United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
se plaintiff Steven Sanders, currently incarcerated at
Carl Robinson Correctional Institution in Enfield,
Connecticut, has filed a complaint pursuant 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against defendant Dr. Sharon LaPlante
("Defendant" or "Dr. LaPlante"). Sanders
contends that Dr. LaPlante, now retired, was deliberately
indifferent to his serious medical needs while he was in
pretrial custody. As a result of the alleged violation,
Sanders seeks damages and injunctive relief.
Court now reviews Sanders' Complaint to determine whether
his claims may proceed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the
following reasons, the Complaint is DISMISSED.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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). 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)). "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. This plausibility standard
is not a "probability requirement," but imposes a
standard higher than "a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully." Id.
undertaking this analysis, the Court must "draw all
reasonable inferences in [the plaintiff's] favor, assume
all well-pleaded factual allegations to be true, and
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement
to relief." Faber v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 648
F.3d 98, 104 (2d Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks
omitted). However, the Court is "not bound to accept
conclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as
factual conclusions," id., and "a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do," Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Consequently, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of
a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements,
do not suffice." Id. (citing Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555). Ultimately, "[d]etermining whether a
complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense."
Id. at 679.
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
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) ("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.'" (internal citations omitted)).
This liberal approach, however, does not exempt pro
se litigants from the minimum pleading requirements
described above: a pro se 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) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted), and the Court may not
"invent factual allegations" that the plaintiff has
not pleaded, id.
April 10, 2018, Sanders was seen by Nurse Lisa and Defendant
at Hartford Correctional Center, where he was housed while
awaiting trial. Doc. 1 ("Complaint") at 4. When
Sanders told Defendant his name, she asked whether he was the
inmate complaining about weight loss. Id. Sanders
told her that he had lost weight between June and October
2017. Id. Even though he was eating double portion
trays at all meals and supplementing the meals with food from
the commissary, he had not gained weight. Id.
Defendant was weighing Sanders, he complained of frequent
dizziness and constant urination, especially at night.
Id. Defendant compared Sanders' current weight
with his intake weight from September 2016 and stated that he
had only lost ten pounds. Id. Defendant dismissed
Sanders complaints as "a personal problem."
Id. Sanders told Defendant about his family history
of cancer, heart problems, and diabetes, and requested a
blood test. Id. He also told her that he had been
hospitalized prior to his incarceration for swollen lymph
nodes. Id. Although a biopsy was negative, the
oncologist wanted to keep a close eye on his condition.
Id. Defendant denied Sanders' request for a
blood test, stating that, unless Sanders was diagnosed with
something, the test would waste money and her time.
Id. Defendant told Sanders he seemed
"fine" and dismissed him. Id.
December 2018, Sanders was transferred to MacDougall
Correctional Institution. Id. at 5. At intake, he
weighted 172 lbs. Id. On February 3, 2019,
Sanders saw Nurse Burns and told her about his issues.
Id. She weighed him and noted that he had lost six
pounds, one pound per week. Id. She ordered a blood
test and lab work. Id. On March 3, 2019, Sanders was
diagnosed with diabetes. Id. He was brought to the
Chronic Illness and Disease exam room where a doctor informed
him that his condition was serious and that he needed to
start taking insulin and medication immediately. Id.
Sanders now suffers from astigmatism in both eyes and has
poor eyesight, 20/100. Id. He requires prescription
glasses to see and drive. Id.
contends that Defendant was deliberately indifferent to his
serious medical need. A pretrial detainee's claim of
unconstitutional conditions of confinement - including
deliberate indifference to a detainee's medical needs -
is governed by the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause
rather than the Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment
clause. Darnell v. Piniero, 849 F.3d 17, 29 (2d Cir.
2017); see also Valdiviezo v. Boyer, 752 Fed.Appx.
29, 32-33 (2d Cir. 2018) (Darnell standard applies
to claims for deliberate indifference to serious medical
needs). The Second Circuit explained the rationale for this
distinction in Darnell: "pretrial detainees
have not been convicted of a crime, and thus may not be
punished in any manner - neither cruelly and unusually nor
otherwise." Id. (internal quotation marks and
citation omitted). Nonetheless, a pretrial detainee's
rights under the Fourteenth Amendment are "at least as
great as the Eighth Amendment protections available to a
convicted prisoner." Id.
state a claim for deliberate indifference to serious medical
needs, a pretrial detainee must meet a two-prong test. The
first prong is the same for claims by sentenced prisoners
under the Eighth Amendment and pretrial detainees under the
Fourteenth Amendment. The alleged deprivation of medical care
must be "sufficiently serious." See Salahuddin
v. Goord, 467 F.3d 263, 279 (2d Cir. 2006) (quoting
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994)). The
second prong differs for sentenced inmates and pretrial
detainees. Under the Fourteenth Amendment, the second prong,
also known as the mens rea prong, is defined
objectively. Darnell, 849 F.3d at 35. "[T]he
pretrial detainee must prove that the defendant-official
acted intentionally to impose the alleged condition, or
recklessly failed to act with reasonable care to mitigate the
risk that the condition posed to the pretrial detainee even
though the defendant-official knew, or should have known,