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Ramos v. University of Connecticut Health Center

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 1, 2018

JOSE E. RAMOS, Plaintiff,
v.
UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT HEALTH CENTER, et al., Defendants.

          CORRECTED RULING ON AMENDED COMPLAINT AND PENDING MOTIONS

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Jose Ramos (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, is incarcerated in the MacDougall building at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution (“MacDougall”) in Suffield, Connecticut. He has sued the University of Connecticut Health Center (“UCONN”), Commissioner Scott Semple, Wardens Carol Chapdelaine and William Mulligan, Drs. Syed Naqvi and Kevin McCrystal, Nurse Jane Doe, Nurse Supervisor, and Medical Supervisor Heidi Greene (collectively “Defendants”) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         Mr. Ramos has filed an Amended Complaint. ECF No. 14. He has also filed a number of motions, including: a motion for service of the Complaint; a motion for default; two motions for default judgment; a motion for ruling on the motion for default judgment; a motion to file an affidavit; a motion for preliminary injunction; and a motion for copies of documents.

         For the following reasons, the Amended Complaint is DISMISSED in part and the motion for service of summons and the Complaint is DENIED as moot. The remaining pending motions are DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Mr. Ramos sued Defendants on February 23, 2017, ECF No. 1, and filed an Amended Complaint on August 29, 2017. ECF No. 14.

         In the Amended Complaint, Mr. Ramos alleges that, in October 2012, medical staff at Corrigan Correctional Institution (“Corrigan”) prescribed Motrin to treat his shoulder pain. Am. Compl., ECF No. 14, at 7 ¶¶ 1-2. Mr. Ramos claims that the pain stemmed from a shoulder injury sustained during his arrest. Id. ¶ 1.

         Beginning in May 2016, Mr. Ramos allegedly did not receive Motrin for several months. Id. ¶ 3. After prison officials transferred Mr. Ramos to the Walker building, a physician prescribed Mr. Ramos Ibuprofen for pain. Id. at 13, Ex. A. On June 13, 2016, Dr. Naqvi, a physician at MacDougall, prescribed Mr. Ramos 600 milligrams of Motrin to be taken twice a day for two months. Id. at 16, Ex. B. On July 31, 2016, Mr. Ramos submitted two requests to the medical department at MacDougall. Id. at 13-14, Ex. A. In the first request, Mr. Ramos sought a bulk medication prescription for Motrin and to be seen by a doctor. Id. at 13, Ex. A. He claimed that he had not been receiving his bulk medication since he had arrived at MacDougall and was experiencing severe shoulder pain. See Id. He also informed medical staff that he was supposed to be doing rubber band exercises. See id.

         In the second request, Mr. Ramos sought bulk pain medication and to be seen by a doctor or other medical staff member. Id. at 14, Ex. A. He again informed medical staff that he was supposed to be doing rubber band exercises. Id. In response, on an unidentified date in August 2016, a medical staff member scanned an order for Motrin to the pharmacy, indicated that there was no order to do rubber band exercises, and put Mr. Ramos on the sick call list to see a physician. Id.

         Mr. Ramos states that he did not see a doctor until June 27, 2017. Id. at 8 ¶¶ 7-8. On that date, correctional staff allegedly woke Mr. Ramos up and escorted him to the medical department. Id. ¶ 7. Dr. Kevin McCrystal allegedly informed Mr. Ramos that he was going to examine him in connection with his asthma condition. Id. ¶¶ 8-9. Mr. Ramos allegedly informed Dr. McCrystal and that he had been seeking an appointment with a physician for a year for other medical conditions. Id. ¶ 10. Dr. McCrystal allegedly directed Mr. Ramos to submit a sick call request. Id. ¶ 11. When Mr. Ramos stated that he had already submitted requests for treatment, Dr. McCrystal allegedly became upset and accused Mr. Ramos of being a liar and of changing his story regarding his requests for treatment. Id. ¶¶ 12-14. Dr. McCrystal allegedly then discontinued Mr. Ramos's prescription for pain medication. Id. ¶ 14.

         Mr. Ramos claims that Defendants violated his First, Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Id. at 9 ¶ 21. He seeks monetary damages and injunctive and declaratory relief. Id. ¶¶ 22-26.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Initial Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the court must review prisoner civil complaints against governmental actors and “dismiss . . . any portion of [a] complaint [that] is frivolous, malicious, or 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.” Id. Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 (a)(2).

         Although detailed allegations are not required, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when a plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A complaint that includes only “‘labels and conclusions, ' ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action' or ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement, '” does not meet the facial plausibility standard. Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557 (2007)). Although courts still have an obligation to interpret “a pro se complaint liberally, ” the complaint must still include sufficient factual allegations to meet the standard of facial plausibility. See Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).

         B. Entry of Default and Default Judgment

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 provides a two-step process to obtain a default judgment. New York v. Green, 420 F.3d 99, 104 (2d Cir. 2005). The first step is to seek entry of default. Id. “When a party against whom affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, a plaintiff may bring that fact to the court's attention, and Rule 55(a) empowers the clerk of the court to enter a default against a party that has not appeared or defended.” Id. “Once default has been entered, the allegations of the complaint that establish the defendant's liability are accepted as true, except for those relating to the amount of damages.” Coles v. Lieberman, Michaels & Kelly, LLC, No. 10-cv-484S, 2011 WL 3176467, at *1 (W.D.N.Y. July 27, 2011) (citation omitted); see also Transatlantic Marine Claims Agency, Inc., 109 F.3d 105, 108 (“It is, of course, ancient learning that a default judgment deems all the well-pleaded allegations in the pleadings to be admitted.”) (citing Greyhound Exhibitgroup, Inc. v. E.L.U.L. Realty Corp., 973 F.2d 155, 158 (2d Cir. 1992) (“While a party's default is deemed to constitute a concession of all well pleaded allegations of liability, it is not considered an admission of damages.”)).

         The second step is to seek a default judgment under Rule 55(b). “Rule 55(b)(1) allows the clerk to enter a default judgment if the plaintiff's claim is for a sum certain and the defendant has failed to appear and is not an infant or incompetent person. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(1). ‘In all other cases, ' Rule 55(b)(2) governs, and it requires a party seeking a judgment by default to apply to the court for entry of a default judgment.” New York v. Green, 420 F.3d 99, 104 (2d Cir. 2005). Under Rule 55(b)(2), a court must determine whether liability is appropriate, based on the facts alleged in the Complaints. Coles, 2011 WL 3176467, at *1 (citation omitted); accord United States v. Bunbury, 15-cv-3764 (JS), 2015 9050581, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 15, 2015) (“[I]n determining a motion for default judgment, the Court is responsible for ensuring that the pleadings provide an appropriate basis for liability.” (citing United States v. Kemp, No. 15-cv-02419 (PKC), 2015 WL 6620624, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 30, 2015))). The court “may conduct hearings . . . when, to enter or effectuate judgment, it needs to: [] conduct an accounting; [] determine the amount of damages; [] establish the trust of any allegation by evidence; or [] investigate any other matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2).

         C. Injunctive Relief

         Preliminary injunctive relief “is an ‘extraordinary and drastic remedy . . . that should not be granted unless the movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden of persuasion.” Moore v. Consol. Edison Co. of New York, Inc., 409 F.3d 506, 510 (2d Cir. 2005) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). To warrant preliminary injunctive relief, the moving party must demonstrate (a) that he or she will suffer “irreparable harm” in the absence of an injunction, and (b) either (1) a “likelihood of success on the merits or (2) sufficiently serious questions going to the merits [of the case] to make them a fair ground for litigation and a balance of hardships tipping decidedly toward the party requesting preliminary injunctive relief.” Cacchillo v. Insmed, Inc., 638 F.3d 401, 405-06 (2d Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         If a party seeks a permanent injunction, he or she “must demonstrate (1) irreparable harm . . . and (2) actual success on the merits.” Ognibene v. Parkes, 671 F.3d 174, 182 (2d Cir. 2012). Thus, the standard for a permanent injunction is similar to the standard for a preliminary injunction, but a plaintiff must show actual success rather than a likelihood of success. See Amoco Prod. Co. v. Vill. of Gambell, 480 U.S. 531, 546 n.12 (1987).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Amended Complaint

         1. University of Connecticut

         To state a claim under section 1983, Mr. Ramos must allege facts showing that the defendant, a person acting under color of state, law deprived him of a federally protected right. See Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 930 (1982). The Supreme Court has held that a state agency is not a person within the meaning of section 1983. See Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (state and state agencies not persons within meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983).

         Because UCONN is a state agency, it is not considered to be a person subject to suit under section 1983. See Gaby v. Board of Trustees of Community Technical Colleges, 348 F.3d 62, 63 (2d Cir. 2003) (per curiam) (noting decisions holding that state universities and their boards of trustees are not persons within the meaning of section 1983); Stewart v. John Dempsey Hospital, No. 3:03-cv-1703 (WWE), 2004 WL 78145, at *2 (D. Conn. Jan. 9, 2004) (holding that John Dempsey Hospital University of Connecticut Health Center is not a person within the meaning of section 1983); Jolly v. Correctional Managed Health Care, No. 3:04-cv-1582 (RNC), 2009 WL 233667, at *3 (D. Conn. Jan. 30, 2009) (holding that Correctional Managed Health Care, as “a division of a state agency, the University of Connecticut Health Center, ” is not a person within the meaning of § 1983), aff'd, 375 Fed. App'x 67 (2d Cir. 2010); Cassells v. Univ. Hosp. at Stony Brook, No. 86 C 0698, 1987 WL 3717, at *4 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 12, 1987) (“[P]laintiff's section 1983 claim against State University and University Hospital must fall because neither is a “person” within the meaning of section 1983.”).

         Accordingly, consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), Mr. Ramos's claims against UCONN are dismissed as lacking a basis in law.

         2. Semple, Chapdelaine, Mulligan, Greene, Nurse Supervisor and Doe

         Mr. Ramos describes Scott Semple as the Commissioner of Correction and Carol Chapdelaine and William Mulligan as Wardens of MacDougall. None of these Defendants are medical providers. Mr. Ramos also does not mention any of these Defendants in the body of the Complaint. As a result, Mr. Ramos has not alleged that Commissioner Semple, Warden Mulligan, or Warden Chapdelaine violated his federally or constitutionally protected rights.

         Mr. Ramos also names Medical Supervisor Heidi Greene, a Nursing Supervisor and a Jane Doe Nurse as defendants. He identifies them as employees at MacDougall. He does not, however, refer to or mention these defendants in the body of the Complaint. Thus, Mr. Ramos has not alleged that Nurse Supervisor, Nurse Jane Doe, ...


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