United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
February 25, 2016, Faroulh Dorlette
(“Plaintiff”), currently incarcerated by the
Connecticut Department of Corrections (“DOC”),
sued Johnny Wu and James Smyth (“Defendants”) for
violating his civil rights by failing to order him
prescription eyeglasses.Complaint, dated Feb. 25, 2016
(“Compl.”), ECF No. 1.
August 21, 2017, Mr. Dorlette filed an Amended Complaint.
Amended Complaint, dated Aug. 21, 2017 (“Am.
Compl.”), ECF No. 26. On October 12, 2017, the Court
permitted an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to
medical needs claim against Defendants to proceed. Ruling on
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and Initial Review Order
Re: Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, dated Oct. 12, 2017
(“Ruling and Init. Rev. Order on Am. Compl.”),
ECF No. 30.
21, 2018, Defendants moved for summary judgment on all claims
in the Amended Complaint. Motion for Summary Judgment, dated
May 21, 2018 (“Mot. Summ. J.”), ECF No. 44;
Memorandum of Law in Support of Mot. Summ. J., dated May 21,
2018 (“Defs.' Mem.”), ECF No. 44-1; Local
Rule 56(a)(1) Statement (“Defs.' SMF”), ECF
August 31, 2018, Mr. Dorlette opposed the motion.
Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Mot. Summ.
J., dated Aug. 31, 2018 (“Pl.'s Opp.”), ECF
No. 52; Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement, dated Aug. 31, 2018
(“Pl.'s SMF”), annexed to Pl.'s Opp. at
reasons explained below, Defendants' motion is
GRANTED, and Plaintiff's claims are
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
March 15, 2016, Mr. Dorlette was incarcerated by DOC at the
MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution
(“MacDougall-Walker”). On March 16, 2016, he was
transferred to Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center
(“Corrigan”). Defs.' SMF ¶ 2. He has
been transferred to several other facilities in both Vermont
and Connecticut while this case has been pending,
see ECF Nos. 8, 15, 23, 27 & 35, but remains in
DOC custody at this time.
Smyth is an optometrist employed by Correctional Managed
Health Care (“CMHC”) since 2003. Affidavit of
James Smyth, dated May 21, 2018 (“Smyth Aff.”),
annexed as Ex. G to Defs.' SMF, ECF No. 44-10. He
allegedly worked at four correctional facilities:
MacDougall-Walker, Osborn Correctional Institution, Northern
Correctional Institution, and Enfield Correctional
Institution. Id. ¶ 6.
is a physician and was the Director of Medical Services for
CMHC from June 2012 to March 2017. Affidavit of Johnny Wu,
dated May 21, 2018 (“Wu Aff.”), annexed as Ex. J
to Defs.' SMF, ECF No. 44-13, ¶¶ 2-3.
a division of the University of Connecticut Health Center
that manages a contract to provide medical care to DOC
inmates. Id. ¶ 4.
28, 2015, Mr. Dorlette (then an inmate at MacDougall-Walker)
submitted a written request for an eye exam and prescription
eyeglasses. Defs.' SMF ¶ 4; Pl.'s SMF ¶ 4.
In that request, Mr. Dorlette wrote:
I would like a new eye exam. I am having eye pain and I
believe the pain is a result of not having glasses (my vision
is at least as bad as 20/800 as I am near-sighted; however I
am also experiencing blurry vision and double vision, plus
strain and head-aches when attempting to read and/or write).
I would like to get new glasses. Thank you.
Request, dated Jul. 28, 2015, annexed as Ex. D to Defs.'
SMF (“Defs.' Ex. D”), ECF No. 44-7.
August 5, 2015, Mr. Dorlette was scheduled for an eye exam.
Defs.' SMF ¶ 5; Pl.'s SMF ¶ 5; see
also Defs.' Ex. D (stating “Eye Exam
Scheduled, ” signed and dated 8/5/2015).
August 11, 2015, Mr. Dorlette had his eyes examined by Dr.
Smyth. Defs.' SMF ¶ 1; Pl.'s SMF ¶ 1; Smyth
Aff. ¶ 10. Although he had been prescribed eyeglasses in
the past, Mr. Dorlette arrived at his appointment with Dr.
Smyth without eyeglasses or contact lenses. Defs.' SMF
¶ 6; Pl.'s SMF ¶ 6; Smyth Aff. ¶ 11.
Amended Complaint, Mr. Dorlette alleged: (1) that he informed
Dr. Smyth that his glasses were missing and that DOC staff
were responsible, Am. Compl. ¶ 10; (2) that he informed
Dr. Smyth that he was in “extreme pain in his eyes and
experiencing headaches and difficulty reading, writing, being
mobile, etc., ” id. ¶ 11; (3) that Dr.
Smyth confirmed these were expected symptoms from Mr.
Dorlette not having his glasses, id. ¶ 12; (4)
that Dr. Smyth has been conducting regular eye exams of Mr.
Dorlette since 2005, id. ¶¶ 13-14; (5)
that Dr. Smyth “had identified the plaintiff's
vision as near-sighted and to be 20/800, which is
‘nearly blind, '” id. ¶ 9; (6)
that Dr. Smyth was responsible for ordering him new glasses
but failed to do so, causing him “to suffer for several
months, ” id. ¶ 15; and (7) that Mr.
