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Sonberg v. Niagara County Jail Medical Dep't Head

July 30, 2010

NORMAN SONBERG, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NIAGARA COUNTY JAIL MEDICAL DEPARTMENT HEAD, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: H. Kenneth Schroeder, Jr. United States Magistrate Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

This case was referred to the undersigned by the Hon. William M. Skretny, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), for all pretrial matters. Dkt. #15.

Plaintiff filed this pro se action on or about May 19, 2008 seeking relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Dkt. #1. Since that time, plaintiff has filed an Amended Complaint (Dkt. #21) and a Second Amended Complaint (Dkt. #52). Simply stated, in his Second Amended Complaint, plaintiff alleges that while housed in the Niagara County Jail, defendants, the Niagara County Jail, the Niagara County Jail Medical Department and the individual defendants, were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical and psychological needs. Dkt. #52. Presently pending before this Court is a motion by defendants James Hohensee, M.D. and Christopher M. Aikin, N.P. to preclude plaintiff from offering proof at trial as to "any matters contained in defendants' unanswered or incompletely answered interrogatories, unanswered document demands or from presenting any medical proof on the issue of liability or damages." Dkt. #48.

Alternatively, defendants seek an Order compelling plaintiff to answer unanswered or incompletely answered demands (document demands and interrogatories) and to provide properly executed medical authorizations. Id. As a threshold matter, the Court notes that by letter to the Court dated May 4, 2010, counsel for defendants Hohensee and Aikin advised the Court that the issues concerning the medical authorizations and the interrogatories have been resolved. Accordingly, this Court will only address the relief requested by defendants insofar as it relates to defendants' Rule 34 Document Demands.

FACTS*fn1

On or about March 14, 2008, plaintiff was sentenced to a term of imprisonment in the New York State Department of Correctional Services and was transferred to the Niagara County Jail. Dkt. #52, p.9, ¶¶ 1-2. Plaintiff alleges that prior to being incarcerated at the Niagara County Jail and while awaiting trial "as a pre-trial detainee," he was receiving treatment for "serious medical and mental health conditions." Id. at p.9, ¶ 3. As plaintiff was being processed at the Niagara County Jail, he alleges that he was assured that his medical records would be hand delivered to the Niagara County Jail Medical Department. Id. at p.10, ¶ 5. After plaintiff was processed, he alleges that he requested to see the nurse on duty and further, plaintiff alleges that he advised the staff at the Niagara County Jail that he had not taken his medication since March 13, 2008 because he had court. Id. at p.13, ¶ 5. Moreover, plaintiff alleges that he complained that he was in severe pain. Id.

Plaintiff alleges that he continued his requests for medical attention and to receive his medication the following day. Id. at pp.15-17. Mentioned throughout plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint are vague references to plaintiff's "serious medical and mental health conditions" and the medications he claimed to be taking, including, morphine, an anti-depressant, an inhaler, and heart medication. Id. at pp.16.-17. Plaintiff alleges that on March 16, 2008, after not receiving any medical attention or his medication for over two days, he asked to be taken to the emergency room because he was suffering from severe chest pains. Id. at p.17. Thereafter, plaintiff alleges that he was advised that he would see the doctor on March 18, 2008. Id. at p.18. It appears from the allegations in plaintiff's complaint that some time between March 18, 2008 and March 19, 2008, plaintiff attempted to commit suicide and was found with his shoelaces around his neck. Id. at p.19.

Elsewhere in his Second Amended Complaint, plaintiff discusses some of his medical conditions and the treatment he had received at the "Veterans Administration Hospital [sic]." Dkt. #52, p.27. Specifically, plaintiff states that he was being treated for Hepatitis C, a heart attack, high blood pressure, depression, pulmonary disease and hypertension. Id. Moreover, plaintiff alleges,

[a]s a direct results [sic] of defendants [sic] deprivations, this plaintiff [sic] condition has worsen [sic], that he needs a liver transplant, his health has become so unpredictable, hospitalized in (4) different correctional facilities, that he is in constant pain and nearly bed-ridden, who must use a cane to get around.

Id. With respect to defendant Hohensee, plaintiff claims that Dr. Hohensee was his "family doctor" who had treated plaintiff during a prior period of incarceration at the Niagara County Jail. Id. at pp.22 and 28.

As against defendant Hohensee, plaintiff alleges, Defendant, Dr. James Hohensee, M.D. deliberate [sic], with gross indifference, action [sic] in consert [sic] with others, denied plaintiff medical care and treatment for known life-threatening diseases/illnesses in violation of a clearly established law, rule, statue [sic], and code, acting in bad faith.

Id. at p.28. As against defendant Aikin, plaintiff alleges,

Defendant, Chris Aikin, Supervisor of Medical Department Niagara County Jail, failed to follow intake medical procedures that included screening new [sic] admitted immates [sic] for medical problems and provide medical treatment in accordance with state and Federal laws clearly established at the trial, acting in bad faith.

Id. at p.29.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On or about July 2, 2009, defendants Hohensee and Aikin served Rule 34 Document Demands (Dkt. #23) and Interrogatories (Dkt. #24) on plaintiff. On or about September 22, 2009, plaintiff filed his response to defendants' Rule 34 Document Demands and Interrogatories. Dkt. #34. In their Rule 34 Document Demands, defendants seek the following nine categories of documents:

1. "each and every grievance form filed at the Niagara County Jail from 2007 to present, along with any facility responses and/or appeals and responses thereto."

2. "any and all request forms filed at the Niagara County Jail from 2007 to present, including any requests for medical treatment."

3. "any and all prescriptions filled by the plaintiff prior to entering the Niagara County Jail in the six months prior to February 2007."

4. "any and all prescriptions filled by the plaintiff prior to entering the Niagara County Jail in the six months prior to March 2008."

5. "any records related to plaintiff's treatment at the Veteran's Administration [sic]."

6. "any records in plaintiff's possession related to plaintiff's psychiatric treatment following his suicide attempt on March 19, 2008."

7. "any records regarding treatment plaintiff has received following his release from the ...


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