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Henderson v. Vicky

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 31, 2018

VICKY, et al., Defendants.


          Stefan R. Underhill United States District Judge.

         Mark Anthony Henderson, currently confined at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut, filed this complaint pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The named defendants are Registered Nurses Vicky, Pam and Barbara, Dr. Carson Wright, Warden William Faneuff, and Health Services Administrator B. Liebel. Henderson seeks damages and injunctive relief. The complaint was received on June 12, 2018, and Henderson's motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on June 28, 2018.

         Under section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code, I 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. 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 plausible right to relief. Bell Atlantic Corp. 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.” Twombly, 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).

         I. Allegations

         On March 9, 2017, while confined at Northern Correctional Institution, Henderson was experiencing severe lower back pain and requested sick call medical treatment. Compl., No. 1, at 5, ¶ 1. On March 15, 2017, his request was returned with a notation that he had refused RN sick call. Id. On March 21 and April 13, 2017, Henderson filed grievances and an appeal claiming that no medical staff ever came to his cell for sick call.[1] Id., ¶ 2. Nurse Vicky met with Henderson and assured him that, if he withdrew the grievances about delays in treatment, the issue would not happen again. Id., ¶ 3. On April 27, 2017, Henderson withdrew all of the grievances on this issue. Id., ¶ 4.

         Henderson continued to experience severe lower back pain as well as pain from a torn right rotator cuff. His medication was not working and, at approximately 11:00 p.m. on April 20, 2017, he tried to inform staff of his “emergency.” Id. at 5-6, ¶¶ 5-6. The emergency call button in his cell did not work. Id. at 6, ¶ 7. Henderson lay on the floor, unable to sleep, and waited until staff toured the unit. The officer told Henderson to sign up for sick call. Henderson submitted sick call requests dated April 20 and 21, 2017, on this issue. Id., ¶ 8-9. Henderson filed a health services grievance about the intercom on June 9, 2017. Id., ¶ 12. Nurse Vicky returned the grievance stating that it was a custody issue. Id. at 7, ¶¶ 13-14. Health Administrator Liebel denied Henderson's appeal for the same reason. Id., ¶¶ 15-16.

         On May 18, 2017, Henderson again requested sick call to address his pain. Id., ¶ 17. On May 20, 2017, he spoke with Nurse Pam while she was doing rounds. She acknowledged his request but Henderson never was seen. Id. at 8, ¶¶ 18-20. Henderson filed health services grievances. Id., ¶ 20. On June 5, 2017, Nurse Vicky again asked Henderson to withdraw the grievance. He refused. Id., ¶ 21. The following day, Nurse Barbara asked him to withdraw the grievance against Nurse Pam. Henderson refused. Id., ¶ 22. On June 13, 2017, Henderson received his May 18, 2017 sick call request. Nurse Barbara has indicated falsely that Henderson had received a sick call examination. Id. at 9, ¶ 23.

         On June 29, 2017, Henderson was transferred to Walker Correctional Institution. Id., ¶ 25. He continued to pursue appeals of his grievance concerning Nurse Pam. Id., ¶ 26. On July 23, 2017, Henderson filed a grievance regarding Nurse Barbara. Id. at 9-10, ¶ 27.

         On June 22, 2017, after waiting thirty-five days, Dr. Wright saw Henderson for his complaints of chronic lower back pain and rotator cuff pain. Id. at 10, ¶ 28. Dr. Wright told Henderson that he would increase Henderson's pain medication dosage, submit a request to the Utilization Review Committee for an orthopedic consultative examination and arrange physical therapy. Id., ¶ 29. When he inquired on the status of the consultative examination, a nurse told Henderson that Dr. Wright had not ordered anything. Id., ¶ 30. A notation in Henderson's medical record indicates only that Henderson “may need URC.” Id., ¶ 31. Henderson then filed a grievance and grievance appeal regarding Dr. Wright's lack of treatment. Id. at 11, ¶¶ 32-33. On September 15, 2017, Henderson received a response to his grievance appeal indicating that he had been seen by an orthopedist on August 25, 2107. Id., ¶ 34.

         II. Analysis

         Henderson alleges that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in the following ways: Nurse Vicky failed to correct actions taken by Nurses Pam and Barbara in failing to provide timely and adequate medical treatment and failed to resolve the non-working intercom issues; Nurses Pam and Barbara failed to provide timely and adequate sick call medical treatment; Dr. Wright failed to provide timely and adequate medical treatment for thirty-five days and then failed to order any treatment; Health Services Administrator Liebel failed to correct the actions of the nurses and failed to resolve the issue of the non-working intercom; and Warden Faneuff failed to correct the non-working intercom.

         A. Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Needs

         Henderson alleges that defendants Nurses Vicky, Pam and Barbara, Dr. Wright and Health Services Administrator Liebel were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, specifically, his lower back and rotator cuff pain.

         To state an Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, Henderson 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, 104 (1976)). There are both objective and subjective components to the deliberate indifference standard. See Hathaway v. Coughlin, 37 F.3d 63, 66 (2d Cir. 1994). Objectively, the alleged deprivation must be “sufficiently serious.” Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991). The ...

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