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Brammer v. Northrop

February 23, 2010


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



This is an action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in which Plaintiff, a Prison inmate in the custody of the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS"), alleges that Jill Northrop ("Defendant"), a Nurse Practitioner at Southport Correctional Facility ("Southport"), violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to diagnose or treat him for "shy bladder syndrome." Now before the Court is Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings [#13]. The application is granted.


Plaintiff has "shy bladder syndrome," which he describes as "the inability to urinate while someone is near or when someone is watching." (Amended Complaint [#4]). Plaintiff indicates that he wrote to Defendant about this condition, and she responded that she "never heard of shy bladder syndrome." (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant "failed to perform an examination as to why [he] cannot urinate while others are near and/or watching [him]." (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that if Defendant believed that the problem was psychological in nature, then she should have referred him for mental health counseling. (Id.).*fn1 As a result of his inability to urinate on demand at Southport, Plaintiff apparently was charged and convicted of refusing urinalysis and disobeying a direct order, and received a one-year disciplinary sentence in the Special Housing Unit ("SHU"). (Id.).

Plaintiff indicates that his shy bladder problem has plagued him throughout his incarceration with DOCS. In that regard, he alleges that his procedural due process rights have been violated "at numerous disciplinary hearings," since, as a result of his medical condition, he has been forced to plead guilty to "charges of urinalysis refusal and disobeying a direct order." (Complaint [#1] at 12). Plaintiff states that he has spent approximately ten years in SHU due to the shy bladder problem. (Amended Complaint [#4] at 6; see also, Response [#19] at 10: "[G]rievant has sixteen years of Special Housing Unit time due mostly to urinalysis misbehavior reports." (emphasis added)). Plaintiff attempted to sue other medical providers besides Northrop in this action, but those claims were dismissed as time-barred. (Decision and Order [#5]).

Subsequently, Defendant filed the subject motion for judgment on the pleadings [#13]. Defendant construes the Amended Complaint as asserting three claims: 1) Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to a serious medical need; 2) Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process; and 3) Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process. Defendant maintains that the Amended Complaint fails to state an actionable claim under any of those theories of recovery. In response, Plaintiff states that Defendant was not "thorough" in reviewing his medical file. (Pl. Response [#19] at 2). Plaintiff has also submitted various documentation concerning his efforts to notify DOCS of his condition over the years, as well as medical literature indicating that shy bladder syndrome, or Paruresis, is a social phobia that is recognized by the medical community.


When "deciding a Rule 12(c) motion, we apply the same standard as that applicable to a motion under Rule 12(b)(6)." Burnette v. Carothers , 192 F.3d 52, 56 (1999), cert. denied , 531 U.S. 1052 (2000). In ruling upon a motion to dismiss made pursuant to FRCP 12(b)(6), the Court must construe the complaint liberally, accepting all factual allegations in the complaint as true, and drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Although the pleading standard is a liberal one, bald assertions and conclusions of law will not suffice. To survive dismissal, the plaintiff must provide the grounds upon which her claim rests through factual allegations sufficient to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.

Reddington v. Staten Island Univ. Hosp., 511 F.3d 126, 131 (2d Cir. 2007) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). In that regard, a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction," as well as "a short and plain statement of the claim, showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." FRCP 8(a).

Moreover, since Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court is required to construe his submissions liberally, "to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir.1994).

Plaintiff is suing pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the legal principles applicable to such claims are well settled:

In order to establish individual liability under § 1983, a plaintiff must show (a) that the defendant is a "person" acting "under the color of state law," and (b) that the defendant caused the plaintiff to be deprived of a federal right. See, e.g., Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167, 81 S.Ct. 473, 5 L.Ed.2d 492 (1961). Additionally, "[i]n this Circuit personal involvement of defendants in alleged constitutional deprivations is a ...

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