United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION TO CORRECT INITIAL REVIEW
R. Underhill, United States District Judge.
August 7, 2017, Kenya Brown (“Brown”),
incarcerated and pro se, filed a complaint pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Department of Correction
(“DOC”) Commissioner Scott Semple, Dr. Elizabeth
Coursen, Dr. Paul Chaplin, Dr. Berger, Nurse Jane Ventrella,
“C.S.W.” Matthew Green, Deputy Warden Jeffery
Zegerzewski, Counselor Michelle King, Lieutenant Paulsinski,
Warden Antonio Santiago, Dr. Josylyn Cruz, Dr. Henry Crabb,
and Nurse Nicole Karabestos for violating his rights under
the First Amendment, Eighth Amendment, and the Prison Rape
Elimination Act of 2003 (“PREA”) under 42 U.S.C.
§§ 15601-15609. On September 13, 2017, I issued my
Initial Review Order (Doc. #11) dismissing Brown's PREA
claim and Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference
to medical needs. The defendants have not yet responded to
September 22, 2017, Brown filed a motion to reconsider the
Initial Review Order and reinstate his Eighth Amendment claim
against defendants Berger, Chaplin, and Cruz, which he states
is for “deliberate indifference to mental health
care” and argues is distinguishable from deliberate
indifference to medical needs. Mot. for Recons. (Doc. #14).
Brown contends that he has stated sufficient factual
allegations showing that defendants Berger, Chaplin, and Cruz
“conspired to ban him from therapy to make him whole
again” after he was repeatedly abused by Dr. Coursen. I
will GRANT Brown's motion to reconsider
the Initial Review Order but DENY the relief
initial matter, Brown's attempt to draw a distinction
between a claim for deliberate indifference to serious
medical needs and what he argues is his claim of deliberate
indifference to mental health is immaterial. The Second
Circuit has held that the deliberate indifference standard
applies to both physical and psychiatric care provided to
inmates at a prison. See Langley v. Coughlin, 888
F.2d 252, 254 (2d Cir. 1989); see also Young v.
Choinski, 15 F.Supp.2d 172, 184 (D. Conn. 2014)
(deliberate indifference standard is equally applicable to
constitutional adequacy of psychological or psychiatric care
provided at prison). Thus, I correctly analyzed Brown's
claim against Berger, Chaplin, and Cruz as one of deliberate
indifference to medical needs.
support of his Eighth Amendment claim, Brown alleges that
Berger, Chaplin, and Cruz “conspired . . . to ban [him]
from therapy to make him whole again, and/or entertain the
full nature of his claims against [Dr.] Coursen.”
Compl. at 17. In addition to preventing him from seeking
redress for his problems with Dr. Coursen, Brown alleges that
these three defendants knowingly placed him with Dr. Frane,
with whom he had a conflict of interest, thereby preventing
him from receiving appropriate therapy for his mental health
needs. Id. at 14. This caused Brown to become
addicted to Klonopin and suffer “severe mental
already permitted Brown's First Amendment retaliation
claim to proceed against Berger, Chaplin, and Cruz for their
alleged confiscation of his grievances and other efforts to
prevent him from seeking redress for the sexual abuse.
See Initial Review Order (Doc.#11) at 11.
Brown's attempt to raise a separate claim of
“deliberate indifference to mental health”
against those same defendants is insufficient.
order to prevail on his deliberate indifference claim, Brown
must show both that his medical need was serious and that the
defendants acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind.
See Smith v. Carpenter, 316 F.3d 178, 184 (2d Cir.
2003) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 492 U.S. 97, 105
(1976)). The medical condition must be “one that may
produce death, degeneration, or extreme pain.” See
Hathaway v. Coughlin, 99 F.3d 550, 553 (2d Cir. 1996)
(internal quotation marks omitted). Subjectively, the
defendants must have been actually aware of a substantial
risk that Brown would suffer serious harm as a result of
their conduct. See Salahuddin v. Goord, 467 F.3d
263, 280-81 (2d Cir. 2006).
unclear from his complaint and his motion for reconsideration
what mental health condition, if any, he claims to suffer
from or the extent to which Berger, Chaplin, and Cruz knew
about his condition. Even if Brown could satisfy the
objective component of the deliberate indifference standard,
he has not stated sufficient factual allegations to show that
the defendants sought to deprive him of mental health
treatment or acted in such a way that they knew could cause
Brown to suffer serious mental anguish. Even accepting as
true Brown's allegation that the defendants placed him
with Dr. Frane, with whom they knew he had a “conflict
of interest, ” that allegation does not show how the
defendants were deliberately indifferent to his mental health
needs. Brown's deliberate indifference claim against the
three defendants is tenuous and devoid of factual support.
Therefore, his Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim
against Berger, Chaplin, and Cruz remains DISMISSED.
motion to reconsider the Initial Review Order (Doc.#14) is
GRANTED, but the relief requested therein is DENIED. His
Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim ...