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Blaine v. Uconn Health Care

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 17, 2018

UCONN HEALTH CARE, et al. Defendants.


          Michael P. Shea United States District Judge

         On February 28, 2018, the plaintiff, Jayevon Blaine, an inmate currently confined at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut, brought a civil action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the University of Connecticut Correctional Managed Health Care Center and three Department of Correction (“DOC”) clinical workers, Nurse Rose Walker, Nurse Gina Burns, and “Dr. Palie, ” for acting with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, in violation of his Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment, and for medical malpractice. Compl. (ECF No. 1). This Court permitted his Eighth Amendment claim and medical malpractice claim to proceed against Burns but denied the claims against the other defendants. Initial Review Order (ECF No. 7) at 7.

         On May 3, 2018, the plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint clarifying many of the factual deficiencies of his original complaint as explained in the Court's Initial Review Order. Mot. to Amend Compl. (ECF No. 9). He attached an amended complaint with additional factual allegations against Burns and eight new defendants: Nurse Hile, Nurse Michaud, Nurse Andelam, Nurse Lydia, Nurse Collins, Dr. Pillai, [1]Health Services Administrator Lightner, and Dr. Farinella. Am. Compl. (ECF No. 9-1). He is suing Burns, Hile, Michaud, Andelam, and Lydia in their individual capacities and Collins, Pillai, Lightner, and Farinella in both their individual and official capacities. Id. The plaintiff has also moved for the appointment of counsel to represent him in this case and for an order directing the defendants to respond to his amended complaint. Mem. of Law in Supp. of Pl.'s Mot. for Appointment of Counsel (“Mot. Appoint Counsel”) (ECF No. 10); Mot. to Direct Defs. To Answer Am. Compl. (ECF No. 12).

         Because the defendants have not yet responded to the initial complaint, the Court will GRANT the plaintiff's motion to amend (ECF No. 9) and review the claims stated in the amended complaint (ECF No. 9-1). However, for reasons that follow, the motion to appoint counsel (ECF No. 10) is DENIED without prejudice and the motion directing the defendants to respond to the amended complaint (ECF No. 12) is DENIED as moot.

         I. Motion to Amend Complaint (ECF No. 9)

         A plaintiff may amend his complaint once as a matter of right within twenty-one days after service of the complaint or, if a responsive pleading is required, within twenty-one days after service of the responsive pleading. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a); O'dell v. Bill, 13 Civ. 1275 (FJS/TWD), 2015 WL 710544, *44 (N.D.N.Y. Feb. 18, 2015). In all other cases, the plaintiff may amend his complaint only with the Court's leave. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Rule 15(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that the Court's permission to amend a complaint “shall be freely given when justice so requires.” “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.” Pangburn v. Culbertson, 200 F.3d 65, 70 (2d Cir. 1999) (internal quotations omitted).

         In this case, defendant Burns returned her waiver of service of process on April 11, 2018; see Order No. 8; and the plaintiff filed the instant motion to amend his complaint on May 3, 2018. Although the motion was filed over twenty-one days passed the waiver of service, Burns has not yet responded to the initial complaint. Therefore, in the interests of justice, the Court will GRANT the motion to amend the complaint and review the claims stated therein.

         II. Review of Amended Complaint (ECF No. 9-1)

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the 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, 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.” 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)); 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

         In his amended complaint, the plaintiff alleges the following facts:

         On December 28, 2017, Burns evaluated the plaintiff for a lump he had on his genitals, [2] which caused him constant pain. Am. Compl. ¶ 15. The plaintiff expressed to her that his pain “was an eight on a scale of one to ten.” Id. Although Burns referred the plaintiff to see Dr. Pillai, she refused to provide him any pain medication. Id.

         The next day, the plaintiff saw Dr. Pillai. Am. Compl. ¶ 16. The plaintiff told him that the lump hurt when he touched it or when he would lay on his side. Id. Pillai said that the plaintiff was “going to have to hav[e] testing done, ” but he too would not give the plaintiff any medication for his pain. Id.

         On January 15, 2018, the plaintiff received his written medical request back from Nurse Michaud stating that he had been evaluated. Am. Compl. ¶ 17. However, the ...

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