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Bruno v. Wright

November 26, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: David N. Hurd United States District Judge



A. Allegations Contained in the Complaint

In the complaint, plaintiff names three defendants, Lester Wright ("Dr. Wright"), Fredderick Grabow ("Dr. Grabow"), and Subbarao Ramineni ("Dr. Ramineni"). (Dkt. No. 1). Dr. Wright is alleged to be the Chief Medical Officer for the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS"). Dr. Grabow is alleged to be a physician employed by DOCS at Camp Georgetown; and Dr. Ramineni is alleged to be a physician employed by DOCS at Mid-State Correctional Facility ("Mid-State").

Plaintiff alleges that on November 16, 2003 he suffered chest pains at approximately four o'clock in the afternoon. Upon being informed, Dr. Grabow ordered the plaintiff to be taken from Camp Georgetown to Chenango Memorial Hospital ("CMH"), where he arrived at approximately 5:30 PM. Once at CMH, a Dr. Brereton admitted plaintiff for tests and observation. The tests conducted on November 17, and 18, 2003, resulted in a recommendation that plaintiff undergo cardiac catheterization. However, CMH did not perform that procedure. Plaintiff was advised that he would be returned to the infirmary at Mid-State until the procedure could be scheduled at another hospital. Plaintiff alleges he returned to Mid-state on November 19, 2003.*fn1

At Mid-state plaintiff was kept in the infirmary under the care of Dr. Ramineni. Plaintiff inquired on a weekly basis when the procedure was going to be performed. He alleges that he received different responses including that the doctor was awaiting approvals from various sources, and scheduling delays that were caused by the December holidays. On January 6, 2004, plaintiff was transferred to St. Elizabeth Medical Center ("SEMC") and underwent a catheterization. As a result of the findings of the catheterization, plaintiff underwent an angioplasty and three stents were inserted. Approximately two hours later plaintiff suffered severe chest pain, and had an abnormal EKG. On January 7, 2004, plaintiff alleges that a Dr. Gaffney informed him that he had suffered a myocardial infarction.*fn2

Plaintiff was released from DOCS custody on January 14, 2004. While under the care of physicians in Sullivan County he was admitted to a hospital on December 7, 2004, due to chest pain. Plaintiff alleges that he underwent another cardiac catheterization which revealed that his right coronary artery was completely closed. Plaintiff alleges that the delay in treatment between November 19, 2003, and January 6, 2004, caused him to suffer additional damage to his heart; the subsequent myocardial infarction after his angioplasty; and the continuing health issues he experienced in December 2004.

Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Wright failed to establish appropriate policies for his subordinates to follow in cases of serious medical conditions. Further, plaintiff alleges that Dr. Wright was deliberately indifferent because he failed to arrange for immediate treatment of his condition.

Plaintiff further alleges that Dr. Grabow was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs because he had "the ultimate authority to arrange for plaintiff to receive his treatment." (Dkt. No. 1, page 10). Further, plaintiff alleges that Dr. Grabow was deliberately indifferent because he could have arranged for plaintiff to go directly to SEMC or another hospital for immediate treatment.

Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Ramineni was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs because he "failed to act to get plaintiff to the hospital so plaintiff could get the treatment that was ordered . . . ," and that "[a]s a result of the failure to get plaintiff the immediate medical care that was warrented (sic) for this type of medical condition plaintiff was delayed treatment for 48 days." Id., page 11.

B. Procedural History

Defendants answered the complaint on January 5, 2007. (Dkt. No. 13). On March 19, 2008, the defendants moved for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 29). Plaintiff responded to the motion (Dkt. No. 32) and defendants filed a reply. (Dkt. No. 35). The motion was taken on submission without oral argument.

C. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

In their motion for summary judgment defendants assert that neither defendant Dr. Wright nor Dr. Grabow had personal involvement in the underlying events sufficient to establish any claim against them. Further, defendants argue that plaintiff did not suffer from a serious medical condition or serious medical need; that plaintiff's complaint merely asserts a disagreement with defendants as to the proper treatment; that plaintiff's treatment was not delayed or otherwise inappropriate for his condition; and that all of the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity.

Plaintiff argues that his condition was serious, and that the delay of 48 days between the time he was transferred to Mid-State and the time he had the cardiac catheterization caused his condition to deteriorate, and to become more serious and irreparable. Plaintiff points to records that indicate that a catheterization will be scheduled within two days as an indicia of the urgency of his medical condition and of Dr. Ramineni's deliberate indifference. Plaintiff also argues that Dr. Wright's policy of requiring the cardiac consult unconstitutionally delayed his access to necessary health care services recommended by the CMH physician. Plaintiff argues that Dr. Grabow ignored CMH recommendations and wrongfully transferred plaintiff's care to Dr. Ramineni instead of arranging for the immediate implementation of the CMH recommendations.


Because the defendants have moved for summary judgment, the following material facts are portrayed in a light most favorable to plaintiff.

On November 16, 2003, plaintiff was sent to CMH, from Camp Georgetown, due to complaints of chest pain. (Dkt. No. 32). Defendants' Statement of Material Facts, ¶ 4. While at CMH, plaintiff underwent laboratory tests, a chest X-ray, an EKG, and an exercise Cardiolite stress test. (Dkt. No. 1, CMH Discharge Summary dated Nov. 19, 2003). The nuclear portion of the stress test showed "reversible inferior, posterior apical ischemia," and the discharge summary further noted:

His nuclear portion, however, preliminary, shows reversible inferior, posterior apical ischemia. There may be a fixed defect at the apex, but it is less clear. There may be some partially fixed defect in the inferior wall. Subsequently, it was felt that the patient needed to proceed to cardiac catheterization. This situation was discussed with Dr. Grabow who is a physician for the Camp Georgetown Facility and with Dr. Ramineni who is the physician at the Mid-State Correctional Infirmary and we felt that the ...

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