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Waters v. Bloomberg

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 3, 2019

DEMONTAE WATERS, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. VICKI BLOOMBERG, LT. SAAS & NURSE ANDREA, Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Demontae Waters, a prisoner currently incarcerated at the Bridgeport Correctional Center, has filed a pro se civil rights complaint against Defendants Dr. Vicki Bloomberg, Lt. Saas, and Nurse Andrea presumably for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. Doc. 1 ("Compl.") at 1, 5-7. For the following reasons set forth in this initial review order, the Court will allows his claims to proceed against Dr. Bloomberg and Nurse Andrea.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a prisoner's civil complaint and dismiss any portion that "(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2) (2012). Although highly detailed allegations are not required, the complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).[1] "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The complaint must provide "more than the unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Id. "A pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         "[W]hether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will [ultimately] . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663-64. When "well-pleaded factual allegations" are present, "a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Id. at 679. Factual disputes do not factor into a plausibility analysis under Iqbal and its progeny.

         "Although all allegations contained in the complaint are assumed to be true, this tenet is 'inapplicable to legal conclusions.'" LaMagna v. Brown, 474 Fed.Appx. 788, 789 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). See also Amaker v. New York State Dept. of Corr. Servs., 435 Fed.Appx. 52, 54 (2d Cir. 2011) (same). Accordingly, the Court is not "bound to accept conclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as factual conclusions." Faber v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 648 F.3d 98, 104 (2d Cir. 2011) (quoting Rolon v. Henneman, 517 F.3d 140, 149 (2d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted)). Consequently, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         With respect to pro se litigants, it is well-established that "[p]ro se submissions are reviewed with special solicitude, and 'must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'" Matheson v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Tr. Co., 706 Fed.Appx. 24, 26 (2d Cir. 2017) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006) (per curiam)). See also Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (same); Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants); Boykin v. KeyCorp., 521 F.3d 202, 214 (2d Cir. 2008) ("A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.") (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)); Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant, 537 F.3d 185, 191 (2d Cir. 2008) (declaring that where the plaintiff proceeds pro se, a court is "obliged to construe his pleadings liberally") (quoting McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d Cir. 2004)); Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007) ("In reviewing a pro se complaint, the court must assume the truth of the allegations, and interpret them liberally to "raise the strongest arguments [they] suggest[].").

         Despite being subject to liberal interpretation, a pro se plaintiff's complaint still must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Mancuso v. Hynes, 379 Fed.Appx. 60, 61 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Therefore, even in a pro se case, "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Chavis v. Chappius, 618 F.3d 162, 170 (2d Cir. 2010) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Nor may the Court "invent factual allegations" that the plaintiff has not pleaded. Id.

         II. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

         Plaintiff Demontae Waters currently requires a colostomy bag due to a gunshot wound sustained on May 24, 2018. Compl. at 10-11. He has continually experienced "extreme pain," presumably due to complications regarding his colostomy bag. Compl. ¶¶ 1-3.[2]

         In February 2019, he informed Nurse Andrea and Dr. Vicki Bloomberg of this pain and that he felt this pain on a daily basis. Id. However, he alleges the Defendants ignored his complaints and exacerbated his condition, resulting in "unbearable" pain that increases throughout the day every day. Compl. ¶¶ 4-6. He was sent to St. Vincent's Hospital in March 2019 according to a medical history chart stating that it was an emergency hospital trip for "[l]ower abdominable pain becoming severe." Compl. at 11. He continues to have ongoing lower stomach and back pain. Id. ¶ 15.

         Plaintiff's allegations regarding a reverse colostomy surgery are somewhat unclear, but the Court understands the facts to be as follows: Dr. Bloomberg had confirmed that Plaintiff was scheduled for the surgery to remove his temporary colostomy bag in February 2019, but she has since denied him permission to do the surgery. Id. ¶¶ 8-11. In fact, Plaintiff had even signed releases for Bridgeport Hospital for the surgery. Id. Timeliness of surgery matters because delay makes the surgery harder to do successfully. Id. ¶ 10.

         In addition, Nurse Andrea refused to empty his colostomy bag in February, March, and April, allowing his bag to remain full for three days at a time. Id. ¶¶ 1, 4-10.

         He also alleges that on May 1, 2019, Lt. Saas placed him in the segregation unit for an altercation that Plaintiff claims he was not involved in. Id. ¶ 12. Segregation is "hardly ever cleaned," meaning that it poses a health and safety risk for someone in Plaintiff's condition. Id. ΒΆΒΆ 12-13. The Court infers from this allegation that the segregation unit's unsanitariness ...


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