that he and
inmate Latham were assigned to the infirmary together and did
not have any problems. Inmate Latham was re-assigned to a
different unit. Inmate Latham was re-assigned back to the
infirmary and back on the same unit with [Plaintiff]. Inmate
Latham stated to him, “I heard you like being Santa
Claus and having kids sit on your lap.” [Plaintiff] and
Latham began arguing and a physical altercation occurred
inside cell 200. After the fight ended, Inmate Latham walked
out of cell 200. [Plaintiff] did not immediately tell any
custody staff of the incident. He was later questioned by a
Sergeant regarding this incident. [Plaintiff] stated that he
fell from his wheelchair while reaching for something and
hurt his eye.
[When asked why he didn't tell the Sergeant he had been
assaulted, Plaintiff] stated “I did not want to get
Inmate Latham in any trouble.” [Plaintiff further
declined to press charges against Latham.] [When asked if he
had] ever heard officer [Flauhardy] state anything to him or
any other inmate regarding his charges or child molestation,
[Plaintiff] stated “no.”
(Document 2 attached to ECF No. 47 at 21-22). Because the
record only contains the statement Plaintiff gave to the
investigator and that report is written in a way that does
not make plain what exactly Plaintiff said, it is not clear
if Plaintiff denied ever having overheard Flauhardy make the
Santa Claus comment but never heard any other allegations of
molestation, or whether Plaintiff denied having even heard
that comment. In the notice of claim form he submitted to the
jail, however, Plaintiff stated that Latham indicated that
Flauhardy had told him the Santa Claus statement.
(Id. at 14). As a result of the alleged assault by
Latham, Plaintiff received two black eyes and was unable to
open one of his eyes for at least a day afterwards.
(Id. at 12).
Latham was interviewed, he admitted that the fight started
after he told Plaintiff he had “heard some shit about
[Plaintiff]”, which led to a physical confrontation.
(Id. at 23). Latham did not detail what information
he heard to the investigator. (Id.). Latham's
disciplinary records indicate that he has had frequent
administrative charges, several of which involved his being
verbally abusive or engaging in fights with other inmates.
(Id. at 30-48). While Officer Flauhardy denied ever
making any statement about Plaintiff's charges to Latham,
including the Santa Claus comment, he did acknowledge that he
and Plaintiff had a somewhat antagonistic relationship, which
he characterized as being the result of verbal abuse
Plaintiff hurled at him following an altercation between
Flauhardy and another inmate. (Id. at 24).
second claim, which is directed towards all Defendants other
than Flauhardy, Plaintiff contends that he was denied
adequate medical treatment when, on at least one occasion,
Officer Jackson and two members of the medical staff,
non-moving Defendants Nurse Supervisor Gwen and Nurse Maria,
denied him access to fresh urinary catheters. (Id.
at 7-8). Although Petitioner alleges that medical staff
denied him catheters on multiple occasions leading to urinary
tract infections and other pain and suffering, Plaintiff
identifies only one instance in which Defendant Jackson was
involved - an incident which occurred on August 27, 2014.
(Id. at 7). According to Plaintiff, “at
approximately 5 pm [he] asked C.O. Jackson to open his cell
door because he needed to get a urine catheter from his cell
and use the toilet, ” a request Jackson apparently
denied. (Id.). Presumably, this caused Plaintiff
some discomfort. Although medical records within the record
confirm both that Plaintiff uses catheters and that he on at
least one occasion contracted an infection, (see Id.
at 12-13), there is nothing in the record indicating what, if
any, harm befell Plaintiff because of Jackson's refusal
to let Plaintiff into his cell on August 27, 2014.
to Rule 56, a court should grant a motion for summary
judgment where the record “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). The moving party bears the initial burden of
“identifying those portions of the pleadings
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. A factual
dispute is material “if it bears on an essential
element of the plaintiff's claim, ” and is genuine
if “a reasonable jury could find in favor of the
non-moving party.” Blunt v. Lower Merion School
Dist., 767 F.3d 247, 265 (3d Cir. 2014). In deciding a
motion for summary judgment a district court must “view
the underlying facts and all reasonable inferences therefrom
in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion,
” Id., but must not make credibility
determinations or engage in any weighing of the evidence.