United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
R. Underhill United States District Judge.
Pedro Gonzalez Torres (“Gonzalez”), an inmate
currently confined at MacDougall-Walker Correctional
Institution, commenced this action asserting various claims
relating to his medical care. By Initial Review Order filed
on August 29, 2017, I permitted the case to proceed only on a
deliberate indifference claim against defendant Rob, and on
claims regarding the side-effects of Neurontin against
defendants LaFrance, Naqvi, Semple and Chapdelaine. Doc. No.
30 at 5. On June 7, 2018, I granted in part the
defendants' motion to dismiss the amended complaint. I
dismissed with prejudice the claims against defendants
Chapdelaine and Semple for damages and all claims against
defendant Rob. Doc. No. 68. Accordingly, the only claim still
remaining in this case relates to the side-effects of
Neurontin. On March 7, 2018, Gonzalez filed a Motion for
Summary Judgment. Doc. No. 60. The defendants filed
oppositions to the motion. Doc. No. 74, 77. For the reasons
that follow, Gonzalez's motion is
Standard of Review
motion for summary judgment may be granted only where there
are no issues of material fact in dispute and the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); In re Dana Corp., 574 F.3d 129,
151 (2d Cir. 2009). The moving party may satisfy his burden
“by showing-that is pointing out to the district
court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case.” PepsiCo, Inc. v.
Coca-Cola Co., 315 F.3d 101, 105 (2d Cir. 2002) (per
curiam) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
Once the moving party meets that burden, the nonmoving party
must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine
issue for trial. Wright v. Goord, 554 F.3d 255, 266
(2d Cir. 2009). He must present such evidence as would allow
a jury to find in his favor in order to defeat the motion for
summary judgment. Graham v. Long Island R.R., 230
F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 2000). The nonmoving party “must
offer some hard evidence showing that its version is not
wholly fanciful.” D'Amico v. City of New
York, 132 F.3d 145, 149 (2d Cir. 1998). “The trial
court's function at this stage is to identify issues to
be tried, not decide them, ” Graham v. Long Island
R.R. Co., 230 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 2000), and so
“[o]nly when no reasonable trier of fact could find in
favor of the non-moving party should summary judgment be
granted.” White v. ABCO Eng'g Corp., 221
F.3d 293, 300 (2d Cir. 2000).
was transferred to MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution
in June 2016, where he was medically treated by Dr. Naqvi and
APRN LaFrance. On June 29, 2016, LaFrance diagnosed Gonzalez
as suffering from neuropathy and prescribed Neurontin. On
July 7, 2016, the Utilization Review Committee reviewed
Gonzalez's case, and on September 1, 2016, he underwent
an MRI. On September 11, 2016, Dr. Naqvi raised
Gonzalez's Neurontin dosage.
November 17, 2016, Gonzalez experienced lower back pain. Dr.
Naqvi examined Gonzalez and raised his Neurontin dosage from
400 mg to 600 mg twice daily. On November 22, 2016, December
19, 2016, and January 2, 2017 Gonzalez experienced more pain.
On December 4, 2016, Gonzalez began having issues with his
eyes and complained of double/blurry vision. Since January 5,
2017, Gonzalez has been experiencing double or blurry vision,
loss of memory, difficulty speaking, inability to focus,
headaches, sore throat, and mood swings. He complained to Dr.
Naqvi, two nurses and two eye doctors that he thought the
symptoms were side effects from Neurontin. Gonzalez's
family did an Internet search and discovered that all of his
symptoms were possible side effects of Neurontin.
March 21, 2017, Gonzalez experienced more symptoms. He tried
to see Dr. Naqvi but was referred to mental health staff. On
March 24, 2017, Gonzalez experienced severe back pain. He was
brought to the medical unit by stretcher and administered an
injection to relieve the pain.
motion for summary judgment, Gonzalez states that the
defendants violated his rights under the Eighth, Ninth, Tenth
and Fourteenth Amendments. Mot. Summ. J., Doc. No. 60 at 1.
As noted above, however, the amended complaint was permitted
to proceed only on an Eighth Amendment deliberate
indifference to medical needs claim relating to the
side-effects of Neurontin. Int'l Rev. Order, Doc. No. 30
at 5. Gonzalez cannot amend his complaint to include other
claims by referencing them in a motion or memorandum. See
Uddoh v. United Healthcare, 254 F.Supp.3d 424, 429
(E.D.N.Y. 2017) (citing cases). The other claims referenced
in the motion are not properly before the Court and are not
considered in this ruling.
prevail on his claim for deliberate indifference to a serious
medical need, Gonzalez must present evidence establishing two
elements. First, objectively, he must prove that the alleged
treatment decisions were “sufficiently serious.”
Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991). Gonzalez
must present evidence showing that his medical needs,
“either alone or in combination, pose an unreasonable
risk of serious damage to his health.” Walker v.
Schult, 717 F.3d 119, 125 (2d Cir. 2013). “There
is no settled, precise metric to guide a court in its
estimation of the seriousness of a prisoner's medical
condition.” Brock v. Wright, 315 F.3d 158, 162
(2d Cir. 2003). However, the Second Circuit has identified
“a non-exhaustive list” of factors to consider,
such as: “(1) whether a reasonable doctor or patient
would perceive the medical need in question as
‘important and worthy of comment or treatment,' (2)
whether the medical condition significantly affects daily
activities, and (3) ‘the existence of chronic and
substantial pain.'” Id. (quoting
Chance v. Armstrong, 143 F.3d 698, 702 (2d Cir.
subjectively, the defendants must have “act[ed] with a
sufficiently culpable state of mind.” Salahuddin v.
Goord, 467 F.3d 263, 280 (2d Cir. 2006). They must have
been “actually aware of” or deliberately
indifferent to “a substantial risk that serious inmate
harm w[ould] result” from their actions or inactions.
Id. “[T]he official's actions [must be]
more than merely negligent, ” for negligence that might
support a claim for medical malpractice is not cognizable
under section 1983. Id. Nor is “a mere
difference of opinion over a matter of medical
judgment.” Chance, 143 F.3d at 703.
argues that Dr. Naqvi and APRN LaFrance knew of his medical
issues, knew that the issues could be side effects of
Neurontin, but did not discontinue or change his medication
or investigate his symptoms. However, he provides no evidence
to show that the alleged symptoms actually were side effects
defendants have submitted Gonzalez's medical records
which document his complaints of blurry vision and contain an
ophthalmologist's report stating that he could not
substantiate any of Gonzalez's ocular complaints on
physical examination. Doc. No. 75 at 7, 152, 157, 171. The
other purported side effects are mentioned once, after
Gonzalez received a copy of an article listing possible
Neurontin side effects. A review of the record shows Gonzalez
has presented no admissible evidence supporting his
assumption that his complaints are side effects from
Neurontin. Nor has he presented any evidence that Dr. Naqvi
and LaFrance were ...