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Siminausky v. Sean

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 25, 2017

SEAN, et al., Defendants.


          Vanessa L. Bryant United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, Andrew Siminausky, currently incarcerated at the Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown, Connecticut, has filed this action pro se. The named Defendants in the amended complaint are Connecticut Managed Health Care Providers (“CMHC”) Supervisor Sean, Dr. Cary R. Freston, Dr. Sayeed Naqvi, Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) Coordinator Captain McCormick, Deputy Warden Gary Wright, Property Officer Melendez, CMHC, the Department of Correction (“DOC”) and Correctional Officer Alxander. Plaintiff initially characterized his amended complaint as asserting Eighth Amendment and Due Process claims based on his transfer from a level 3 facility to a level 4 facility solely because of his disability. In the section of the amended complaint listing claims for relief, Plaintiff lists three claims: (1) Defendants Naqvi, Freston and McCormick denied Plaintiff his due process right to refuse medical care; (2) Defendant Melendez denied Plaintiff medically-approved items; and (3) Defendant Alxander used excessive force against him. Defendants move for summary judgment and Plaintiff has filed a memorandum in opposition. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is granted.

         Standard of Review

         A motion for summary judgment may be granted only where there are no issues of material fact in dispute and the moving party is therefore entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 56(a); In re Dana Corp., 574 F.3d 129, 151 (2d Cir. 2009). The moving party may satisfy his burden “by showing- that is pointing out to the district court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” PepsiCo, Inc. v. Coca-Cola Co., 315 F.3d 101, 105 (2d Cir. 2002) (per curiam) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Once the moving party meets this burden, the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Wright v. Goord, 554 F.3d 255, 266 (2d Cir. 2009). He must present such evidence as would allow a rational jury to find in his favor in order to defeat the motion for summary judgment. Graham v. Long Island R.R., 230 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 2000). The nonmoving party “must offer some hard evidence showing that its version is not wholly fanciful.” D'Amico v. City of New York, 132 F.3d 145, 149 (2d Cir. 1998).


         Plaintiff suffers from Raynaud's Disease. Dr. Freston evaluated Plaintiff on August 16, 2013, and discussed the management and treatment of his condition. During that visit, Plaintiff told Dr. Freston that his insulated socks had been stolen, he had been prescribed special cotton gloves, and he was taking Nifedipine which was helping his condition. Dr. Freston noted no skin disruptions caused by Raynaud's Disease. There was scant swelling and no signs of other diseases. Dr. Freston noted that Plaintiff was not wearing his prescribed gloves on the day of the exam. Plaintiff counters that it was a warm day in August. Dr. Freston also indicated that Plaintiff was intermittently noncompliant with his medication.

         Dr. Freston recommended that Plaintiff be housed in a climate-controlled facility because temperature fluctuation is a trigger for Raynaud's disease. Dr. Freston examined Plaintiff's gloves and concluded that the gloves could be used as needed to keep Plaintiff's hands warm. Dr. Freston opined that insulated socks would help. Although Plaintiff previously had been approved for soft restraints, Dr. Freston noted no need for special restraints or special transportation. These opinions, intended to help Plaintiff manage his Raynaud's Disease, were based upon Dr. Freston's professional medical judgment.

         Although Dr. Freston recommended that the Plaintiff be transferred to a climate-controlled facility, he was powerless to transfer the Plaintiff because inmate transfer decisions are not made by doctors. To obtain an award of damages, the plaintiff must demonstrate that each Defendant was personally involved in the alleged constitutional deprivation. Farid v. Ellen, 593 F.3d 233, 249 (2d Cir. 2010). Inmate transfer decisions are made exclusively by the Offender Classification and Population Management unit.

         Plaintiff alleges that he submitted requests to Supervisor Sean, ADA Coordinator McCormick, and Deputy Warden Wright to prevent his transfer to a climate-controlled facility. Defendant Sean stated that he would have deferred to Dr. Freston's judgment in making any recommendation for transfer.


         The Defendants move for summary judgment on four grounds. First they argue that Plaintiff has not shown that Defendants Freston, Sean, McCormack and Wright were deliberately indifferent to a serious medical need in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Second, Plaintiff has not established the personal involvement of Defendants Sean, McCormack and Wright in any alleged deprivation. Third, all Defendants are protected by qualified immunity. Fourth, all claims against the Defendants in official capacity and any claims against DOC and CMHC are barred by the Eleventh Amendment.

          I. Deliberate Indifference to a Serious Medical Need

         Defendants first argue that Plaintiff fails to allege facts to support a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need because Raynaud's Disease is not a serious medical need and, even if it were, the Defendants were not deliberately indifferent to that need.

         To state a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, Plaintiff must show both that his medical need was serious and that Defendant acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind. See Smith v. Carpenter, 316 F.3d 178, 183-84 (2d Cir. 2003) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)). There are both objective and subjective components to the deliberate indifference standard. See Id. Objectively, the alleged deprivation must be “sufficiently serious.” Chance v. Armstrong, 143 F.3d 698, 702 (1998); see Hathaway v. Coughlin, 99 F.3d 550, 553 (2d Cir. 1996) (citing with approval dissent from Nance v. Kelly, 912 F.2d 605, 607 (2d Cir. 1990), which states a “serious medical need” is “one that may produce death, degeneration, or extreme pain”)). Subjectively, the defendant 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 263, 281 (2d Cir. 2006). Negligence that would support a claim for medical malpractice does not rise to the level of deliberate ...

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