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McAfee v. Naqvi

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 26, 2017

GERARD MCAFEE, Plaintiff,
v.
SYED J. NAQVI, M.D., individually, OMPRAKASH PILLAI, M.D., individually, and ROBERT BONNETTI, individually, Defendants.

          RULING ON MOTION IN LIMINE

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Gerard McAfee (“Plaintiff”) brings this case against Syed J. Naqvi, M.D., Omprakash Pillai, M.D., and Robert Bonnetti (collectively, “Defendants”), all employees of the Connecticut Department of Correction, in connection with medical treatment he received while incarcerated at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Sheffield, Connecticut. He alleges that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, by impeding his access to a surgical consultation and other follow up treatment for his infected gallbladder. See First. Am. Compl., ECF No. 27 (“Compl.”).

         Defendants seek to prohibit any evidence concerning “(1) whether the alleged delay in taking the plaintiff to the surgical consultation resulted in injury to the plaintiff other than pain and suffering until the time of the surgery; and (2) whether the alleged delay in taking the plaintiff to see the surgical clinic caused subsequent or permanent injuries.” See Motion, ECF No. 56. For the reasons that follow, the motion in limine is GRANTED to the extent that any treating physician of Mr. McAfee seeks to testify about any matters beyond the scope of their treatment of him.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         On October 21, 2011, a Connecticut court sentenced Mr. McAfee to five years' imprisonment, execution suspended after two years, for carrying a pistol without a permit in violation of Connecticut's General Statutes. On March 19, 2012, while he was serving this sentence, Mr. McAfee allegedly became seriously ill. After “vomiting … large amounts of liquid” and experiencing “excruciating upper abdominal pain, ” Mr. McAfee notified the correctional officers on duty. Compl. at ¶ 14. Eventually, the officers brought Mr. McAfee to the prison medical unit. Id. at ¶ 15. The next morning, medical personnel at the prison medical unit evaluated Mr. McAfee and conducted several medical tests and x-rays. Id. at ¶ 16. Later that morning, Dr. Pillai evaluated Mr. McAfee. Id. at ¶ 17. While lab results were pending, Dr. Pillai reviewed the x-rays and ordered a follow-up. Id.

         For the next week, Mr. McAfee alleges that he suffered severe pain and “could not eat without vomiting.” Id. at ¶ 19. He “made several written requests to corrections officers for further medical attention and treatment.” Id. at ¶ 20. On April 6, a nurse at the medical unit evaluated Mr. McAfee, took new blood samples, and gave Mr. McAfee a prescription for Zantac. Id. at ¶ 21. The next day, Mr. McAfee made another written request to correctional officers for “immediate medical attention, ” referencing the same acute abdominal pain and vomiting that he had described in his previous requests. Id. at ¶ 22.

         Dr. Naqvi evaluated Mr. McAfee the next day. Compl. at ¶ 22. He concluded that Mr. McAfee's gall bladder was inflamed, prescribed a bacterial antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medication, and submitted a document to the Utilization Review Committee recommending that Mr. McAfee receive an ultrasound and general surgery consult. Id. at ¶ 25. The Utilization Review Committee approved the request on April 10. Id. at ¶ 31. On April 12, prison officials called Mr. McAfee to the medical unit. Id. at ¶ 33. McAfee alleges that Mr. Bonnetti (“Nurse Rob”) was on duty at the time. When Mr. McAfee entered the unit, Mr. Bonnetti allegedly responded in a hostile manner. Specifically, Mr. Bonnetti

approached him and asked, “Who is the emergency?” McAfee responded, “It's me.” McAfee then followed Nurse Rob it the exam room. After McAfee explained that he was not in pain at that very moment, Nurse Rob responded, “Then you're not a f-king emergency.” Stunned at Nurse Rob's inappropriate outburst, McAfee asked, “Why are you being such a cocky assh-le to me?” Nurse Rob then told McAfee to get out of the exam room and that he would be put in segregation instead of his cell. McAfee then went back into the waiting room and sat down.

Id. at ¶ 34.

