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Baines v. Pillai

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 15, 2016



          Charles S. Haight, Jr. Senior United States District Judge

         The Plaintiff, Christopher Baines, is currently incarcerated at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution ("MacDougall-Walker"). He filed a civil rights complaint in forma pauperis pursuant 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Dr. M. Pillai and Nurse James Shortridge. The Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, must undertake an initial review when a plaintiff requests to proceed in forma pauperis to determine whether the Complaint sets forth any claims upon which relief may be granted. This Order serves as the Court's review under §1915A.

         I. Facts

         The Plaintiff suffers from type 1 diabetes. Complaint, ¶ 2. He arrived at MacDougall-Walker from Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution on April 1, 2016. Complaint, ¶ 1. Upon his arrival, the Plaintiff asked the processing officer for a diabetic snack and was given cereal without milk. Complaint, ¶ 2. Plaintiff was then processed through medical by a male nurse. Complaint, ¶ 3. He informed medical intake personnel of his condition and sensitivity to regular insulin. Complaint, ¶ 3. Plaintiff also informed the medical intake personnel that before his incarceration, he was prescribed Novolog Humulin insulin by the West Haven V.A. Hospital to reduce the occurrences of low blood sugar seizures. Complaint, ¶¶ 4, 11. The nurse informed Plaintiff that the Department of Corrections ("D.O.C.") would not honor that prescription. Complaint, ¶ 4.

         On April 2, 2016, at approximately 5:15 a.m., Plaintiff was given a morning dose of insulin. Complaint, ¶ 5. Plaintiff asked if 5:15 a.m. was the usual time that insulin was dispensed, and the nurse replied that it was and that this time was protocol. Complaint, ¶ 5. Plaintiff then asked when breakfast was served, and the nurse replied that breakfast was at 7:00 a.m. Complaint, ¶ 6. He then explained to the nurse that this would leave him susceptible to diabetic low blood sugar seizures. Complaint, ¶ 6. He also explained to the nurse that Type 1 dependent diabetics are advised by doctors to eat fifteen to twenty minutes after insulin injections. Complaint, ¶ 7. The nurse informed Plaintiff that eating at 7:00 a.m. was protocol. Plaintiff asked for a diabetic snack to hold him over until breakfast, but the nurse refused and told him to submit a written request to medical. Complaint, ¶ 8.

         Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff suffered a low blood sugar seizure attack and a "Code White" was called. Complaint, ¶ 9. Plaintiff was taken out of his unit by stretcher. Complaint, ¶ 9. Once the Plaintiff was stabilized, he was informed that his blood sugar registered as "lo" on the glucometer, which means his blood sugar was below "20." Complaint, ¶ 10. Plaintiff asserts that because of the staff's adherence to protocol, their negligence, and their indifference to his medical needs, he could have died. Complaint, ¶ 10. Plaintiff, after the first seizure, informed the staff that he has been an insulin dependent Type 1 diabetic since September 1983, and that his suffers from hypoglycemia unawareness, meaning he no longer receives low blood sugar warning signs and is often unaware that his glucose levels are dangerously low. Complaint, ¶ 12.

         The Plaintiff suffered three further severe low blood sugar seizures before Dr. Pillai evaluated him on May 17, 2016. Complaint, ¶ 13. The Plaintiff, prior to his visit with Dr. Pillai, had made several written requests to see a physician, and submitted one Urgent Emergency Order, which was ignored for over seventy-two hours, breaking protocol. Complaint, ¶ 13. Dr. Pillai stated that the chart did not reflect the morning low blood sugar readings that Plaintiff experienced. Complaint, ¶ 14. Plaintiff told Dr. Pillai that he thought that the nurses may have only documented his glucose levels after he was given glucagon shots, glucose gel sticks, and orange juice, which were resulting in high glucose levels. Complaint, ¶ 14.

         On May 18, 21, and 23, 2016, the plaintiff suffered severe further low blood sugar seizures and his blood sugar registered as "lo." Complaint, ¶¶ 15-19. Plaintiff also alleges that the medical staff is indifferent to his need to not use regular insulin, which for him produces variations in his glucose levels which can result in seizures. Complaint, ¶ 19.

         On May 31, 2016, Nurse James Shortridge pricked the plaintiff's finger to draw blood to test for his insulin level. Complaint, ¶ 20. Before the results were ready the Plaintiff became incoherent and was in and out of consciousness. Complaint, ¶ 21. Plaintiff recalled people yelling "get in the wheelchair" however, he could not respond because he was in and out of consciousness. Id. Officers handcuffed the Plaintiff and transported him in a wheelchair to the restrictive housing unit. Complaint, ¶ 24. A nurse tested the plaintiff's glucose level and it was low. Id.

         Plaintiff, after being given a glucose gel stick, asked what had happened. Complaint, ¶ 25. He was told by a corrections officer that he had caused a disturbance. Complaint, ¶ 25. Plaintiff apologized for anything he might have said or done while having low blood sugar. Complaint, ¶ 25. The Correction Officer told him he would speak to the medical personnel and act accordingly. Complaint, ¶ 25. Plaintiff spent ten days in the Restrictive Housing Unit ("RHU") due to this incident. Complaint, ¶ 26. In the disciplinary report, Nurse Shortridge stated that he gave the Plaintiff several orders to return to the M1 Unit, that Plaintiff refused medication, ignored staff orders, and that Plaintiff became agitated and aggressive. Complaint ¶¶ 27-29. Plaintiff alleges that this reaction is a common result of low blood sugar. Complaint, ¶ 31.

         Plaintiff also alleges that on June 23, 2016, he suffered a further diabetic blood sugar seizure. Complaint, ¶ 32. Medical was called, and his blood sugar level was "22, " which is low. He was given four glucose gel sticks and one glucogon shot. Id. Thereafter, his blood sugar level stabilized at "99" and he was able to return to his unit. Id.

         II. Standard of Review

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the court must review prisoner civil complaints against governmental actors and "dismiss ... any portion of [a] complaint [that] is frivolous, malicious, or 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. A complaint is "frivolous" under § 1915 if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); see also Nance v. Kelly, 912 F.2d 605, 606 (2d Cir. 1990) (an action is considered "frivolous" when either: (1) "the 'factual contentions are clearly baseless, ' such as when allegations are the product of delusion or fantasy;" or (2) "the claim is 'based on an indisputably meritless legal theory'") (quoting Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327)). In particular, "[a] finding of factual frivolousness is appropriate when the facts alleged rise to the level of the irrational or the wholly incredible." Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992). A claim is thus factually frivolous "if the facts alleged are clearly baseless, a category encompassing allegations that are fanciful, fantastic, and delusional." Id. (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).

         Furthermore, a claim is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory when either the claim lacks an arguable basis in law, Benitez v. Wolff, 907 F.2d 1293, 1295 (2d Cir. 1990) (per curiam), or a dispositive defense clearly exists on the face of the complaint, Pino v. Ryan, 49 F.3d 51, 53 (2d Cir. 1995). In reviewing a complaint to determine whether it states a viable claim, the court "accept[s] as true all factual allegations in the complaint" and draws inferences from these allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Cruz v. Gomez,202 F.3d 593, 596 (2d Cir. 2000). Dismissal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is then only appropriate when "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would ...

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