United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
R. UNDERHILL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Riddick, currently confined at Northern Correctional
Institution in Somers, Connecticut, filed this case pro
se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Riddick alleges that the
defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his serious
medical needs. Riddick names as defendants Director of Health
Services Kathy Maurer, former Warden Edward Maldonado, Warden
William Mulligan, Health Services Administrator Brien Libel,
Dr. Carson Wright, Nurse Vikki Scruggs, Nurse Barbra Savoie
and Nurse Ellen Durko. The complaint was filed on December 8,
2016. Riddick's motion to proceed in forma
pauperis was granted on December 15, 2016.
section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code, I 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. 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
plausible claim 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. Nevertheless, it is
well-established that “[p]ro se
complaints ‘must be construed liberally and interpreted
to raise the strongest arguments that they
suggest.'” Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d
399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau
of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see
also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir.
2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro
January 22, 2016, Riddick was diagnosed with degenerative
disc and joint disease in his neck and shoulders. He also was
diagnosed with “curvilinear 1.5 cm metal density
overlies the medial superior scapula spine” in both
shoulders and “linear 1.2 cm metal density to the left
manubrium sternum.” ECF No. 1, ¶ 11. On August 19,
2016, Riddick was diagnosed with a serious hip issue, and on
November 8, 2016, with sciatic nerve syndrome. In addition,
Riddick has been diagnosed with myopia and astigmatism in
both eyes with his right eye deteriorating faster than his
result of these conditions, Riddick experiences severe pain
in three parts of his spine every day; muscle spasms,
numbness, tingling and pain in his left shoulder frequently
throughout the day; muscle spasms, tingling and pain in his
left hip, left lower back and left knee frequently throughout
the day; a combination of sharp, stabbing and throbbing pains
that travel down his left arm and left leg including his hand
and foot frequently throughout each day; and multiple pinched
nerves in his neck and shoulder area that cause extreme pain
and limited mobility several times per month. Riddick's
pain causes him limited mobility and he can no longer see
from his right eye. Although Riddick has been prescribed
glasses, he cannot wear them because the strain to his right
eye causes him to experience “painful knife-like
slices” to his eye. Id., ¶ 23. In
addition, the glasses dull and narrow his vision and make
objects appear smaller than they are.
cannot see a doctor without first seeing a nurse. Defendants
Nurses Scruggs, Savoie and Durko have been delaying his
scheduled appointments. Defendants Maurer, Libel and Wright
have denied Riddick an MRI to diagnose his neck, back, hip,
shoulder, arm, leg, and neurological or neuromuscular pain.
Defendants Libel, Wright, Scruggs, Savoie and Durko have
delayed neck, back, shoulder and hip x-rays for weeks and
months. They also have delayed Riddick's ability to have
x-rays taken of his spine. Defendants Maurer, Libel and
Wright have denied and delayed corrective eye surgery.
March 28, 2016, and May 23, 2016, defendants Maldonado and
Mulligan denied Riddick a proper mattress. Since his arrival
at Northern Correctional Institution, Riddick has had a worn,
thin and torn mattress. The mattress is so thin that Riddick
feels as if he is lying on the metal bed without any
mattress. Defendants Maldonado and Mulligan state that there
is no evidence that the mattress did not meet proper
standards when it was issued to Riddick. Although the
mattress exacerbated Riddick's neck, back, hip and
shoulder conditions and causes him to experience muscle
spasms and pinched nerves, defendants Wright, Scruggs, Savoie
and Durko tell Riddick that mattress issues are a custody
concern and that the medical unit does not provide medical
the defendants were provided Riddick's medical records
upon admission and, thus, were aware of his medical needs.
Defendants Maurer, Libel, Wright, Scruggs, Savoie and Durko
know that x-rays will not show neurological or neuromuscular
conditions, and that an MRI is required for proper diagnosis.
All defendants were aware that a flat mattress would
exacerbate Riddick's medical conditions. Defendants
Maurer, Libel and Wright know that Riddick's eyes will
continue to deteriorate unless he is provided surgery.
contends that the defendants have been deliberately
indifferent to his serious medical needs. In addition to
damages and permanent injunctive relief, Riddick has filed a
motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary
injunction seeking an x-ray, MRI, and a medical mattress or
adequate mattress. In his supporting memorandum, Riddick also
seeks eye surgery. Thus, he seeks all of the injunctive
relief requested in the complaint through this motion.
state a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious
medical need, Riddick must show both that his medical need
was serious and that the defendants acted with a sufficiently
culpable state of mind. See Smith v. Carpenter, 316
F.3d 178, 184 (2d Cir. 2003) (citing Estelle v.
Gamble, 492 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)). There are both
objective and subjective components to the deliberate
indifference standard. See Hathaway v. Coughlin, 37
F.3d 63, 66 (2d Cir. 1994). Objectively, the alleged
deprivation must be “sufficiently serious.”
Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991). The
condition must produce death, degeneration or extreme pain.
See Hathaway v. Coughlin, 99 F.3d 550, 553
(2d Cir. 1996). Subjectively, the defendants must have been
actually aware of a substantial risk that the inmate would
suffer serious harm as a result of his actions or inactions.
See Salahuddin v. Goord, 467 F.3d 262, 279-80 (2d
Cir. 2006). Negligence that would support a claim for medical
malpractice does not rise to the level of deliberate
indifference and is not cognizable under section 1983.
See Id. Nor does a difference of opinion regarding what
constitutes an appropriate response and treatment constitute
deliberate indifference. See Ventura v. Sinha, 379
F. App'x 1, 2-3 (2d Cir. 2010); Chance v.
Armstrong, 143 F.3d 698, 702 (2d Cir. 1998). Although a
disagreement over treatment is not cognizable under section
1983, the treatment actually given must be adequate. See
Chance, 143 F.3d at 703.
of severe back pain and degenerative vision can constitute
serious medical needs. See, e.g., Guarneri v.
Hazzard, 2008 WL 552872, at *6 (W.D.N.Y. Feb. 27, 2008)
(“[s]evere back pain, especially if lasting an extended
period of time, can amount to a serious medical need under
the Eighth Amendment”); Faraday v, Lantz, 2005
WL 3465846, at *5 (D. Conn. Dec. 12, 2005) (lower back pain
caused by herniated discs and sciatica constitute a serious
medical need); Davidson v. Scully, 155 F.Supp.2d 77,
87 (S.D.N.Y. 2001) (noting that where vision will degenerate
in the absence of corrective glasses, need for vision
correction can be a serious medical need). Thus, Riddick has
alleged facts to support the objective component of the
deliberate indifference test at this stage of litigation.
alleges that the defendants have denied him appropriate
treatment for his various medical conditions. Riddick fails
to allege what treatment is being provided for his various
conditions. Riddick has attached to his complaint a November
23, 2016 letter and a November inmate request stating that
following examination in September 2016, an optometrist
determined that Riddick's vision was correctable to 20/70
with conventional eyeglasses and that no corrective surgery
was required. ECF No. 1-1 at 24, 25. There is no reference to
Riddick's allegations of severe pain while wearing
glasses. Riddick also has provided copies of inmate requests
showing that he has been ...