United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
MICHAEL P. SHEA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
March 5, 2018, the plaintiff, Jeffery DeAngelis, 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 Dr. Mahoob Ashraf, Dr. Monica Farinella, the
Correctional Managed Health Care (“CMHC”), the
Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”), and
DOC Commissioner Scott Semple for monetary and injunctive
relief. Compl. [Doc. #1]. He claims that the defendants
violated his Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and
unusual punishment by acting with deliberate indifference to
his serious medical needs. He also asserts state law claims
of medical malpractice and negligence. For the following
reasons, his complaint is dismissed in part.
Relevant Legal Principles
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).
2012, Dr. Ruiz at Cheshire Correctional Institution
prescribed the plaintiff Elavil to treat his severe nerve pain.
Compl. ¶ 6. The plaintiff exhibited a bad reaction to
Elavil, which included suicidal thoughts and confusion.
Id. at ¶ 7. Thus, Dr. Ruiz stopped the Elavil
and prescribed Neurontin instead. Id. at ¶ 8.
2013, Dr. Valletta determined that Neurontin was ineffective
in treating the plaintiff's condition. Compl. ¶ 9.
Dr. Valletta discontinued the Neurontin and prescribed
Lyrica for the plaintiff, which was approved by
the Utilization Review Committee (“URC”).
Id. Dr. Valletta also ordered an echocardiogram
(“ECG”) for the plaintiff, which was performed at
the UConn Health Center on March 25, 2014. Id. at
¶ 10. The ECG showed cardiomyopathy tricuspid
regurgitation and right ventricular volume overload.
Id. at ¶ 11. The cardiologist at UConn
recommended annual ECGs to monitor the plaintiff's
condition. Id. at ¶ 12.
plaintiff has had severe heart problems since childhood.
Compl. ¶ 13. He once spent weeks in the intensive care
unit at Yale Hospital because three out of four of his heart
chambers had shut down from pulmonary hypertension.
Id. at ¶ 14.
November 14, 2017, Dr. Joseph Breton diagnosed the plaintiff
with Hepatitis-C and ordered additional testing. Compl.
December 2017, the CMHC and the DOC instituted a policy for
correction officials to crush Neurontin and Lyica capsules
into a powder for inmates prescribed to take such
medications. Compl. ¶ 17. Dr. Breton told the plaintiff
that those medications should not be crushed because they are
non-narcotic and are meant to be dissolved in the stomach
after ingestion. Id. at ¶ 18. Afterward, Dr.
Breton informed the plaintiff that he was resigning his
position in the DOC because the URC repeatedly denied his
orders for testing and treatment of inmate patients.
Id. at ¶ 19.
March 20, 2018, Dr. Farinella, a member of the URC, ordered
officials at Osborn to discontinue the plaintiff's Lyrica
regimen, which he had been taking since July 2013, because
the prescription was not part of a “habeas
agreement.” Compl. ¶¶ 20, 22. She recommended
a trial of Neurontin or Capsaicin for the plaintiff instead.
Id. at ¶ 22. When he was called down to the
medical unit, the plaintiff contested Farinella's order,
claiming that there never was any “habeas
agreement” and that his previous use of Neurontin in
2012 had proven to be ineffective. Id. at
¶¶ 21, 23. As a result, Dr. Valletta applied for,
and received approval from, the URC to put the plaintiff back
on Lyrica. Id. at ¶ 24. Health Services
Administrator (“HSA”) Furey also told the
plaintiff that removing him from a Lyrica regimen could
result in seizures or other dangerous health problems and
that he would override Farinella's order. Id. at
¶¶ 25-26. The plaintiff continued to receive Lyrica
for the next eight days. Id. at ¶ 27.
March 29, 2018, the plaintiff was called down to the medical
unit to be evaluated by Dr. Ashraf, Dr. Breton's
replacement. Compl. ¶ 28. Dr. Ashraf informed the
plaintiff that Dr. Farinella had once again discontinued
Lyrica. Id. at ¶ 29. The plaintiff attempted to
explain his medical history, but Dr. Ashraf stated that there
was nothing he could do about the discontinuation.
Id. at ¶ 30. He ordered Capsaicin cream for the
plaintiff and said, “Go away now, thank you.”
Id. at ¶¶ 30-31.
plaintiff was walking out of the medical unit, HSA Furey
approached him, and the plaintiff told Furey what Dr. Ashraf
had said about Lyrica. Compl. ¶ 32. Furey asked Dr.
Ashraf whether he was going to “detox” the
plaintiff before removing him from Lyrica, to which Dr.
Ashraf replied, “I'll take care of him.”
Id. at ¶ 33. Later that day, when medications
were delivered, a nurse informed the plaintiff she did not
have anything for him because Lyrica was discontinued.
Id. at ¶ 34.
plaintiff began to suffer extreme withdrawal symptoms,
including headache, fever, nausea, diarrhea, and chills.
Compl. ¶ 35. He was unable to move, walk, sleep, or eat.
Id. The symptoms continued for five days until he
was called to the medical unit on April 3, 2018. Id.
at ¶ 36. Because the plaintiff could not move, a nurse
came to his housing unit and brought him 200 mg of Lyica, his
usual dosage. Id. She informed him that the medical
staff had “messed up [because he] was supposed to be
tapered off” the Lyrica regimen. Id.
Thereafter, the plaintiff submitted numerous requests,
grievances, health services reviews, and appeals regarding
the discontinuation of his Lyrica regimen. Id. at
plaintiff later learned that the DOC publicly announced its
decision to terminate its long-standing contract with UConn
Health Center, which provided healthcare to its inmate
population. Compl. ¶ 40. The contract was set to expire on
July 1, 2018. Id. at ¶ 41. Commissioner ...