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Kyles v. Pillai

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 6, 2018

OMPRAKASH PILLAI, M.D., et al. Defendants.


          Michael P. Shea, United States District Judge.

         On June 14, 2018, the plaintiff, Rodney Martin Kyles, an inmate currently confined at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution (“MWCI”) in Suffield, Connecticut, brought a civil action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Dr. Omprakash Pillai and Nursing Supervisor Tawanna Furtick for violating his Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment. Compl. (ECF No. 1). He seeks damages, preliminary injunctive relief, and declaratory relief. Id. ¶¶ 18-20. On October 5, 2018, Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel granted the plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 6). For the following reasons, the complaint may proceed against the defendants.

         I. 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 America, 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).

         II. Factual Allegations

         In 2009, the plaintiff was diagnosed with a neurological disorder. Compl. ¶ 1. In 2010, he underwent L3-4 and L4-5 bilateral laminectomies, which alleviated many of his painful symptoms. Id. However, in March of 2017, many of his painful symptoms resurfaced, and the medication regimen he was on became ineffective in treating the pain. Id. In October 2017, the plaintiff received an epidural steroid injection (“ESI”), which only relieved his pain for five days. Id.

         On May 9, 2017, the plaintiff went to UConn Medical Center and underwent a second MRI. Compl. ¶ 2. Afterward, he was diagnosed with discopathy. Id. A third MRI on July 17, 2017 revealed severe multi-level spinal stenosis. Id.

         On several occasions from May to October of 2017, the plaintiff wrote Inmate Requests to Dr. Pillai regarding his chronic pain and the inadequacy of his treatment regimen. Compl. ¶ 2; Pl.'s Exs. I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P (ECF No. 1 at 24-31). He wrote a grievance against the medical unit at MWCI on October 24, 2017, which went unanswered. Compl. ¶ 2; Pl.'s Ex. Q (ECF No. 1 at 32).

         On November 28, 2017, the plaintiff met with an orthopedics specialist, Dr. Shantay Wells. Compl. ¶ 2. Dr. Wells advised the plaintiff that he had two options: (a) obtain another ESI, or (b) surgery. Id. at ¶ 3. Dr. Wells recommended that surgery remain as the plaintiff's last option, and the plaintiff opted to receive another ESI. Id.

         On February 7, 2018, the plaintiff received another ESI, which alleviated much of his chronic pain. Compl. ¶ 4. However, on March 3, 2018, the plaintiff was readmitted to UConn Medical Center for a period of three weeks. Id. at ¶ 5. While in the hospital, the plaintiff mostly remained lying on his back and “never once . . . experience[d] any pain or numbness . . . .” Id.

         The plaintiff returned to MWCI on two occasions and was sent to the infirmary. Compl. ¶ 6. There, he remained lying on his back without experiencing any numbness or pain. Id. Upon discharge from the infirmary, the plaintiff returned to his housing unit. Id. at ¶ 7. He was given a new mattress on March 30, 2018. Id. By the end of May 2018, however, he began experiencing numbness and pain while lying down, regardless of his position. Id. He experienced numbness and pain on both sides of his body, including his shoulders, hips, legs, and feet. Id.

         On June 24, 2018, the plaintiff submitted an Inmate Request to Captain Patton requesting a second mattress to alleviate his pain, but Patton would not authorize a second mattress. Compl. ¶ 8; Pl.'s Ex. Y (ECF No. 1 at 40). He sent another request to the medical department on July 19 complaining about his pain and the lack of sleep he was receiving. Compl. ¶ 9; Pl.'s Ex. Z (ECF No. 1 at 41). The responding staff member stated that she would schedule the plaintiff to meet with his provider. Pl.'s Ex. Z.

         The plaintiff submitted an Inmate Request and a Request for Reasonable Accommodations (“RRA”) to his unit manager seeking a hospital mattress for his condition, similar to the one he had while at UConn Medical Center and in the infirmary at MWCI that alleviated his pain. Compl. ¶ 10; Pl.'s Exs. 2, 3 (ECF No. 1 at 43, 44). The unit manager wrote in response that the plaintiff would have to wait one year to receive a new mattress unless the medical department orders otherwise. Pl.'s Ex. 3.

         On August 16, 2018, Dr. Pillai sent Nurse Vivian Martell to speak with Nursing Supervisor Furtick and explain the plaintiff's medical condition in an attempt to obtain a second mattress for him. Compl. ¶ 11. Furtick refused to provide the second mattress. Id. The plaintiff sent her an Inmate Request the next day asking why she had refused to provide a second mattress when it appeared that Dr. Pillai had approved it. Id. at ¶ 14; Pl.'s Ex. 5 (ECF No. 1 at 46). Another official named C. Boilard responded to the request stating that “[n]o one is approved for a double mattress.” Pl.'s Ex. 5. The ...

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