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Harris v. Dougherty

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 9, 2017




         Phillip Harris is incarcerated at the Cheshire Correctional Institution. He has filed a Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Drs. Johnny Wu, Wright, Ruiz and John Does I and II, Nurses Nancy Hill and Jane Does I and II and Health Services Administrator Sharone Brown. For the reasons set forth below, the Complaint is dismissed in part.

         Under 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. Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         Although detailed allegations are not required, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A complaint that includes only “‘labels and conclusions, ' ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action' or ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement, ' ” does not meet the facial plausibility standard. Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557 (2007)). Although courts have an obligation to “construe a pro se complaint liberally, ” the complaint must still include sufficient factual allegations to meet the standard of facial plausibility. Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).

         Mr. Harris was incarcerated at Northern Correctional Institution in February 2014. On February 9, 2014, he was unable to urinate. He alleges that he attempted to seek medical assistance, but officers ignored his requests to be seen in the medical department. Later that day, a lieutenant escorted him to the medical department. Nurse Nancy Hill allegedly examined Mr. Harris and accused him of deliberately causing his symptoms. She allegedly believed that the cause of his inability to urinate was the insertion of something into his penis. Mr. Hill alleges that he repeatedly informed Nurse Hill that he had not inserted anything into his penis.

         Mr. Harris further alleges that Nurse Hill and Nurse Jane Doe I attempted to insert a catheter into his penis to enable him to urinate, but they were unsuccessful. Mr. Harris experienced severe pain and humiliation during the attempts to insert the catheter. A decision was made to transport Mr. Harris to University of Connecticut Health Center (“UCONN”) for treatment. Mr. Harris alleges that the transport van had not been cleaned and contained residue from a prior use of mace. This residue caused Mr. Harris to cough and burned his eyes and throat.

         At UCONN, an urologist allegedly inserted a catheter into Mr. Harris's penis and prescribed pain medication. Mr. Harris alleges that he asked the officers who had transported him to UCONN for a change of clothes because his clothes had been soiled by urine. The officers informed Mr. Harris that the hospital had no clothes to provide to him.

         On February 10, 2014, the urologist released Mr. Harris to be returned to Northern. Officers placed Mr. Harris in the in-patient medical unit at Northern upon his return from UCONN.

         Mr. Harris alleges that he quickly developed an infection in his bladder and urethra. On February 11, 2014, medical personnel at Northern transferred Mr. Harris to UCONN for treatment of the infection. A medical staff member at UCONN allegedly prescribed an antibiotic to treat the infection and released Mr. Harris back to Northern. Upon his return to Northern, officers placed Mr. Harris in the in-patient medical unit. Some days later, when Mr. Harris was still using the catheter, medical personnel released Mr. Harris to general population. Mr. Harris claims that the conditions in general population were unsanitary, which could have caused further infections to his urethra or bladder.

         At some point, Mr. Harris alleges, a medical staff member removed his catheter. Because Mr. Harris had not regained normal function of his urethra, a medical staff member informed him that an urologist would examine and treat him. Prison officers subsequently transported Mr. Harris to Yale-New Haven Hospital to see Urologist Toby Chai. Dr. Chai informed Mr. Harris that there was a blockage in his urethra. Dr. Chai stated that there were several ways to reduce the blockage, but that he recommended complete removal due to Mr. Harris's age.

         Mr. Harris claims that Defendants would not schedule the surgery until he had been sentenced. On February 7, 2014, Mr. Harris pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree. On May 28, 2014, in the Connecticut Superior Court for the Judicial District of Milford, a judge sentenced Mr. Harris to eighteen years of imprisonment, execution suspended after eighteen months and followed by five years of probation.[1]

         On May 30, 2014, Dr. Chai performed a surgery to remove the blockage in Mr. Harris's urethra. Mr. Harris claims that immediately after the surgery he noticed that his penis looked like it had been reduced in size. In addition, he experienced other complications including “leakage, burning during urination, ” and lack of “good urine flow.” Compl., ECF No. 1 at 10, ¶¶ 44-45. Dr. Chai informed Mr. Harris that these complications would resolve in time.

         Mr. Harris states that, at some point, prison officials transferred him from MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution (“MacDougall-Walker”) to Garner Correctional Institution (“Garner”). At Garner, Mr. Harris allegesthat Drs. John Doe I and John Doe II failed to thoroughly examine or treat him for infections and urination issues. Neither doctor referred Mr. Harris to a specialist, he alleges, even though his medical issues were beyond their area of expertise. In 2015, Drs. John Doe I and John Doe II arranged to have Mr. Harris transferred to Cheshire Correctional Institution in retaliation for his filing of grievances against them.

         During his confinement at Cheshire, Mr. Harris alleges, Dr. Ruiz and Health Administrator Brown denied his requests for medical treatment despite his complaints of lack of urine flow, a burning sensation when urinating, and urine leakage. The Utilization Review Committee allegedly denied Mr. Harris's request for a consultation with an urologist. Dr. Ruiz and Health Administrator Brown allegedly failed to make further efforts to obtain the necessary approval for Mr. Harris to be examined by an urologist. Mr. Harris alleges that his injuries have “effected [his] ... mental state, ...

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