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Sotomayor v. Ricardo

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 20, 2017

RUIZ RICARDO, ET AL., Defendants.


          Stefan R. Underhill United States District Judge

         In his pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiff Herminio Sotomayor-currently confined at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Uncasville, Connecticut-alleges deliberate indifference to his medical needs and failure to accommodate his disability. Sotomayor names as defendants Dr. Ricardo Ruiz, Dr. Kathleen Mourer, ADA Coordinator Garcia, and Colleen Gallagher. Sotomayor's complaint was received on May 22, 2017, and his motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on June 1, 2017.

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, 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. 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 right to relief. Bell Atl. Corp. 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, “[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 se litigants).

         I. Allegations

         A. Dr. Ruiz

         In May 2015, Sotomayor was confined at the Cheshire Correctional Institution. He submitted a sick call request, claiming that he experienced pain in his ears when the cell door was slammed, when his cellmate spoke loudly, and when the television was played loudly. Dr. Ruiz examined Sotomayor and sent him to an audiologist at the University of Connecticut Health Center for tests. The audiologist diagnosed tinnitus in both ears and an injury in the right ear. She also diagnosed hearing loss of 50 percent in the right ear and of 55 percent in the left.

         Upon Sotomayor's return, Dr. Ruiz refused to treat him for tinnitus and declined to refer him to the University of Connecticut Health Center to address the right ear injury. Sotomayor received one hearing aid at the University of Connecticut Health Center, but it was defective.

         Sotomayor informed Dr. Ruiz that he had been slapped on the right ear during an altercation. He also stated that he had fallen in the shower and hit the back of his head. Sotomayor lost some hearing as a result of the fall. In preparing a request for treatment for the Utilization Review Committee, Dr. Ruiz only described the slap on Sotomayor's right ear.

         On July 29, 2016, Sotomayor submitted a grievance because Dr. Ruiz did not treat his right knee. Subsequently, an X-ray showed arthritis or a slightly ripped ligament. Despite these results, Dr. Ruiz expected Sotomayor to walk upstairs and get into a top bunk. In an August 2016 Inmate Request Form, however, Sotomayor stated that he had a bottom bunk pass and was confined on the bottom tier. Doc. No. 1-1, at 24.

         On an unspecified date, Sotomayor was sprayed with a chemical agent. The “pepper spray” split his middle bottom teeth and scarred his right cornea. The eye damage caused Sotomayor to be prescribed additional lenses. Dr. Ruiz refused to treat him for several months. Sotomayor alleges that he has problems keeping his eyes open and has been attacked by other inmates because they have noticed that he cannot see.

         B. Dr. Mourer

         Dr. Mourer signed a Utilization Review Committee appeal on March 21, 2016 denying Sotomayor a left hearing aid. Dr. Mourer noted that the level of noise in a correctional facility is not a medical issue. Sotomayor states that Dr. Mourer discriminated against him, because the doctor should know that hearing aids act as earplugs to reduce background noise.

         C. ADA Coordinator Garcia

         On June 16, 2016, Sotomayor wrote to defendant Garcia seeking single cell status. He stated that inmates were abusing him with loud noises and would sneak up on him to test his hearing. Defendant Garcia denied the request. Sotomayor also submitted a request for transfer ...

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