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Suarez v. Keiser

March 2, 2006

GUARIONEX SUAREZ, 86A3059, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DR. KEISER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles J. Siragusa United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

This is an action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in which a prison inmate alleges that prison medical staff were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Now before the Court is a motion [#8] brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss all claims against defendants Thomas M. Poole ("Poole"), the Superintendent of Five Points Correctional Facility ("Five Points"), and Lester N. Wright, M.D. ("Wright"), a Deputy Commissioner and Chief Medical Officer of the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS"). For the reasons that follow, the application is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, a prison inmate, suffers from a painful vascular condition in his left leg. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint [#6] describes how prison medical staff prescribed him various pain medications and sent him to numerous outside hospitals for treatment. Nonetheless, plaintiff alleges that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs on many occasions by denying him treatment. For example, he contends that defendants refused to provide him with the pain medication Ultram and with nerve-blocking injections even though both were recommended by a vascular specialist. In addition to suing the individual medical providers who dealt with him on a daily basis, plaintiff has also sued Poole and Wright, on the theory that they became personally involved in the alleged constitutional violation by failing to remedy the situation after he notified them about it through letters.

The Alleged Involvement by Poole

Plaintiff wrote to Poole concerning his medical situation on at least four occasions, June 3, 2002, October 12, 2002, December 7, 2004, and December 12, 2004. In his June 3, 2002 letter, plaintiff complained that the doctor at Five Points, Dr. Dobies, was being "deliberately indifferent" to him because he refused to provide him with a wheelchair and denied his request to be fed in his cell. Plaintiff further stated: "I am in pain and suffer for long time. I also have been request [sic] to the medical department my medical need but they are deliberately indifferent. Therefore I am writing to you because I really need medical attention with my left leg and also the [cold] weather is affecting me." (Pl. Response [#14)

In his letter to Poole dated October 12, 2002, plaintiff stated that he was in pain, due to poor circulation in his left leg, and that the medical staff was "ignoring all his requests." Plaintiff stated that he had not received pain medication or seen a doctor since July 2002. Plaintiff asked Poole to contact the medical department and request that he be given Ultram and a nerve block injection.

In his letter to Poole dated December 7, 2004, plaintiff complained that he had wanted to go to Albany to receive an injection from Dr. Chang, but instead he had been sent to a hospital in Syracuse, where the doctor apparently indicated that plaintiff should receive Ultram and a nerve block injection. Plaintiff told Poole that he was in pain and that he wanted Ultram and a "pain injection".

In his letter to Poole dated December 12, 2004, plaintiff complained that medical staff were "abusing" him mentally and physically. Plaintiff was upset because a facility physician, Dr. Gregoire, told plaintiff that he, and not Dr. Chang, would give plaintiff a nerve block injection. In that regard, plaintiff apparently believed that Dr. Gregoire did not have the expertise to administer the injection. Plaintiff also stated that Dr. Gregoire was refusing to give him Ultram. There is no indication in the complaint that Poole responded to any of plaintiff's letters.

In his Amended Complaint, plaintiff made the following allegation concerning Poole: "Since 2002 plaintiff have been bringing to the attention of Defendant Thomas M. Poole, all concernient [sic] to this matter, but Defendant Thomas M. Poole in 2004 do not help the plaintiff Suarez with plaintiff Suarez's medical need." (Amended Complaint p. 5-B)

The Alleged Involvement by Wright

Dr. Wright did not personally provide or refuse to provide any medical treatment to plaintiff. However, plaintiff wrote at least eight letters to Wright between 2002 and 2004. On July 17, 2002, plaintiff complained that staff at Five Points had discontinued his Ultram and were refusing to allow him to see Dr. Chang in Albany. Plaintiff also stated that there was no doctor working at Five Points at that time. On August 20, 2002, Wright responded that plaintiff was scheduled to be seen in "the Pain Management Clinic". Wright also stated that plaintiff should address any other concerns to the health care staff at Five Points.

On August 22, 2002, plaintiff wrote to Wright, again stating that he wished to see Dr. Chang in Albany. Plaintiff stated that the medical staff at Five Points refused to provide him with Ultram or a nerve block injection, and had taken away his walking cane. Plaintiff wrote to Wright again on September 23, 2002, stating that he had not been seen by a doctor at Five Points since July 2002 (though he had been seen by a specialist in Syracuse in August 2002). Plaintiff stated that he was not receiving Ultram, but was receiving another pain-killer, Neurontin. However, he stated that ...


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