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WILLIAMS v. KOENIGSMANN

May 9, 2005.

ANTHONY WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. CARL KOENIGSMANN, Individually, DR. STAN DASHAWETZ,[fn1] Individually, WILLIAM PHILLIPS, Superintendent, Individually, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, District Judge

*fn1 Sued incorrectly herein as "Dr. Stan Dashawetz." Nurse practitioner Stanley Dashawetz was dismissed from this lawsuit in an Opinion and Order dated February 17, 2004, granting in part and denying in part defendants' motion to dismiss.

OPINION AND ORDER

  Anthony Williams, proceeding pro se, brings suit under section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code ("section 1983") alleging that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. In particular, plaintiff claims that Dr. Koenigsmann and Superintendent Phillips were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs because his pain medication was reduced while he was in the Special Housing Unit ("SHU") and his treatment at an outside pain management clinic was temporarily interrupted. Defendants now move for summary judgment dismissing the Complaint on a number of grounds including: (1) failure to exhaust administrative remedies; (2) failure to demonstrate any personal involvement of defendants in the alleged constitutional violations; and (3) inability to prove that defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. For the following reasons, defendants' motion is granted and this case is dismissed.

  I. FACTS*fn2

  A. Plaintiff's Injuries

  Plaintiff has been in the custody of the Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS") since January 31, 1999, and, at all times relevant, was incarcerated at the Green Haven Correctional Facility. See Defendants' Statement of Material Facts Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 56.1 ("Def. 56.1") ¶¶ 1-2. In August 1995, plaintiff was shot twice in the head which resulted in a year-long coma. See id. ¶ 3. Plaintiff claims that bullet fragments remain lodged inside his brain, causing him to suffer severe headaches and other pain. See id. ¶ 4. On May 19, 2002, plaintiff was assaulted by another inmate at Green Haven who struck him in the base of his head and rendered him unconscious. See id. ¶¶ 5-6. Plaintiff claims that this injury exacerbated the pain he was already suffering. See id. ¶ 7.

  B. Medical Treatment

  Beginning in June 2002, plaintiff was put on a trial of several different pain medications by Green Haven medical personnel to determine the medications that were the most efficacious for him. See id. ¶ 8. These medications included Midrin, Imitrex, Naprosyn, Percogesic, Neurontin, Tegretol, Zanaflex, Verapamil and Depakote. See id. ¶ 9. During this period, plaintiff was offered the opportunity to be treated with a Duragesic patch, but he refused.*fn3 See id. ¶ 10. After sampling the above medications, Ultram was chosen for plaintiff's pain management. See id. ¶ 11. Plaintiff was initially started at a 50 milligram dose of Ultram twice a day which gradually rose to a 100 milligram dose three times a day. See id. ¶ 12. Plaintiff had been receiving 100 milligrams of Ultram three times a day for approximately three weeks before being sent to the SHU. See id. ¶ 13.

  Green Haven's medical personnel also allowed plaintiff to receive treatment at the St. Agnes Hospital pain management clinic operated by Dr. Lawrence J. Epstein. See id. ¶ 14. At the clinic, plaintiff received occipital nerve block injections to the base of his skull which provided him with some relief for a period of time after each injection. See id. ¶ 15. Plaintiff received two injection treatments, one in January and the other in February 2003. See id. ¶ 16. In March 2003, plaintiff was told his visits to the clinic had been cancelled due to lack of funds. See id. ¶ 27. Actually, the clinic refused to treat DOCS inmates because a dispute arose concerning the manner in which DOCS reimbursed the clinic for inmate treatment. See id. ¶ 29. Neither Dr. Koenigsman nor Superintendent Phillips were involved in handling this dispute. See id. ¶ 30. DOCS made its best efforts to retain the services of a new pain management clinic and by October 2003, plaintiff began receiving nerve block injections at a new clinic. See id. ¶¶ 31-32. Neither defendant had any control over the retention of this new pain management clinic. See id. ¶ 33. Plaintiff claims that the interruption of his nerve block injection treatment caused him to suffer additional pain. See id. ¶ 35. C. Special Housing Unit

  In February 2003, plaintiff was placed in the SHU at Green Haven due to a positive drug test result. See id. ¶ 17. Upon being placed in the SHU, plaintiff's Ultram medication was reduced from three 100 milligram doses a day to two 100 milligram doses a day. See id. ¶ 18. The reduction was based on security protocol in the SHU that only allowed medical personnel to dispense medication to inmates twice a day due to the need for a security escort. See id. ¶ 19. Providing plaintiff with two 150 milligram doses a day would not have been optimal as it exceeds the maximum single dose suggested by Ultram's manufacturer and, as a result, could cause unwanted side effects. See id. ¶ 21.*fn4 When plaintiff was released from the SHU in July 2003, he again received 100 milligrams of Ultram three times a day. See id. ¶ 25.

  D. Plaintiff's Grievances

  Plaintiff complained about the reduction in his medication to Nurse Dashewetz and on March 6, 2003, filed a grievance (number GH-50932-03). This grievance was decided on April 15, 2003 by Acting First Deputy Superintendent Delores Thornton who determined that the reduction in plaintiff's medication was based on medical necessity. See id. ¶ 22. Plaintiff did not write to Superintendent Phillips or Dr. Koenigsmann about this issue when the grievance was being addressed. See id. ¶ 23. Plaintiff appealed the decision denying his request for increased medication to the DOCS' Central Office Review Committee ("CORC") which upheld the decision on May 22, 2003. See id. ¶¶ 23-24.

  On May 12, 2003 plaintiff filed another grievance (number GH-51316-03) regarding the interruption in his clinic treatment. See id. ¶ 36. The grievance was denied by Superintendent Phillips on August 15, 2003. See id. ¶ 37. Plaintiff ...


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