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Dorlette v. Wu

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 12, 2017

DR. JOHNNY WU et al., Defendants.



         On February 25, 2016, Faroulh Dorlette (“Plaintiff”), an inmate currently incarcerated at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Uncasville, Connecticut, filed a Complaint pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Dr. Johnny Wu, the Director of Medical Services for the Connecticut Department of Correction, and Dr. J. Smith, an optometrist at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut (together “Defendants”), in their individual and official capacities for monetary, declaratory, and injunctive relief. Mr. Dorlette claimed that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment and his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment due process and equal protection clauses by denying him adequate eye care and corrective eyeglasses.

         Defendants have moved to dismiss all of Mr. Dorlette's claims against them. Defs. Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 22. Mr. Dorlette subsequently filed an Amended Complaint addressing some of the concerns raised in Defendants' motion to dismiss. Am. Compl., ECF No. 26. For the reasons set forth below, the Court accepts Mr. Dorlette's Amended Complaint as the operative complaint in this matter, and Defendants' [22] Motion to Dismiss is DENIED without prejudice.


         Mr. Dorlette claims that Defendants refused to provide him with corrective eyeglasses that had been prescribed to him, violating his Fourteenth and Eighth Amendment rights. On October 19, 2016, this Court issued its Initial Review Order, ECF No. 9, dismissing Mr. Dorlette's Fourteenth Amendment claims and his claims for monetary damages against Defendants in their official capacities under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) and (2). The Court permitted his Eighth Amendment claim to proceed against Defendants after concluding that Mr. Dorlette had “stated a plausible claim of deliberate indifference to medical needs against [them].” Initial Review Order at 4, ECF No. 9.

         On March 27, 2017, Defendants moved to dismiss Mr. Dorlette's remaining Eighth Amendment claim against them. Defs. Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 22. Defendants assert that (1) the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this claim, (2) Mr. Dorlette failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted; and (3) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. Id. At the time of Defendants' motion, Mr. Dorlette was confined at Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport, Vermont. On May 12, 2017, however, Mr. Dorlette filed a notice with the Court indicating that he had since been transferred to Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution in Uncasville, Connecticut. See Not. of Change of Address, ECF No. 23. Accordingly, the Court mailed a copy of Defendants' motion to Mr. Dorlette at his new address and granted him until August 18, 2017 to file a response to the motion. See Order, ECF No. 25. To date, Mr. Dorlette has not responded to the motion.

         On August 21, 2017, 144 days after Defendants filed their motion to dismiss and 37 days after a copy of the motion was mailed to Mr. Dorlette at his new address, Mr. Dorlette filed an Amended Complaint. Am. Compl., ECF No. 26. His Amended Complaint only includes allegations supporting his Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Dr. Smith and Dr. Wu. Id. Mr. Dorlette did not seek leave of the Court before filing this Amended Complaint, and a review of his allegations suggests that Mr. Dorlette filed the Amended Complaint in order to address the claims raised in Defendants' motion to dismiss.


         Under Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff must seek leave of the court in order to amend a complaint more than 21 days after the filing of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b). Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(B), 15(a)(2). “In the absence of any apparent or declared reason - such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of the allowance of the amendment, futility of the amendment, etc. - the leave should, as the rules require, be ‘freely given.'” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). “This relaxed standard applies with particular force to pro se litigants. A pro se complaint is to be read liberally, and should not be dismissed without granting leave to amend at least once when such a reading gives any indication that a valid claim might be stated.” Pangburn v. Culbertson, 200 F.3d 65, 70 (2d Cir. 1999) (emphasis in original; internal quotations omitted).

         “The rule in the Second Circuit has been to allow a party to amend its pleadings in the absence of prejudice or bad faith.” Independence Ins. Serv. Corp. v. Hartford Fin. Services Grp, Inc., 04 Civ. 1512 (JCH), 2005 WL 1038991, *4 (D. Conn. May 3, 2005) (citing State Teachers Retirement Bd. v. Fluor Corp., 654 F.2d 843, 856 (2d Cir. 1981)). In determining what constitutes prejudice, the Court considers whether the amendment would (1) require the defendant to expend significant additional resources to conduct discovery and prepare for trial, (2) significantly delay the resolution of the dispute, or (3) prevent the plaintiff from bringing a timely action in another jurisdiction. Id. at *5 (citing Block v. First Blood Associates, 988 F.2d 344, 350 (2d Cir. 1993)).


         Although Mr. Dorlette did not respond directly to the motion to dismiss as instructed or seek permission from the Court to file the Amended Complaint, the allegations set forth in the Amended Complaint seem to address the concerns raised by Defendants in their motion to dismiss. Therefore, the Court grants leave to amend, denies without prejudice Defendants' motion to dismiss, and reviews Mr. Dorlette's Amended Complaint as the operative complaint in this matter.

         This 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. 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 “[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).

         A. Factual Allegations ...

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