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William Snyder v. Cindy Law

December 21, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Randolph F. Treece United States Magistrate Judge


Pro se Plaintiff William Snyder brings this civil rights action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights while he was admitted to the Central New York Psychiatric Center (CNYPC). Dkt. No. 1, Compl. Defendants seek dismissal of the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Dkt. No. 10, Defs.' Mot. Despite being granted an extension of time, Plaintiff has failed to respond to the Motion. See Text Order, dated Apr. 7, 2010. Instead, Plaintiff filed another Motion for Appointment of Counsel. Dkt. No. 20. For the reasons stated herein, it is recommended that Defendants' Motion be granted and the entire Complaint be dismissed.


The following facts are derived from the Complaint which, in accordance with the applicable standard of review, this Court must accept as true. See infra Part II.A.

Plaintiff suffers from schizoaffective disorder.*fn1 Compl. at Facts ¶ 6. On or about May 27, 2009, Plaintiff was admitted to CNYPC, at which point he explained to Defendant Dr. Chu, a psychiatrist employed by CNYPC, that his psychiatric medication, Risperidol®,*fn2 was not working. Id. at ¶ 1. Dr. Chu prescribed "Clazerol"*fn3 in addition to Risperidol®. Id. at ¶ 2. Plaintiff took the newly prescribed medication for about two weeks, during which time he experienced side effects such as "sleeping all day, drooling on [himself,] and urinating on [himself] while [he] slept." Id. at ¶ 3. Plaintiff relayed his dissatisfaction with Clozaril® to Dr. Chu and sought new medication. Id. at Fact ¶¶ 3 & 5. Plaintiff unilaterally discontinued taking Clozaril® because of the undesirable side effects. Thereafter, during his four and one-half month stay at CNYPC, Plaintiff engaged in life-threatening, self-mutilation, including cutting himself, swallowing metal pieces, and swallowing half of a slipper. Id. at Facts ¶ 4.

The first cutting incident occurred on an unspecified date, and resulted in five staples being placed on Plaintiff's stomach. Id. at Facts ¶ 5. After this event, Dr. Chu did not alter Plaintiff's medication, nor did Plaintiff resume taking the Clozaril®. Id. Plaintiff then removed the staples from his stomach because the demons in his stomach demanded to be freed. Id. at Facts ¶ 6. After this event, Dr. Chu did not alter Plaintiff's medication. Id. Two weeks later, in an effort to free the demons, Plaintiff cut his stomach to the point where his intestines were "hanging out." Id. at ¶ 7. On July 27, 2009, with an aim toward freeing the demons, Plaintiff swallowed four pieces of sharp metal and cut his stomach. Id. at Facts ¶ 8. These dire, self-inflicted injuries resulted in Plaintiff undergoing a hernia operation, an appendectomy, and his intestines were cut open to remove the metal. Id. Dr. Chu did not alter his medication, but she and Defendant Cindy Law, P.A., directed that Plaintiff sleep on a mattress on the floor for three weeks. Id. at Facts ¶¶ 9 & 12. Plaintiff asserts he suffered excruciating pain any time he sought to stand up and that he should have instead been directed to sleep on a medical bed. Id. at ¶ 12. From August 10, 2009 through August 24, 2009, Plaintiff experienced auditory hallucinations, which Dr. Chu refused to address. Id. at Facts ¶ 10. On August 24, 2009, at the direction of the demons, Plaintiff swallowed half of a slipper. Id. Because of his recurrent self-mutilation, Plaintiff was isolated in a rubber room for forty-three days.*fn4 Id. at Facts ¶ 11. After this last episode, Dr. Chu prescribed Plaintiff Zyprexa®.*fn5 Id. at ¶ 13. After taking Zyprexa® for one week, Plaintiff no longer heard the demons or had thoughts of cutting the demons out of his stomach. Id.


A. Standard of Review

On a motion to dismiss, the allegations of the complaint must be accepted as true. See Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 322 (1972). The trial court's function "is merely to assess the legal feasibility of the complaint, not to assay the weight of the evidence which might be offered in support thereof." Geisler v. Petrocelli, 616 F.2d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 1980). "The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974) (overruled on other grounds by Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984)).

"Generally, in determining a 12(b)(6) motion, the court may only consider those matters alleged in the complaint, documents attached to the complaint, and matters to which the court may take judicial notice." Spence v. Senkowski, 1997 WL 394667, at *2 (N.D.N.Y. July 3, 1997) (citing Kramer v. Time Warner Inc., 937 F.2d 767, 773 (2d Cir. 1991)). Moreover, "even if not attached or incorporated by reference, a document 'upon which [the complaint] solely relies and which is integral to the complaint' may be considered by the court in ruling on such a motion." Roth v. Jennings, 489 F.3d 499, 509 (2d Cir. 2007) (quoting Cortec Indus., Inc. v. Sum Holding L.P., 949 F.2d 42, 47 (2d Cir. 1991)).

The court is bound to give the plaintiff the benefit of every reasonable inference to be drawn from the "well-pleaded" allegations of the complaint. See Retail Clerks Intern. Ass'n, Local 1625, AFL-CIO v. Schermerhorn, 373 U.S. 746, 754 n. 6 (1963); see also Arar v. Ashcroft, 532 F.3d 157, 168 (2d Cir. 2008). Nevertheless, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, __ U.S. __, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Therefore, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (citation omitted).

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) may not be granted so long as the plaintiff's complaint includes "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, __ U.S. __, 129 S.Ct. at 1960 (citing Twombly). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, __ U.S. __, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. This plausibility standard "is not akin to a 'probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. Thus, in spite of the deference the court is bound to give to the plaintiff's allegations, it is not proper for the court to assume that "the [plaintiff] can prove facts [which he or she] has not alleged, or that the defendants have violated the . . . laws in ways that have not been alleged." Assoc. Gen. Contractors of California, Inc. v. California State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). The process of determining whether a plaintiff has "nudged [his] claims . . . across the line from conceivable to plausible," entails a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, __ U.S. __, 129 S.Ct. at 1950-51.

With this standard in tow, we consider the plausibility of ...

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