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Christofakis v. Semple

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 7, 2017

GREGORY CHIRSTOFAKIS, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT SEMPLE, et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Gregory Christofakis, currently incarcerated at the Osborn Correctional Institution, filed this Complaint pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, on June 27, 2016. Mr. Christofakis tendered the filing fee to commence this action on September 20, 2016. The Defendants are Commissioner Scott Semple, Warden Anne Cornouyer, Deputy Warden Mulligan, Captain Tuttle, Counselor Christina Schaeffer, Correctional Officer Weimel, Correctional Officer Borcier, Johnny Wu, Richard Furey, Nurse Paul Wilber, Nurse Nancy Hill, Dr. Carson Wright and Dr. Joseph Breton. Mr. Christofakis challenges his placement at Northern Correctional Institution as a pretrial detainee, the disregard for his medical conditions and his medical care. Mr. Christofakis seeks damages from Defendants.

         I. Standard of Review

          Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) of the United States Code, the Court 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. Id. In reviewing a pro se complaint, the Court must assume the truth of the allegations, and interpret them liberally to “raise the strongest arguments [they] suggest[].” Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007). 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 right 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 “pro 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 se litigants).

         II. Allegations

         Mr. Christofakis was a pretrial detainee until he was sentenced on November 16, 2015. As a result of prison overcrowding and his bail being set at $1, 000, 000, Mr. Christofakis was sent to Northern Correctional Institution (“Northern”).

         Upon his arrival at Northern, Mr. Christofakis allegedly provided copies of medical records documenting a spinal injury. He claims that these documents were placed in his medical file. Mr. Christofakis states that, when he was admitted to Northern, he weighed 330 lbs, was morbidly obese, and suffered from cardiac and other medical issues.

         On October 7, 2014, Mr. Christofakis claims that he was assigned a cellmate who was 65 years old. Correctional staff allegedly told them to work out the bunk assignments. According to Mr. Christofakis, his cellmate did not mind the top bunk, and Mr. Christofakis retained the bottom bunk. On October 9, 2014, Mr. Christofakis was allegedly sent to behavior observation for twenty-four hours. Upon his return to his cell, Captain Tuttle allegedly told Mr. Christofakis he would have to use the top bunk because of his cellmate's age. Mr. Christofakis alleges that Captain Tuttle refused to listen when Mr. Christofakis explained that he required the bottom bunk because of his spinal injury. Mr. Christofakis claims that he feared that he would be sent to segregation and accepted the top bunk. Captain Tuttle allegedly refused to check Mr. Christofakis' medical file. Captain Tuttle allegedly stated to Mr. Christofakis that there was no record of a bottom bunk pass and noted that Northern does not issue bottom bunk passes. Nurses Hill and Wilber allegedly brought Mr. Christofakis his daily medications. According to Mr. Christofakis, they were aware of both his medical history and a bottom bunk pass but did nothing to correct the situation. The nurses allegedly observed the difficulty experienced by Mr. Christofakis in getting down from the top bunk but said nothing. Mr. Christofakis claims that he explained to Counselor Schaeffer that his cellmate was willing to switch bunks, but his request for the switch was allegedly denied. Other requests submitted by Mr. Christofakis on this issue also were allegedly denied.

         Mr. Christofakis claims that, on October 7, 2014, he fell while trying to get down from the top bunk. He allegedly hit his buttocks, hip, head, neck and shoulder on the floor, causing a disc compression. When Mr. Christofakis reported the fall to Correctional Officers Weimel and Borcier, they allegedly noted it in the log book but did not call for any medical care. Days after the incident, Mr. Christofakis allegedly complained to nurses and other Defendants about the fall and the requirement that he be on the top bunk. He was allegedly told that his assignment was by order of the captain.

         Mr. Christofakis alleges that Captain Tuttle and Deputy Warden Mulligan told Mr. Christofakis he should be careful because he could be moved to another cell and again required to use the top bunk. Mr. Christofakis also alleges that, when Nurse Vicki returned from vacation, she arranged for Mr. Christofakis' cellmate to be moved, thereby allowing Mr. Christofakis to use the bottom bunk. On November 12, 2014, Mr. Christofakis was allegedly seen by the medical unit in response to his complaints from the fall, and Dr. Wright allegedly ordered x-rays.

         On February 19, 2015 and June 23, 2015, Mr. Christofakis claims that he received lumbar epidural steroid injections to address his complaints of pain. The injections allegedly had no effect on Mr. Christofakis' injuries. A January 5, 2016 MRI allegedly showed numerous diffuse disc bulges and compression on the existing nerve root of two discs. Mr. Christofakis attributes these injuries to his fall.

         Several times, Mr. Christofakis allegedly asked Defendant Furey for a new mattress to address his back pain. Defendants Furey and Wu allegedly denied these requests, stating that Mr. Christofakis could get a new mattress only if he had a skin breakdown.

         Dr. Breton allegedly saw Mr. Christofakis on January 26, 2016. Dr. Breton allegedly reviewed Mr. Christofakis' MRI report and told Mr. Christofakis he would call him to the medical unit for further discussion and treatment. Mr. Christofakis claims that he has received no treatment from that date until he filed this Complaint.

         Mr. Christofakis alleges that his wife began calling Defendant Furey asking about her husband's medical condition and seeking information regarding treatment. Defendant Furey allegedly provided no information. He allegedly found a terminated protective order in Mr. Christofakis' file and used it on April 7, 2016, to prevent Mr. Christofakis from communicating with his wife. Mr. Christofakis claims that ...


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