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Siminausky v. Starkowski

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 20, 2016

JANE STARKOWSKI, et al., Defendants.


VANESSA L. BRYANT, District Judge.

The plaintiff, Andrew Siminausky, currently incarcerated at the Cheshire Correctional Institution in Cheshire, Connecticut, has filed a complaint pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2000). The complaint was filed on February 4, 2015, and the plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on March 5, 2015. The plaintiff names twenty-three defendants: Jane Starkowski, Correctional Managed Health Care Providers, Nurse Francis, Dr. Monica Farinella, Dr. Omprakash Pillai, Supervisor E. Dolan, Health Services Administrator Lightner, Nurse Joy Burns, Nurse Tim Granahan, Podiatrist Henry Fedus, Supervisor Patti Wollenhauph, Dr. Michael Clements, Correctional Officer Turner, Correctional Officer Peters, Addiction Services Counselor Willie McCreary, Correctional Officer Alxander, Acting Warden Barone, Captain Hall, Warden Chapdelaine, District Administrator Quiros, Warden John Tarascio, and Warden Peter Murphy. The plaintiff asserts claims for violations of his constitutional rights, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (2000), the court must review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id . In reviewing a pro se complaint, the court must assume the truth of the allegations, and interpret them liberally to "raise the strongest arguments [they] suggest[]." Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007). Although detailed allegations are not required, the complaint must include sufficient facts to afford the defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and to demonstrate a right to relief. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Conclusory allegations are not sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The plaintiff must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. But "[a] document filed pro se is to be liberally construed and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Boykin v. KeyCorp., 21 F.3d 202, 214 (2d Cir. 2008) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)).

I. Allegations

The allegations in the complaint span the period from February 2012, through December 2014 and are not presented in chronological order. The defendants are from four different correctional facilities: MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution, Corrigan Correctional Institution, Osborn Correctional Institution and Willard Cybulski Correctional Institution.

The plaintiff suffers from Raynaud's Phenomenon, a circulatory disease that results in diminished blood flow to the extremities. The condition causes the plaintiff to suffer severe pain in his hands and feet and prevents him from participating in programs or activities in cold, damp and rainy climates or air-conditioned facilities.

The plaintiff alleges the following facts.

On February 6, 2012, the plaintiff filed an administrative remedy. The plaintiff alleges that defendant Francis "checked off the exhaustion of remedies box" thereby denying him a right of appeal, but the attached document does not support this allegation. On February 8, 2012, the plaintiff filed a second medical grievance which defendant Francis failed to answer. This grievance stated that the plaintiff lost blood circulation in his extremities during outdoor recreation in 30 degree weather.

On February 14, 2012, the plaintiff saw Dr. Pillai. The plaintiff complained about the lack of medical items he was provided to protect his extremities. Dr. Pillai agreed to look into the matter but would not record the plaintiff's complaints in his medical records. Dr. Pillai conditioned his medical order for soft restraints on approval by custody staff.

In March 2012, private attorney Jane Starkowski sent the plaintiff a letter in which she stated that custodial staff had approved use of soft restraints to address the plaintiff's condition.

On March 14, 2012, the plaintiff was transferred from MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution to Corrigan Correctional Institution. He was placed in metal restraints and, allegedly to cover-up staff misconduct, defendant Farinella discontinued the soft-restraint order without examining the plaintiff. On March 27, 2012, the plaintiff was visited by an attorney retained by his family. Following the visit, the plaintiff was transferred. Many of the plaintiff's documents were stolen when officers packed up his property for the transfer.

In April 2012, defendant Turner searched the plaintiff's cell and confiscated the plaintiff's gloves. Defendant Turner stated that they were work gloves and the plaintiff did not have a prison job. Defendant Turner refused to review the plaintiff's property matrix which referenced medically-issued gloves. The plaintiff complained to the warden who referred the request to the medical department. The medical staff stated that there was no glove order. After a visit with his attorney, the plaintiff was issued black cotton gloves by the medical department.

The plaintiff returned to MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution on April 27, 2012. Upon his arrival, defendant Peters confiscated the black gloves. The plaintiff sent a request to defendant Warden Murphy seeking return of the gloves. The unit manager called the plaintiff to his office and told him that Warden Murphy stated he could have the black gloves. The plaintiff also requested the white gloves that previously had been confiscated. Ultimately, the plaintiff received the white gloves and learned that the black gloves had been discarded.

On May 14, 2012, the plaintiff filed a medical remedy in response to Dr. Farinella discontinuing the soft-restraint order. Defendant Burns responded that the soft-restraint order had been renewed in February 2012 and that the plaintiff should address these issues with the medical department rather than by grievance. She failed to address the recent discontinuance of the order. The plaintiff raised the issue at sick call but a soft-restraint order was not added to his medical chart. The plaintiff also was denied a bucket in which to soak his feet. The plaintiff then filed another medical grievance. Defendant Burns stated that the plaintiff would be scheduled to see a doctor.

On November 21, 2012, the plaintiff was transferred to Osborn Correctional Institution. Defendant Granahan failed to ask the plaintiff if he needed any reasonable accommodations during medical orientation or advise the plaintiff of his rights under the ADA. When the plaintiff asked for ADA forms, defendant Granahan stated that the plaintiff would see a doctor the following day. There was a six-month wait to see a doctor.

In December 2012, defendant McCreary denied the plaintiff access to an anger management program that plaintiff contends was required for parole eligibility, because the plaintiff was wearing his gloves.

In August 2013, the plaintiff refused a transfer to an air-conditioned facility. Defendant Alxander placed the plaintiff in handcuffs and escorted him to restrictive housing. During the escort, defendant Alexander tried to make the plaintiff fall. After placing the plaintiff in his cell, defendant Alexander pulled the plaintiff's hands through the food trap causing pain in the plaintiff's neck and shoulders. The medical department did not deem this an emergency and did not immediately provide pain medication.

On an unspecified date, the plaintiff was transferred back to MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution. In September 2013, the plaintiff submitted a request to Warden Murphy regarding his pain. Defendant Acting Warden Barone responded to the request but did not respond to a follow-up request regarding all of the plaintiff's medical concerns. The plaintiff received no response to a September 2013 medical request regarding treatment for Raynaud's Phenomenon or to September 2013 requests to the ADA coordinator.

On March 31, 2014, the plaintiff sent a request to Warden Chapdelaine to have his medical level reduced to level 2. On April 7, 2014, defendant Dolan responded to this request and refused to order a level reduction for reasons with which the plaintiff disagreed. In follow-up communications, defendant Dolan acknowledged that the plaintiff did not require a climate controlled facility but declined to become involved in custody placement issues. After repeated requests, defendant Dolan reconsidered her medical classification decision and stated that the plaintiff's medical level could be reduced to 2, subject to increase in the future depending on the level of medical care the plaintiff required. Although defendant Dolan noted in the plaintiff's medical file on May 22, 2014, that she would lower the plaintiff's medical level to 2, documents from August 2014 indicate that his level again was 3.

In April and May 2014, the plaintiff encountered difficulty obtaining gloves. His gloves were confiscated during a March 2014 cell search and were held in defendant Lightner's office. Custody staff informed him that the gloves were issued by the medical department, but ...

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