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Pierce v. Pillai

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 15, 2016



          Vanessa L. Bryant United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, Andrew Pierce (“Pierce”), incarcerated and proceeding pro se, has filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendant Dr. Omprakash Pillai (“Pillai”), alleging deliberate indifference to a serious medical need in connection with Plaintiff's exposure to Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (“MRSA”). The Defendant argues summary judgment is appropriate based on (i) the statute of limitations, (ii) Plaintiff's failure to exhaust his administrative remedies, and (iii) lack of evidence that Defendant was deliberately indifferent to a serious medical need. For the reasons that follow, the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         I. Factual Background

         The following facts are based on the exhibits submitted with the parties' summary judgment briefing.

         Plaintiff has required hemodialysis, three times per week, since 2003. [Dkt. No. 24, Ex. B (Plaintiff's Deposition) at 13.] Plaintiff was first incarcerated on June 22, 2011, and was moved to the McDougall Walker Correctional Center (“McDougall”) on July 7, 2011. Id. at 11-12. While incarcerated, Plaintiff's hemodialysis was conducted by the Renal Group. [Dkt. No. 24, Ex. C at 1-2 (Pillai Affidavit).] Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee throughout the relevant time period. [Plaintiff's Deposition at 12.]

         On September 4, 2011, after Plaintiff's hemodialysis treatment, the injection site on Plaintiff's arm began to hurt, and “started oozing.” [Dkt. No. 24, Ex. D (Plaintiff's Medical File) at 30.] The injection site, the Arteriovenous fistula (“AV fistula”), began to bleed more profusely and prison staff applied pressure, contacted the on-call doctor, and transported Plaintiff to the John Dempsey Hospital Emergency Room at the University of Connecticut for evaluation and treatment. [Id. at 30; Pillai Affidavit at 1.] The emergency room staff determined Plaintiff's AV fistula ruptured while his arm was being cleaned, causing approximately 450 milliliters of blood loss. [Plaintiff's Medical File at 29.] Hospital staff surgically repaired Plaintiff's AV fistula, placed a stent, and administered hemodialysis. [Id. at 27; Pillai Affidavit at 1.] When he was discharged on September 7, 2011, the treating physician prescribed “Tylenol No. 3 for pain if needed, otherwise his medications have not changed except for the antibiotics dosing which is given by [the] Renal g[group] during dialysis.” [Plaintiff's Medical File at 231.] The physician did not note an infection at that time. Id.

         Plaintiff testified at his deposition that he “was told by the doctor at UConn that I was supposed to receive antibiotics once I returned back to the facility.” [Plaintiff's Deposition at 33.] Plaintiff testified that by September 10, 2011 he had not received the antibiotics the University of Connecticut doctor had referenced, despite having filed “several request slips.” Id. at 33. Accordingly, Plaintiff testified he “filed a grievance against Dr. Pillai for not giving me antibiotics prescribed by the doctor at UConn” on September 10, 2011. Id. at 33. Plaintiff stated he received no response to his grievance, and was not allowed to keep a copy of his grievance. Id. at 34.

         Defendant, conversely, submits the affidavit of Nikia M. Henderson, who maintains the Medical Grievance Log at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution. [Dkt. No. 24, Ex. G.] Ms. Henderson stated in her sworn affidavit that she “reviewed records of all inmate medical grievances and grievance appeals at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution from September 1, 2011 to September 1, 2012, ” and found that Plaintiff “did not file any medical grievances” during that time. Id. at 1. A copy of the Medical Grievance Log from September 1, 2011 to September 1, 2012 was attached with Ms. Henderson's affidavit. Consistent with Ms. Henderson's affidavit, it does not include an entry memorializing a grievance by Plaintiff in September 2011. [Id., Ex. A (Medical Grievance Log).]

         On September 11, Plaintiff reported feeling something “pop off” his injection site, causing additional bleeding. Plaintiff's Medical File at 27. The on-call doctor ordered the prison clinic to monitor Plaintiff overnight and gave Plaintiff pain medication. Id. at 26-27. On September 12, Defendant Pillai examined Plaintiff, found no evidence of further bleeding, and discharged Plaintiff with an order to re-examine him in seven days. [Id. at 26; Pillai Affidavit at 2.]

         On September 14, 2011, Dr. Syed Naqvi examined Plaintiff in the prison infirmary. [Pillai Affidavit at 2.] Dr. Naqvi determined Plaintiff's AV fistula wound was healing, but noted a low-grade fever signaling infection, took a swab of the wound for laboratory testing, and gave Plaintiff Ciprofloxacin (“Cipro”), an antibiotic. [Id. at 2; Plaintiff's Medical File at 26.] On September 16, 2011, UCHC notified the prison clinic that Plaintiff's wound culture results tested positive for MRSA. [Pillai Affidavit at 2; Plaintiff's Medical File at 25.] However, Plaintiff was only notified that he had a “small infection, ” and the doctors were going to “knock it out” by administering Vancomycin, an intravenous antibiotic, with his hemodialysis treatment for six weeks. [Dkt. No. 24, Ex. B (Plaintiff's Deposition) at 30; Plaintiff's Medical File at 114.]

         Defendant submitted a signed affidavit stating he told Plaintiff his wound tested positive for MRSA on September 18, 2011. [Pillai Affidavit at 2.] However, Plaintiff testified at his deposition that he was not informed he had MRSA on that date. [Plaintiff's Deposition at 30.]

         On October 7, 2011, prison medical staff took another blood sample, and on October 8, the University of Connecticut Health Center reported the sample was still positive for MRSA. [Plaintiff's Medical File at 123.] Plaintiff was taken to the John Dempsey Hospital Emergency Room for evaluation and testing. Id. at 21. Plaintiff returned to MacDougall-Walker on October 9, where medical staff administered regular antibiotics, dressing changes, and blood tests. [Id. at 17-18, 21 (documenting daily visits to the prison infirmary from October 10 - 18); Pillai Affidavit at 3 (stating “medical staff examined Mr. Pierce each day during dressing changes and continued with swabs and blood testing”).]

         On October 22, 2011, lab results indicated Plaintiff still had MRSA. [Pillai Affidavit at 3; Plaintiff's Medical File at 17.] Plaintiff's Medical File indicates Plaintiff was taken to John Dempsey Hospital for treatment and evaluation that day. [Pillai Affidavit at 3; Plaintiff's Medical File at 17.] However, Plaintiff submits what appears to be a log of his movements between medical facilities, which indicates Plaintiff was not taken to the hospital that day. [Dkt. No. 28, Ex. 3 (Log of Movements).]

         The log of Plaintiff's movements does indicate he was admitted to the hospital on October 26, 2011. Id. Plaintiff's medical file also indicates Plaintiff was admitted on October 26, because a dialysis nurse was unable to access Plaintiff's AV Fistula due to clotting. [Plaintiff's Medical File, 14-15, 350.] Plaintiff remained hospitalized through November 16, 2011. [Id. at 350; Log of Movements.] During his hospitalization, on November 8, 2011, Plaintiff underwent surgery to remove the infected AV fistula and repair the area so Plaintiff could continue receiving hemodialysis. [Plaintiff's Medical File at 352-53.] Plaintiff states he first learned of his MRSA diagnosis during this quarantine. ...

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