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Currytto v. Doe

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 9, 2018

JOHN DOE, et al. Defendants.


          Michael P. Shea, United States District Judge

         On May 11, 2018, the plaintiff, Kevin W. Currytto, an inmate currently confined at Osborn Correctional Institution (“Osborn”) in Somers, Connecticut, brought a civil action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against thirty employees of the Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”) for violating his rights under the United States Constitution, Connecticut Constitution, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. He raised four separate unrelated causes of action against officials at three separate prison facilities. See Initial Review Order [Doc.#15] at 2.

         On July 10, 2018, this Court dismissed the plaintiff's complaint without prejudice for failure to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20. Initial Review Order at 2-3. The Court ruled that the plaintiff had improperly joined multiple unrelated claims in his complaint. Id. In dismissing the complaint, the Court gave the plaintiff one opportunity to amend his complaint alleging facts in support of one of the claims asserted therein. Id. at 3.

         On July 18, 2018, the plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint and attached an amended complaint alleging facts in support of one of his constitutional claims: the Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs for failure to adequately treat his arm injury, heart condition, and mental health needs. Mot. to Amend Compl. [Doc.#19]; Am. Compl. [Doc.#19-1]. The plaintiff also filed a motion for the appointment of counsel [Doc.#20] and a motion for preliminary injunctive relief [Doc.#21]. For the following reasons, the Court will GRANT the plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint, permit his amended complaint to proceed in part, and DENY the motion for appointment of counsel. The Court will postpone its ruling on the motion for preliminary injunctive relief until after the defendants have had a chance to respond to the motion and to the amended complaint.

         I. Motion to Amend Complaint [Doc.#19]

         Because the Court already granted the plaintiff the opportunity to amend his complaint, and the plaintiff has complied with the Court's instruction to assert one of the improperly joined claims in the amended complaint, the Court hereby GRANTS the motion to amend [Doc.#19] and reopens this case. The Court will now review the amended complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         A. Standard of Review

         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).

         B. Factual Allegations

         The amended complaint [Doc.#19-1] alleges that fifteen DOC officials violated his Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment by acting with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The fifteen defendants are Dr. Vicki Blumberg, Nurse Jane Doe 1, Health Services Administrator Richard Furey, Dr. Joseph Breton, Dr. Johnny Wright, Nurse H. O'Connor, Nurse Tiffany Dyle, Nurse S. Beckford, Nurse Jane Doe 2, Dr. John Doe, Nurse Jane Doe 3, Nurse Chris Doe, Dr. Leonard Santarrico, Nurse St. John, and Dr. Matthew Barr. The plaintiff is suing these defendants for damages and injunctive relief.

         The plaintiff suffers from chronic neuropathic pain in his right arm as a result of being bitten by a K-9 dog during an arrest in Bridgeport in 2010. Am. Compl. ¶ 2. The bite had punctured and torn his right bicep and triceps and caused significant nerve damage. Id. at ¶¶ 3-4. He also suffers from mental illnesses, including delusional/schizoaffective disorder, and an undiagnosed heart condition. Id. at ¶¶ 5, 156.

         The plaintiff was admitted into DOC custody on May 1, 2017 and placed in the Bridgeport Correctional Center (“BCC”). Am. Compl. ¶ 1. One week after admission, he underwent a health screening with Dr. Blumberg. Id. at ¶¶ 7-8. For his chronic neuropathic pain, Dr. Blumberg prescribed the plaintiff the pain reliever Elavil, ibuprofen, and blood pressure medication. Id. at ¶ 9. The plaintiff was also given an EKG for his heart condition. Id. at ¶ 10. On May 15, the plaintiff was evaluated by Dr. Dr. Lowthert for psychiatric issues associated with anxiety. Id. at ¶ 11. Dr. Lowthert offered to prescribed him Remeron and Trazadone for his anxiety, but the plaintiff declined the offer and refused the medication. Id. at ¶ 12.

         The combined medication regimen ultimately caused the plaintiff to experience several side effects, including grogginess, lethargy, and an inability to function normally. Am. Compl. ¶ 13. On August 4, 2017, he wrote a request to the Nurse Jane Doe 1 in the medical unit at BCC for his medications to be discontinued. Id. at ¶¶ 14-15. Although he had intended on receiving other medications for his chronic pain, Doe 1 “mistakenly” discontinued all of his medications. Id. at ¶¶ 15-16.

         On August 17, the plaintiff wrote another request to have his blood pressure medication restored and to be evaluated by a physician for his chronic neuropathic pain in his arm. Am. Compl. ¶ 17. Dr. Blumberg received the request and reordered the blood pressure medication. Id. at ¶ 18. However, the plaintiff was never again evaluated by the medical unit at BCC. Id. at ¶ 19. He alleges that Blumberg “did not exercise reasonable care” in addressing his chronic medical condition. Id. at ¶ 21. Both Blumberg and Doe 1 failed to place the plaintiff on “medical hold” until his health needs were addressed, which is required by the DOC Administrative Directives. Id. at ¶¶ 23-24.

         On September 19, 2017, the plaintiff was transferred to MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution (“MWCI”) for classification assessment. Am. Compl. ¶ 25. In preparing his transfer summary, Doe 1 failed to record the plaintiff's medical history or need for follow-up care. Id. at ¶ 26. Upon his arrival at MWCI, the plaintiff underwent another health screening. Id. at ¶¶ 28-29. He was evaluated by Nurse Chris Doe on September 21. Id. at ¶ 30. The plaintiff reported to Chris Doe that he suffered from chronic neuropathic pain in his arm from a dog bite and requested to be placed on the list to see a physician, but Chris Doe said to him, “I see nothing about dog bites in your file.” Id. at ¶ 32. The plaintiff, however, has visible puncture wounds and scars on his right arm. Id. at ¶¶ 33-34. After conducting a cursory observation of the plaintiff's body, Chris Doe noted in a report that the plaintiff had “faint small scars” and “no documentation of [a] dog bite in [his] chart.” Id. at ¶¶ 35-39. Plaintiff alleges that Chris Doe failed to conduct a comprehensive physical examination of him and improperly relied on Nurse Doe 1's transfer summary from BCC. Id. at ¶¶ 40-41.

         The plaintiff explained in detail his medical history to Chris Doe, including that he had been in pain since he had to discontinue his medications at BCC. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 42-45. However, Chris Doe improperly documented his medical history and failed to conduct a thorough physical examination or place the plaintiff on the list to see a doctor. Id. at ΒΆΒΆ 47, 49. He gave the plaintiff a bottle of Motrin tablets for his chronic pain and sent him ...

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