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Pierre v. County of Broome

February 23, 2007

KATHY PIERRE, PLAINTIFF.
v.
COUNTY OF BROOME, DAVID HARDER, BROOME COUNTY SHERIFF, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY, CORRECTIONAL MEDICAL SERVICES, INC., MAHMOUD BUTT, M.D., AND JOHN AND JANE DOES, CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS AND MEDICAL PERSONNEL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas J. McAVOY Senior United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

Plaintiff commenced this action against Defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging various civil rights violations.Plaintiff alleges that she did not receive adequate medical attention while she was an inmate at the Broome County Correctional Facility. Plaintiff, an African-American woman who is suffering from AIDS, charges that she did not receive necessary, life-sustaining medication, even after repeated requests to the prison's medical staff. Currently before the court are Defendants' motions for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 seeking dismissal of the Complaint in its entirety.

I. FACTS

Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Broome County Correctional Facility on October 16, 2004. She is currently incarcerated at the Beacon Correctional Facility. Hearing Transcript ("HT") at 7*fn1 . Plaintiff has AIDS. Before entering the facility, Plaintiff was prescribed a variety of prescription drugs, known as the "AIDS Cocktail." The composition of the cocktail changed over time. Plaintiff also was on medication for high blood pressure and asthma. HT at 8. Plaintiff testified that upon her arrival at the facility and thereafter, she was not given the proper AIDS medication. HT at 8. On October 20, 2004, she spoke to a doctor at the prison, Dr. Butt, and explained her condition, which medications she was taking, and which pharmacies had previously filled her prescriptions. HT at 9. Plaintiff spoke to her attorney about the situation and signed up for sick call, where she spoke with a nurse. HT at 9. When Plaintiff complained to the nurse about not receiving medication, the nurse said that it was not their fault Plaintiff had AIDS and there was nothing she [the nurse] could do about it. HT at 14.

Beginning in October 2004, the staff at the prison requested Plaintiff's medical and prescription records from her doctor and several pharmacies that had previously filled prescriptions for Plaintiff. These requests were not immediately fulfilled. The prison staff did not receive the necessary records until January 2005. Defendants claim that Plaintiff did not exhibit any symptoms of the illness during this time. In December 2004, a blood test revealed that Plaintiff's T-cell count had dropped. At this time, prison medical staff gave her medication based on what little information they had from the doctor and pharmacies.

Plaintiff testified that she first tried to file a written grievance concerning the medical care and medication in approximately the middle of November 2004. She asked a unit officer if she could speak to the grievance officer, explaining that she was not receiving proper medication. Plaintiff testified that she spoke with William Kramer, the grievance sergeant, on three separate occasions.

Plaintiff testified that she first spoke to Kramer regarding a grievance in November 2004. Plaintiff testified that at this time, Kramer told her that there was no need to file a grievance because the prison administration had been made aware of the situation by Plaintiff's criminal attorney. HT at 50. However, Plaintiff also testified that Kramer gave her a piece of paper so that she could explain her complaints. HT at 11. Plaintiff wrote on that paper that she was not receiving necessary medication. HR at 13. She handed the grievance back to Kramer, who told her he would get back to her. Plaintiff never received a response.

Plaintiff's second conversation with Kramer took place in December 2004. HT at 50. Plaintiff testified that she again complained about not receiving any medication. She also complained about being ridiculed by staff and other inmates. It appears that no action was taken as a result of this conversation.

Plaintiff's third conversation with Kramer took place in January 2005 when she complained about her work assignments being in the morning. On this issue, Plaintiff claims that she attempted to comply with the grievance process by first complaining to her supervisor, a woman named Marie. Plaintiff explained that she often felt very weak in the morning and would rather be assigned to afternoon work. Plaintiff claims that Marie told her she would be sent to the segregation unit if she did not do her assignments in the morning. HT at 52. When Plaintiff spoke to the grievance officer about her work assignment, he told her if the Lieutenant ordered her to work in the mornings, then there was nothing anybody could do about it. HT at 51.

When questioned by defense counsel, Plaintiff conceded that she did not actually sign a paper as a result of any conversation with the grievance officer. HT at 18. Instead, according to a July 13, 2006 deposition, she told him that she was not receiving adequate medical care and he wrote her complaint down in his "blue pad". HT at 18. Plaintiff explained that the grievance officer said he would get back to her, but never did.

In Plaintiff's responses to Defendant's interrogatories, there is no mention of a written grievance being filed. Instead, it simply says that various attorneys and AIDS advocates voiced their concerns about Plaintiff's well-being to the facility and the sheriff's office. HT at 22. Plaintiff testified that she did file a written grievance and that the discovery documents were incorrect and she mistakenly signed the verification of these documents. HT at 22.

The defense solicited testimony from the grievance officer, Kramer, who testified that Plaintiff did not file any written grievance. HT at 31. When questioned by Plaintiff's counsel, Kramer explained that he was familiar with the Plaintiff and had spoken with her before. However, he only remembered her complaining to him about being assigned work in the mornings and wanted to switch to afternoon detail. Although aware that Plaintiff had a complaint, Kramer testified that she did not specifically say she wanted to file a written grievance, even though he was the person with which to file a grievance. Instead, he advised her to speak with the doctor about the work assignment. HT at 38.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment will be granted when there is no genuine material issue of fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a mater of law. Fed .R. Civ .P. 56(c). The court must consider the evidence ...


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