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Harnage v. Caldonero

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 17, 2017

JAMES HARNAGE, Plaintiff,
v.
LISA CALDONERO, et al., Defendants.

          RULING AND ORDER

          Alvin W. Thompson United States District Judge

         The plaintiff, James Harnage, is currently incarcerated at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution in Uncasville, Connecticut. He has filed a complaint pursuant 42 U.S.C. § 1983 naming Medical Staff Member Lisa Caldonero, Jane Does 1-3 and John Does 1-3, Nurses Francis, Caroline, Nikki, Greene, Marissa and James, Physician Assistant Rob and Drs. Naqvi and Pillai as defendants. For the reasons set forth below, the complaint is being dismissed.

         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. 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 still have an obligation to interpret “a pro se complaint liberally, ” the complaint must include sufficient factual allegations to meet the standard of facial plausibility. See Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).

         The plaintiff asserts that he was confined at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution (“MacDougall-Walker”) between August 2012 and July 2016. He generally contends that he challenged “deficiencies in his medical care” during this period by filing grievances and legal actions. Compl., ECF No. 1 at 4, ¶ 16.

         On May 27, 2013, the plaintiff observed a medical staff member at MacDougall-Walker inject an inmate with a dose of insulin and then use the same needle to withdraw another dose of insulin from the same bottle and inject it into a second inmate. The plaintiff immediately reported to prison officials at MacDougall-Walker that the medical staff member had contaminated the bottle of insulin using this method. This incident of insulin contamination allegedly required medical officials at MacDougall-Walker to review and revise policies and implement more stringent guidelines regarding the treatment of diabetic inmates. The plaintiff claims that some medical staff at MacDougall-Walker were angry because they believed that the extent of the response to the incident was excessive and the new guidelines governing treatment of diabetic inmates who required insulin were unnecessary.

         The plaintiff contends that immediately after he reported the incident of insulin contamination, Medical Staff Members Caldonero, Jane Does 1-3 and John Does 1-3, Nurses Francis, Caroline, Nikki, Greene, Marissa and James and Physician Assistant Rob began to give him a hard time with regard to his requests for refills and renewals of his various prescriptions. These defendants would either deny or unreasonably delay the renewals or refills of all of his prescriptions, but in particular his prescription for Ibuprofen. The plaintiff states that he had been prescribed Ibuprofen to treat pain in his back, hip and wrist.

         On several occasions, Dr. Naqvi or Dr. Pillai examined the plaintiff and renewed several of his prescriptions, including his prescription for Ibuprofen. The plaintiff claims that, on these occasions, medical staff never dispensed Ibuprofen to him and failed to dispense the other prescribed medications in a timely manner.

         The delays in refilling, renewing or dispensing the medications sometimes lasted for five to six weeks. The plaintiff claims that when he was unable to take Ibuprofen, he experienced severe pain and his dominant hand became swollen and difficult to move.

         The plaintiff contends that defendants failed to refill or renew his medication prescriptions and dispense the medications in a timely manner in retaliation for his bringing the insulin contamination incident to the attention of prison/medical officials. The plaintiff also believes that the defendants intentionally delayed refilling or renewing his prescriptions in response to a mandate, initiated by Dr. Wu, directing medical staff at all prison facilities to “take drastic measures to reduce costs.” Compl., ECF No. 1 at 5, ¶ 22.

         The plaintiff claims that he is indigent and cannot buy Ibuprofen from the commissary. He states that he was successful in exhausting his administrative remedies regarding his claim of untimely refills and renewals of his prescription for Ibuprofen and other medications.

         The plaintiff contends that the defendants conspired to deny him medical treatment in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights, retaliated against him in violation of his First and Seventh Amendment rights and failed to provide him with the same treatment provided to other inmates who were similarly situated in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment rights. He also claims that the defendants violated Article 1, §§ 1, 4, 5, 10, 14, 20 of the Connecticut Constitution. He sues the defendants in their individual capacities only.

         I. Seventh Amendment Claim

         The plaintiff alleges that the defendants violated his rights under the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution. The Seventh Amendment provides: “In Suits at common law . . . the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.” The ...


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