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Bland v. Franceschi

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 29, 2019

CRAIG L. BLAND, Plaintiff,



         Preliminary Statement of the Case

         The Plaintiff, Craig L. Bland, formerly in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Corrections (“DOC”), commenced this civil rights action pursuant to Title 42, U.S.C. § 1983. He brings his claims against Correctional Managed Health Care employees Dr. Naqvi, Health Services Administrator Bush, Head Correctional Nurse Zukowska, Correctional Nurse Jackson and former Correctional Nurse Fontaine. He also brings claims against Department of Correction employees former Lieutenant Holmes, Lieutenant Padro and Correctional Officer Franceschi. The Plaintiff alleges that all defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. The Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, to which the Plaintiff objected. The Court heard oral argument on January 16, 2019. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED as to all Defendants.

         Standard of Review

         The standard under which the Court reviews motions for summary judgment is well-established. “The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court's inquiry focuses on “whether there is the need for a trial-whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). Once the movant meets his burden, the nonmoving party must set forth “‘specific facts' demonstrating that there is ‘a genuine issue for trial.'” Wright v. Goord, 554 F.3d 255, 266 (2d Cir. 2009) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). “[T]he party opposing summary judgment may not merely rest on the allegations or denials of his pleading” to establish the existence of a disputed fact. Wright, 554 F.3d at 266; accord Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990). However, until the moving party comes forward with evidence that would establish his entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, the non-moving party is under no obligation to produce any evidence. Amaker v. Foley, 274 F.3d 677, 681 (2d Cir. 2001).

         “[T]here is no issue for trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party. If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50. Indeed, summary judgment is evaluated in the same fashion as a motion for a directed verdict. Id. at 250. The Supreme Court has “noted that the ‘genuine issue' summary judgment standard is ‘very close' to the ‘reasonable jury' directed verdict standard: The primary difference between the two motions is procedural; summary judgment motions are usually made before trial and decided on documentary evidence, while directed verdict motions are made at trial and decided on the evidence that has been admitted.” Id. at 251. “In essence, though, the inquiry under each is the same: whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Id. at 252-53.

         However, “at the summary judgment stage the judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 249. “[C]ourts may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence when confronted with a motion for summary judgment. All evidence presented by the nonmoving party must be taken as true, and all inferences must be construed in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Catanzaro v. Weiden, 140 F.3d 91, 93-94 (2d Cir. 1998), on reh'g, 188 F.3d 56 (2d Cir. 1999) (citing United States v. Diebold, 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962)). In sum, “where the facts specifically averred by [the nonmovant] contradict facts specifically averred by the movant, the motion must be denied.” Lujan, 497 U.S. at 888.


         The following facts are largely undisputed.

         On November 1, 2015, the Plaintiff was incarcerated at the New Haven Correctional Center. At approximately 4:00 a.m. the Plaintiff was escorted from the restricted housing unit to the medical unit. At the medical unit, Defendant Nurse Jackson, believing the Plaintiff to be an inmate named Murphy, advised the Plaintiff that she was going to administer the last dose of his medication. The Plaintiff did not advise Nurse Jackson that he was not due to have any medication. The Plaintiff cooperated while Nurse Jackson opened two suboxone packets and poured the medicine into the Plaintiff's mouth, under his tongue. At that point, the Plaintiff told Nurse Jackson that he was not scheduled to receive any medication, let alone suboxone. Upon learning that she had mistakenly given the Plaintiff the suboxone, Nurse Jackson immediately notified her supervisor, Defendant Head Nurse Zukowska. Nurse Jackson was apologetic to the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff admits that Nurse Jackson “did not mistreat the plaintiff, answered his questions, notified her supervisor of what happened and followed up with the plaintiff later that morning.” The Plaintiff admits that the administration of the suboxone to the wrong inmate was unintentional.

         Upon learning of what had occurred, Nurse Zukowska spoke with the Plaintiff and explained that he had been given suboxone by accident and the protocol that she was required to follow. Consistent with that protocol, she contacted the Health Services Administrator, the custody supervisor, as well as the on-call doctor, Defendant Dr. Naqvi. She also reviewed the Plaintiff's file to check for any known allergies. Nurse Zukowska told Dr. Naqvi what had happened and shared the content of the Plaintiff's medical file with him. Dr. Naqvi determined that the Plaintiff did not need outside medical treatment. Later that same morning, Nurse Zukowska visited the Plaintiff in his housing unit. While speaking with him, she requested to take his vital signs. He refused, telling her he wanted to see a “real doctor.” She advised him that if his vital signs were abnormal, she would take him to the doctor. He refused to have his vital signs taken.

         Although the facts set forth above are largely undisputed, there are numerous allegations contained in the Plaintiff's complaint for which there is competing evidence. Principally, the Plaintiff alleges that after he returned to his cell following the accidental suboxone administration, he became visibly and seriously ill and that he injured his head when he fainted from the side effects. He claims to have repeatedly sought help from the other named defendants, to include officers and supervisors who work on his cell block, to no avail. Admittedly, the Plaintiff was next seen in the medical unit on November 3, 2015. Notwithstanding, he claims the Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. The Defendants deny each of these allegations and have supported the motion for summary judgment with multiple affidavits, prison log books, and other records which refute, they claim conclusively, the Plaintiff's affidavit and other materials submitted by the Plaintiff in opposition to the Defendants' motion.

         Additional facts will be set ...

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