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Garcia v. Doe

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 3, 2018

RAMON A. GARCIA Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN DOE, et al. Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          Janet C. Hall United States District Judge

         On November 27, 2017, the plaintiff, Ramon A. Garcia (“Garcia”), an inmate currently housed at Cheshire Correctional Institution in Cheshire, Connecticut, filed his Complaint pro se pursuant to title 42, section 1983 of the United States Code against (1) Dr. John Doe, an orthodontist with Correctional Managed Health Care, (2) Dr. Cuevas, a dentist at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution (“MWCI”), (3) “Nurse Joy, ” a registered nurse at MWCI, (4) “Nurse Holly, ” a registered nurse at MWCI, (5) Counselor Supervisor Blanchard, the unit manager at MWCI, and (6) Health Administrator Lightner at MWCI. Garcia is suing Doe in his individual and official capacities and all other defendants in their individual capacities for deliberate indifference to his serious dental needs. He seeks monetary damages. On December 19, 2017, this court granted Garcia's motion to proceed in forma pauperis. See Order (Doc. No. 6). For the following reasons, Garcia's Complaint is dismissed in part.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant to title 28, section 1915A of the United States Code, 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. Although detailed allegations are not required, a complaint must include sufficient facts to afford the defendant 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.” Bell Atlantic, 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)).

         II. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

         On December 21, 2015, correctional staff transported Garcia from MWCI to the UConn Medical Center for oral surgery. Compl. ¶ 1. Garcia had been suffering from an ongoing dental problem for months. Id. During the surgery, Dr. John Doe continuously injected Garcia with anesthetics and violently “yanked” on his teeth. Id. at ¶ 2. Afterward, Doe told him that Dr. Cuevas, who had previously performed dental work on Garcia, had incorrectly placed a filling on his adjoining tooth and that it had fallen off during the surgery. Id. at ¶ 3. Doe instructed Garcia to tell Cuevas to replace the filling. Id. He then prescribed Garcia 5 mg of Percocet to take every six hours for two days and Paradox, a special mouthwash to use to prevent infection. Id. at ¶ 4.

         Sometime after the surgery, the anesthetics that Doe had applied began to wear off and Garcia felt excruciating pain in his mouth, head, and face. Compl. ¶ 5. A nurse gave him some pain medication, but it did not help much with the pain. Id. At approximately 6:00 p.m., Garcia was transported back to MWCI. Id. at ¶ 6.

         A few hours later, Garcia complained to correctional staff of pain and excessive swelling, and an officer sent him to the medical unit at MWCI. Compl. ¶ 7. There, Garcia spoke with Nurse Joy, who refused to give him any pain medication, “in total disregard [of] the doctor's orders.”[1] Id. He then returned to his cell where he struggled to sleep due to the intensity of the pain. Id. at ¶ 8.

         The next morning, Garcia went to work in the prison laundry facility with nothing to alleviate the pain he was experiencing. Compl. ¶ 9. He pleaded with correctional staff to get him medical attention. Id. at ¶ 10. A correctional officer later told him that he had spoken with medical staff and that Nurse Holly would be coming to see him. Id. Later, Nurse Holly arrived at Garcia's unit. Id. at ¶ 11. Garcia explained to her that the stitches in his mouth were coming apart, that he was experiencing excruciating pain, and that he had not been given any of his prescribed, post-surgical medication, but she refused to help him. Id.

         At approximately 2:00 p.m., another nurse came into Garcia's unit and gave him some pain medication. Compl. at ¶ 12. At that point, Garcia could barely speak due to the excessive swelling in his jaw and the loose stitches that had come apart in his mouth. Id. He had not eaten much because the medical staff had refused to order him a “soft diet.” Id. at ¶ 13. He did not receive all of the pain medication prescribed by Dr. Doe, nor had he received the Paradox mouthwash. Id.

         Garcia complained about the inadequate medical treatment he was receiving at MWCI by submitting a written inmate request to Health Administrator Lightner on December 22, 2015, but Lightner did not respond until two months later. Compl. at ¶ 15. Starting on December 28, medical staff locked Garcia in his cell for a week, in what Garcia perceived as an act of retaliation for raising his concerns about the inadequate medical treatment he was receiving. Id. at ¶ 16. Initially, medical staff explained to Garcia that the lockdown order was issued because his cellmate was complaining of flu-like symptoms, but Garcia knew that such quarantine orders are typically carried out in medical unit rooms with special ventilation, not in housing units, and that his cellmate had only complained of a tooth infection. Id. at ¶¶ 17-19. When he explained this to medical staff and to his unit manager, Counselor Supervisor Blanchard, the staff changed their position in an attempt to “cover up their tracks” and argued that he and his cellmate were on “sick-cell” status. Id. at ¶ 19.

         On January 20, 2016, Garcia saw Dr. Cuevas. Compl. at ¶ 14. He informed Dr. Cuevas about the filling that had fallen off during the surgery on December 21. Id. Cuevas told him that that was Dr. Doe's fault, and he refused to replace the filling. Id. Cuevas offered to extract the tooth instead, but Garcia refused out of fear of being injured again. Id.

         To this day, Garcia continues to experience complications from the surgery and the lack of proper treatment he received. Compl. at ¶ 21. On September 9, 2016, he was evaluated by another dentist at MWCI. Id. The dentist informed him that he had an unidentified object protruding from the area around his gum line on which Dr. Doe operated and that it needed to be removed. Id.

         III. ...


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