Dorlette sent Dr. Smyth several requests “expressing
his continued experience of pain (eye and head-aches) and
other disabilities, such as inability to read, write, etc.,
” but that Dr. Smyth failed to act on them, knowingly
allowing Mr. Dorlette to suffer in violation of his Eighth
Amendment rights, id. ¶ 16.
affidavit opposing summary judgment, Mr. Dorlette now states
that he explained to Dr. Smyth that his eyeglasses had been
missing for weeks in connection with an incident at
Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center
(“Corrigan”) in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Affidavit of Faroulh Dorlette, dated Aug. 31, 2018
(“Pl.'s Aff.”), annexed to Pl.'s Opp. at
43, ¶ 5. Mr. Dorlette allegedly told Dr. Smyth that he
had been suffering from double and blurry vision, migraines,
difficulty reading, and sensitivity to light due to the
absence of his eyeglasses. Pl.'s Aff. ¶¶ 5, 10,
12. Mr. Dorlette claims that Dr. Smyth confirmed to him that
these were all symptoms associated with not wearing his
glasses and that once he received the glasses, his headaches
and eye-aches should dissipate. Id. ¶ 12. Mr.
Dorlette further claims Dr. Smyth “shined a light in my
eyes which cause[d] me pain and to flinch and which [Dr.]
Smyth characterized as sensitivity.” Id. Mr.
Dorlette claims that he asked Dr. Smyth to order him the same
style of glasses that he had previously been issued, and that
he also asked him for a copy of his prescription. Pl.'s
Aff. ¶ 15. Mr. Dorlette alleges that Dr. Smyth gave him
that prescription, but did not inform him he would not also
be ordering him a state-issued pair of glasses. Id.
the appointment, Mr. Dorlette claims that he made multiple
inmate requests and administrative grievances regarding the
status of his eyeglasses. Pl.'s Aff. ¶¶ 10, 11,
14, 17; see Pl.'s Exs. 3-8, annexed to Pl.'s
Opp., ECF No. 52, at 52-61. One of these, he claims, was
addressed to Dr. Wu on October 27, 2015. Pl.'s Aff.
dispute these accounts. Dr. Smyth claims that he did not
observe anything abnormal about Mr. Dorlette's eyes that
would have alerted him to pain or anything requiring
immediate action. Smyth Aff. ¶¶ 15, 17. Although
Mr. Dorlette may have experienced difficulty seeing distant
objects, Dr. Smyth did not consider him to be nearly blind,
and Mr. Dorlette could still read information in close
proximity. Id. ¶ 16. He also claims that Mr.
Dorlette “did not complain of pain.” Id.
Smyth contends that he recommended a follow-up appointment in
two years and explained that, under DOC policy, “the
state will not supply eyeglasses if an inmate has asked for
the prescription to have eyeglasses mailed into the
facility” and that Mr. Dorlette would need to
“choose either state issued eyeglasses or eyeglasses
from outside of the facility[.]” Smyth Aff.
¶¶ 19, 24. He says Mr. Dorlette elected to obtain
his glasses from outside DOC using the written prescription
Dr. Smyth gave him; as a result, he “did not have him
select an eyeglass frame or fit him for eyeglasses provided
by” DOC. Smyth Aff. ¶ 34.
Smyth allegedly wrote down giving Mr. Dorlette the
prescription. Smyth Aff. ¶ 25. Those notes do not
indicate any report of eye pain or other symptoms, but simply
include the results of the eye exam and state that “Rx
given to inmate for personal glasses.” See Ex.
A to Defs.' SMF, filed Feb. 26, 2019 (“Medical
Records”), ECF No. 54, at 084. They also do not
indicate that Mr. Dorlette selected any frame, or that any
order was placed. Id.
Smyth claims that, following the appointment, no one ever
contacted him about Mr. Dorlette's prescription. Smyth
Aff. ¶¶ 27-28. He claims not to have handled inmate
request forms personally; instead, the nursing staff
processed the forms and placed inmates on the sick call list.
Id. ¶ 33.
the other Defendant in this case, allegedly never examined
Mr. Dorlette. Defs.' SMF ¶ 38; Pl.'s SMF ¶
28. He allegedly has no knowledge of any issues regarding the
ordering or delivery of Mr. Dorlette's eyeglasses, and
allegedly never received any correspondence from Mr. Dorlette
regarding any medical issues. Wu Aff. ¶¶ 10-14.
Lightner, a Registered Nurse and the Health Services
Administrator at MacDougall-Walker-and ultimate custodian of
medical records there-states that there is no record of any
Inmate Requests or Health Services Reviews concerning Mr.
Dorlette's eyeglasses prescription or vision problems
after July 28, 2015. Affidavit of Rikel Lightner, dated May
21, 2018 (“Lightner Aff.”), annexed as Ex. B to
Defs.' SMF, ¶¶ 24-26; see also
Defs.' Ex. D; Inmate Requests, annexed as Ex. E to
Defs.' SMF (“Defs.' Ex. E”), ECF No.
March 16, 2016, Mr. Dorlette was transferred to Corrigan.
Defs.' SMF ¶ 2.
April 12, 2016, Mr. Dorlette submitted an Inmate Request
stating that he had been “writing follow-up requests
regarding the ordering of state glasses” and
requesting: (1) that glasses be made and sent to him; and (2)
that he be scheduled to speak with an eye surgeon to
determine whether he was a candidate for eye surgery. Inmate
Request Form, dated Apr. 12, 2016, annexed as Ex. 8 to
Pl.'s Opp., ECF No. 52, at 61. In that form, he stated
that his eyes were “noticeably straining and causing me
migraines and other pains including obstruction and or
interference with reading ...