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Carter v. Devito

March 7, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny United States District Judge



In this action, pro se Plaintiff Pleasant Carter alleges pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by denying him adequate medical treatment while he was an inmate in the custody of the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS"). Presently before this Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.*fn1 This Court has reviewed and considered the motion papers and finds that oral argument is unnecessary. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is granted in its entirety.


A. Procedural History

Plaintiff's Complaint was entered on the docket on January 30, 2002. Because Plaintiff was granted in forma pauperis status, his Complaint and subsequent Amended Complaints were screened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(a). As a result of this screening process, it was determined that only Plaintiff's claim that he was denied medical care was actionable. Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint asserting this claim on July 2, 2003. Defendants' filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment on June 29, 2005. The facts underlying Plaintiff's claim are discussed below.

B. Facts

At all times relevant, Plaintiff was an inmate in the custody of the DOCS residing at the Wende Correctional Facility ("Wende"). (Defendants' Rule 56 Statement of Undisputed Facts ("Defendants' Statement"), ¶ 11.) He was transferred to Wende on March 24, 2000, and remained at Wende in the Special Housing Unit ("SHU") until February 28, 2002. (Defendants' Statement, ¶ 11.) Defendants Anthony DeVito, Patrick Warren, G. Monahan, David Post, James L. Stone, Harold E. Smith and Glenn S. Goord were at all times relevant employed by DOCS in various capacities. (Defendants' Statement, ¶¶ 4-10.)

1. Plaintiff's Mental Health Treatment at Wende

Upon entering Wende, Plaintiff had a diagnosis of psychotic disorder not otherwise specified. (Defendants' Statement, ¶ 12.) Plaintiff was therefore provided services through the New York State Office of Mental Health ("OMH"). (Defendants' Statement, ¶ 12.) In particular, Plaintiff was evaluated on March 24, 2000, within 24 hours of his admission to the Wende SHU. (DeVito Decl., ¶ 6.) The examining psychologist, Enrique Herryman, found that Plaintiff was mentally stable and was experiencing no unusual symptoms. (DeVito Decl., ¶ 6.)

On March 27, 2000, three days after Plaintiff entered Wende, he was seen by Defendant Warren, who is a psychologist with the OMH. (Defendants' Statement, ¶¶ 7, 15.) Defendant Warren found that Plaintiff's mental status was clear, that there was no indication of a thought disorder, that Plaintiff did not appear to be experiencing auditory hallucinations, and that Plaintiff was calm, composed and cooperative. (Warren Decl., ¶ 5.) Defendant Warren concluded that Plaintiff exhibited no psychiatric symptoms. (Warren Decl., ¶ 5.)

As a result of his examination, Defendant Warren continued the course of treatment that had been developed when Plaintiff was housed at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility, which included receiving psychotropic medication prescribed by the treating psychiatrist and verbal psychotherapy to address Plaintiff's reports of depression and aggressive behavior. (Warren Decl., ¶¶ 6, 7.) In addition, Plaintiff was seen by OMH staff during daily rounds in the SHU. (Warren Decl., ¶ 7.) During the rounds, Plaintiff was observed by the staff and was given the opportunity to discuss his problems and possible alternative behaviors. (Warren Decl., ¶ 7.) This contact with Plaintiff was documented in Plaintiff's progress notes on at least a monthly basis. (Warren Decl., ¶ 7; DeVito Decl., Ex. A.*fn2

Plaintiff was also seen twice daily by mental health nurses who distributed medication. (Warren Decl., ¶ 8.)

On March 25, 2000, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Jeffery Grace, the staff psychiatrist. (Warren Decl., ¶ 9.) Dr. Grace reported that Plaintiff was not demonstrating significant emotion, was oriented, and was exhibiting fair insight and judgment. (Warren Decl., ¶ 9.) Dr. Grace did not note any major distress or psychiatric symptoms. (Warren Decl., ¶ 9.) As a result, Dr. Grace continued Plaintiff's medications and course of treatment. (Warren Decl., ¶ 9.) Plaintiff was scheduled to see Dr. Grace again on April 29, 2000, but Plaintiff refused to attend the appointment. (Warren Decl., ¶ 10.)

On May 10, 2000, Plaintiff was transferred to the Central New York Psychiatric Center for a court-ordered evaluation in connection with pending assault charges. (Warren Decl., ¶ 11, DeVito Decl., ¶ 14.) Specifically, Plaintiff was being evaluated to determine whether he was competent to stand trial. (DeVito Decl., ¶ 14.) Two psychiatrists found Plaintiff mentally competent. (DeVito Decl., ¶ 14.) Plaintiff returned to Wende on August 26, 2000. (Warren Decl., ¶ 11.)

On the day of his return, Plaintiff was seen by both Defendant Warren and Dr. Grace. (Warren Decl., ¶¶ 12, 13.) Defendant Warren noted that Plaintiff exhibited no serious mental health issues that required immediate care or a change in treatment. (Warren Decl., ¶ 12.) Similarly, Dr. Grace noted no major distress or psychiatric symptoms. (Warren Decl., ¶ 13.)

On August 30, 2000, Plaintiff was transferred out of Wende for a court proceeding and did not return until October 11, 2000. (Warren Decl., ¶ 14.) On the day of his return, Plaintiff was seen by Enrique Herryman, who found Plaintiff to be calm and in no acute distress. (Warren Decl., ¶ 14.) Plaintiff was scheduled to see Dr. Grace on October 14, 2000, but he refused the call-out. (Warren Decl., ¶ 15.)

Plaintiff was again transferred out of Wende on October 19, 2000, until December 11, 2000, for a court proceeding. (Warren Decl., ¶ 16.) Upon his return, Plaintiff was assessed by Defendant Warren, who detected no serious psychiatric symptoms or distress. (Warren Decl., ¶ 17.) Plaintiff was thereafter seen regularly by OMH staff for assessment and treatment purposes. (Warren Decl., ¶ 18.)

On February 28, 2002, Plaintiff was transferred to the Special Treatment Program ("STP") at the Five Points Correctional Facility based on a referral from Plaintiff's treatment team at Wende. (Warren Decl., ¶ 19.) Plaintiff was transferred there because the STP program provided more intensive mental health services to long term inmates housed in the SHU. (Warren Decl., ¶ 19.)

2. Plaintiff's "Time Cut" Request and the Intermediate Care Program

On May 3, 2001, Plaintiff made a request to Defendant Monahan for a "time cut" from the SHU. Plaintiff requested that his SHU time be reduced based on his exemplary behavior. (Monahan Decl., ¶ 1; Monahan Decl., Exhibit A*fn3 .) Plaintiff did not complain that his mental health status was being ignored or required transfer out of the SHU. (Monahan Decl., Exhibit A.) On May 17, 2001, Defendant Monahan denied Plaintiff's request, noting that Plaintiff had received a misbehavior report on May 15, 2001. (Monahan Decl., ¶ 5; Monahan Decl., Exhibit B*fn4 .) On November 26, 2001, Plaintiff again requested ...

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