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Blaine v. Burnes

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 15, 2019

J. BURNES, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Jayevon Blaine (“Blaine”), incarcerated at the Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut, filed this case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He contends that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs by denying and delaying surgery to address gynecomastia, growth of female breast tissue caused by Risperdal, and by failing to warn him and his physician about this side-effect. Blaine seeks damages and injunctive relief.

         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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This requirement applies to all prisoner filings regardless whether the prisoner pays the filing fee. Nicholson v. Lenczewski, 356 F.Supp.2d 157, 159 (D. Conn. 2005) (citing Carr v. Dvorin, 171 F.3d 115 (2d Cir. 1999) (per curiam)). Here, the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis.

         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 plausible 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.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when a plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The Court must construe pro se pleadings liberally, Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009), and interpret them to raise the “strongest arguments that they suggest.” Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 472 (2d Cir. 2006). To plead a cognizable legal claim, however, a pro se plaintiff must meet the standard of facial plausibility. See Hogan v. Fischer, 738 F.3d 509, 515 (2d Cir. 2013) (“[A] pro se complaint must state a plausible claim for relief.”) (citing Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 73 (2d Cir. 2009)).

         I. Allegations

         Commissioner Semple contracted with the University of Connecticut Correctional Managed Health Care (“CMHC”) to provide health care to Connecticut inmates. The contract, no longer in effect, provided no oversight for CMHC staff and no accountability for the $100, 000, 000 yearly fee. ECF No. 1, ¶ 11. Under the contract, the Department of Correction assumed all liability for lawsuits against CMHC employees. Id. After increasing concern over medical treatment afforded to Connecticut inmates, including several inmate deaths, the contract was terminated. Id. In July 2017, the Department of Correction re-assumed responsibility for inmate health services. Id.

         Jannssen Pharmaceuticals, as the maker of Risperdal, is responsible for providing warnings and packaging for the product. Id., ¶ 12. The packaging on Risperdal provided to inmates contains no patient information or warnings. Id.

         Defendant Burnes prescribed Risperdal to Blaine to treat ADHD, anger, anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder from September 8, 2015, through February 5, 2016, while he was confined at Garner Correctional Institution. Id., ¶ 13. Defendant Burnes never warned Blaine of the risks and benefits of Risperdal. Id.

         About July 5, 2018, Blaine noticed changes to his chest. Id., ¶ 14. He informed medical and mental health staff. Id. Blaine was diagnosed as suffering from gynecomastia and is awaiting surgery. Id.

         II. Analysis

         Blaine names six defendants, APRN J. Burnes, former Commissioner Scott Semple, Commissioner Rollin Cook, Jannssen Pharmaceuticals, and Jannssen Pharmaceuticals employees Michelle Bufano, John Winter, and Elizabeth Laxto Smithhart. Blaine states that he has named defendant Burnes in his or her individual and official capacity. He does not indicate the capacity in which he names any other defendant.

         Blaine does not indicate whether he was a pretrial detainee or a sentenced inmate at the time of the incident underlying the complaint. The Court may take judicial notice of state court records. See Mangiafico v. Blumenthal, 471 F.3d 391, 398 (2d Cir.2006) (“docket sheets are public records of which the court could take judicial notice”); Shmueli v. City of New York, 424 F.3d 231, 233 (2d Cir. 2005) (court may take judicial notice of matters of public records, such as state prosecution of an individual). The Connecticut Judicial Branch website shows that, on February 21, 2014, Blaine was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of fifteen years for a 2012 charge of conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree with a deadly weapon. See Case No. FBT-CR-12-0269040-T (Conn. Super. Ct.), (last visited Feb. 25, 2019). Thus, Blaine was a sentenced inmate during the time relevant to this action.

         Blaine alleges that all defendants disregarded an excessive risk to his health and subjected him to gynecomastia by failing to provide patient information about Risperdal, id., ¶ 16; defendant Semple failed to provide proper mental health care by failing to oversee CMHC, id., ¶ 17; defendant Jannssen Pharmaceuticals violated his constitutional rights by failing to provide adequate patient information regarding side-effects on packaging provided to prisoners, id., ¶ 18; the defendants failed to implement procedures to ensure conformity with acceptable professional and community standards regarding provision of medication within correctional facilities, id., ¶ 18;[1] and the defendants denied Blaine proper medical care by failing to provide immediate surgery, id., ¶ 19.

         A. Defendants Jannssen Pharmaceuticals, Bufano, ...

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