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Britton v. State

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 25, 2016

STATE OF CONNECTICUT, et al., Defendants.


MICHAEL P. SHEA, District Judge.

Plaintiff Ashley Von Britton alleges that Osborn Correctional Institution ("Osborn"), Carol Chapdelaine (the warden at Osborn during Von Britton's term of incarceration), the University of Connecticut Health Center, and at least ten medical doctors (together "Defendants"), failed to diagnose him with diabetes, which resulted in the need to amputate his left leg.

In Count One, Von Britton alleges that Defendants' failure to provide him with adequate medical care violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Von Britton also brings state law claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count Two), negligent infliction of emotional distress (Count Three), and negligence (Count Four). Defendants move to dismiss Von Britton's Second Amended Complaint under Rules 12(b)(1), 12(b)(5) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 35.) The Court GRANTS Defendants' motion and dismisses Von Britton's Second Amended Complaint ("SAC").


The following facts are taken from the SAC and are accepted as true for the purpose of deciding Defendants' motion to dismiss.

Von Britton is a resident of New Haven, Connecticut. (SAC, ECF No. 33 ¶ 3.) At some unknown time he entered Osborn as an inmate. ( Id. ¶ 3.) Defendant Carol Chapdelaine was the warden of Osborn from 2009 through 2014 ( id. ¶ 5), and "generally controlled, managed, and oversaw any and all decisions as to medical care, transport, and treatment" at Osborn. ( Id. ¶ 30.) The University of Connecticut ("UCONN") Health Center "is the designated provider of medical care to the State of Connecticut Department of Corrections" ("DOC") ( id. ¶ 6), and the place where Von Britton alleges "many of the treatments, and failures to treat occurred." ( Id. ¶ 31.) Von Britton alleges that Leslie Millar Scout, Edward L. Pesanti, Cary Rob Freston, Chukwudi Ozo-onyali, Frederick L. Altice, Ganpat S. Chouhan, John Gittzus, Omprakash Pillai, Robert Bruce, Peter Immordino, and "several other unnamed" individuals were doctors at the UCONN Health Center and provided medical care to Von Britton ( id. ¶¶ 7-17) "during his term of incarceration." ( Id. ¶ 20.) Von Britton is suing these medical doctors in their individual and official capacities. ( Id ¶ 7-17.)

Prior to his incarceration at Osborn, Von Britton was diagnosed with HIV. ( Id. ¶ 18) He had never been diagnosed with diabetes. ( Id. ¶ 19.) Upon entering Osborn, Von Britton informed the DOC of his "physical condition, " and underwent a medical exam. ( Id. ¶ 21.) "Due to Von Britton's HIV diagnosis he was at the [UCONN Health Center] clinic... for treatment on a regular basis, and was repeatedly in contact with the medical professionals at the prison clinic." ( Id. ¶ 22.) Despite these regular visits, Von Britton alleges that "he was never subsequently given another physical examination nor was he given a glucometer test or diabetes screening as part of any other exam." ( Id. ¶ 23.) Von Britton alleges that he "was subjected to the pains of a terribly high blood sugar level... which include but are not limited to dryness of mouth, frequent urination, muscular pain, headaches, dizziness, organ failure, low circulation, loss of sensation and numbness." ( Id. ¶ 37.) It is not clear from the SAC when Von Britton experienced these symptoms.

On January 31, 2011, Von Britton was released from Osborn. ( Id. ¶ 24.) Shortly after his release, at some unspecified time in February 2011, he became ill and "was rushed to the hospital." ( Id. ¶ 25.) The hospital physicians told Von Britton that "his blood sugar level was 1400 and he was diagnosed with diabetes." ( Id. ¶ 26.) Because Von Britton had "an extremely large number of blood clots in his left leg, " the physicians informed Von Britton that they needed to amputate his left leg-below the knee-immediately. ( Id. ¶ 27.) Doctors amputated the leg in February 2011. ( Id. ¶ 28.)

Von Britton must now use a wheelchair and alleges that he "has suffered severe emotional distress as a result of his current condition and the way he is now treated by others." ( Id. ¶ 29.) He further alleges that his initial medical exam at Osborn "should have included a screening for diabetes and high blood sugar as part of its standard operating procedure." ( Id. ¶ 29.) Von Britton claims that, as a result of Defendants' "denial of proper medical treatment, " he "was permanently deprived of both his liberty without due process of law, and his right to equal protection of the laws... in violation of the Fifth, Eight[h] and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution...." ( Id. ¶ 37.) Von Britton "believes that the only viable rationale for said denial of treatment was... an ongoing plan to cut costs with regard to the treatment of prisoners." ( Id. ¶ 45.)

Von Britton filed his original complaint against the State of Connecticut and Osborn on January 31, 2014. (ECF No. 1.) His First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), filed on May 14, 2014, removed the State of Connecticut as a defendant, and replaced it with two new defendants: Chapdelaine and UCONN Health Center. (ECF No. 7.) Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the FAC on February 13, 2015. (ECF No. 27.) After Defendants filed their motion to dismiss, the Court gave Von Britton an opportunity to file a second amended complaint "to address the alleged defects discussed in Defendants' memorandum of law, " (ECF No. 29), and he did so on May 11, 2015. (SAC, ECF No. 33.) In addition to the defendants named in the first amended complaint, the SAC added the medical doctor defendants. ( Id. ¶ 37.) The Court then denied Defendants' first motion to dismiss as moot. (ECF No. 36.) On June 15, 2015, Defendants renewed their motion to dismiss the SAC under Rules 12(b)(1), 12(b)(5), and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 35.) Von Britton did not respond to Defendants' renewed motion to dismiss, and the deadline for doing so-July 2, 2015-has long since passed.

In Count One, Von Britton seeks judgment in his favor, compensatory damages in the amount of $5, 000, 000 and punitive damages of $5, 000, 000, plus costs, fees, and any "such actual relief deemed to be just and equitable." (SAC ¶ 37.) In Counts Two, Three, and Four, Von Britton alleges state law claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligence, respectively ( id. ¶¶ 38-53), for which he also seeks money damages. ( Id. ¶¶ 45, 48, 53.)


A. Rule 12(b)(1) Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction Over Claims Against State

In resolving a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), the district court must take all uncontroverted facts in the complaint (or petition) as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the party asserting jurisdiction. But [w]here jurisdictional facts are placed in dispute, the court has the power and obligation to decide issues of fact by reference to evidence outside the pleadings, such as affidavits. In that case, the party asserting subject matter jurisdiction has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that it exists.

Tandon v. Captain's Cove Marina of Bridgeport, Inc., 752 F.3d 239, 243 (2d Cir.2014) (citations and ...

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