         Mr. McAfee alleges that he continued to experience severe pain and vomiting after his interaction with Mr. Bonnetti, but “did not request medical treatment …out of fear that he would be placed in segregation as threatened by Nurse Rob if he made such requests.” Id. at ¶ 38. On April 28 and 30, he made written requests for medical care once again. Id. at ¶ 39. On May 1, prison officials took him to UCONN Health Center (“UCHC”) in Farmington, Connecticut for his ultrasound and consultation. Id. at ¶ 40.

         At the Health Center, a doctor evaluated Mr. McAfee, concluded that he had “acute cholecystitis” and scheduled gall bladder surgery the next day. Compl. at ¶ 44. The next day, Dr. David W. McFadden performed the surgery, allegedly finding that Mr. McAfee's gall bladder was “thickened, inflamed, and gangrenous.” Id. at ¶ 45.

         After the surgery, officials discharged Mr. McAfee to the general population at MacDougall-Walker. Id. at ¶ 47. Mr. McAfee alleges that when he was there, Dr. Pillai “allowed the staples placed in McAfee during the surgery on May 1 to become embedded and infected before removing them.” Id. at ¶ 48. He alleges that he suffered from additional medical complications after the surgery and had to receive an additional surgery to remove a hernia near the site of his original surgery. Id. at ¶ 52.

         Mr. McAfee alleges that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. Dr. Naqvi, he alleges, diagnosed McAfee as suffering from acute cholecystitis on April 8, 2012 and, at that time, knew that McAfee had a serious medical need. Compl. at ¶ 55. Mr. McAfee also alleges that Dr. Pillai was aware of the acute harm on the same day. Id. at ¶ 57.

         Mr. McAfee therefore seeks to hold Drs. Naqvi and Pillai responsible for the twenty-one day delay between Utilization Review Committee's approval of the ultrasound and general surgery consult and Mr. McAfee's actual ultrasound and surgery. He argues that this delay caused damages including physical pain, emotional distress, and “severe discomfort.” Id. at ¶ 64. He seeks to hold Mr. Bonnetti responsible for the delay as well, because Mr. Bonnetti's taunting deterred him from seeking medical care.

         In his pre-trial memorandum, Mr. McAfee listed several doctors as witnesses. The first, Dr. James Passarelli, would testify “as to the treatment that he had to provide to [Mr. McAfee] after he was released from incarceration … in order to attempt to correct the problems that he had that were caused by the deprivation of medical attention by the defendants.” Joint Trial Mem., ECF No. 48, 16. The second, Dr. Michael Wong, would testify about the same thing. Id. (adding that Dr. Wong would testify about “problems that were caused by the deprivation of medical attention by the defendants, including but not limited to internal bleeding.”). Two additional physician witnesses, Dr. McFadden and his assistant, Dr. Jessica Lee, would testify about Mr. McAfee's May 2012 surgery. Id. Finally, Dr. Geoffrey Nadzam will “testify as to his treatment of Gerard McAfee for injuries that were caused by the deprivation of medical attention by the defendants including performing two surgeries after Gerard McAfee was released from the department of corrections.” Id. at 18.

         Defendants move in limine for an Order that “no evidence be presented concerning: (1) whether the alleged delay in taking the plaintiff to the surgical consultation resulted in injury to [Mr. McAfee] other than pain and suffering until the time of the surgery; and (2) whether the alleged delay in taking [Mr. McAfee] to see the surgical clinic caused subsequent or permanent injuries.” See Motion, 2. Defendants also argue that Mr. McAfee's proposed witnesses cannot testify as experts about the medical effect of the alleged delay in his treatment. Mr. McAfee responds that he disclosed the Doctors as experts by listing them in his May 5, 2015 response to interrogatories. Id. at 2; see also Response to Interrog., Ex. A, ECF No. 62-1 (“Response”).

         Mr. McAfee listed Dr. McFadden, Dr. Geoffery Nadzam, and Dr. Passarelli under response to Interrogatory 33, which asks for “all experts whom you intend to call as an expert witness at trial.” ...


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