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Richard N. Quinn v. Daniel L. Stewart

April 2, 2012

RICHARD N. QUINN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DANIEL L. STEWART, DOMINICK ORSINO, THOMAS ROOME, LORRAINE LEVITAS, MARIA KARIMI, MD,
CORRECTIONAL MEDICAL CARE INC., AND COUNTY OF ORANGE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul A. Engelmayer, District Judge:

OPINION & ORDER

ADOPTING REPORTS & RECOMMENDATIONS

Richard Quinn, formerly incarcerated at the Orange County Correctional Facility ("OCCF"),*fn1 brings this action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Daniel L. Stewart, Dominick Orsino, Thomas Roome, Lorraine Levitas, Maria Karimi, Correctional Medical Care, Inc. ("CMC"), and the County of Orange, New York ("Orange County"), alleging violations of his Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care and his First Amendment right to delivery of mail. For the reasons set forth below, the Court (1) adopts in full both Reports and Recommendations of the Magistrate Judge, Hon. James C. Francis; (2) makes an additional ruling that supplies an alternative ground for dismissal of Quinn's claim with respect to alleged tampering with his mail; and (3) grants defendants' motions to dismiss the Amended Complaint, except with respect to Quinn's Eighth Amendment claim of inadequate medical care for his cyst, anemia, gunshot wound, and back problems, to the extent brought against defendants Karimi and Levitas, as to which the Court denies the motion to dismiss.

I.Background

A.Procedural History

On November 29, 2010, Judge Paul A. Crotty, to whom this case was then assigned, referred this case to Magistrate Judge James C. Francis for general pretrial matters and dispositive motions.

On April 7, 2011, defendant Stewart moved to dismiss all claims against him pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). On July 26, 2011, Judge Francis issued a Report and Recommendation ("First Report") recommending that the Court dismiss Quinn's Amended Complaint as to Stewart (Dkt. 42). On August 16, 2011, Quinn timely filed a two-page letter, which was deemed by the Court to be his objections to the First Report. On August 26, 2011, Stewart submitted a response to Quinn's objections.

On October 31, 2011, defendants Orsino, Roome, Levitas, Karimi, CMC, and Orange County (collectively, "OCCF defendants") moved to dismiss all claims against them pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). On January 18, 2012, Judge Francis issued a Report and Recommendation ("Second Report") that the Court dismiss Quinn's Amended Complaint as to Orsino, Roome, CMC, and Orange County, but not as to Karimi and Levitas (Dkt. 67). On January 31, 2012, Quinn timely submitted his objections to the Second Report. On February 1, 2012, Quinn submitted a letter styled as an addendum to his objections to the Second Report.*fn2

B.Facts

Quinn was a pre-trial detainee at OCCF at all times relevant to this claim. He claims to have received inadequate medical care while incarcerated, and that OCCF officials deliberately interfered with the delivery of his legal mail. The Court adopts all relevant facts as stated in the First Report (Dkt. 42) and the Second Report (Dkt. 67).

C.Judge Francis's First Report

Commissioner Stewart moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint on the grounds that:

(1) Quinn failed to adequately plead his claims; (2) Quinn failed to exhaust his administrative remedies; (3) Quinn failed to state a claim; (4) Stewart lacked personal involvement in the alleged constitutional deprivation; (5) Stewart is entitled to qualified immunity; and (6) claims against state officials, like Stewart, are barred by the Eleventh Amendment.

1.Administrative Exhaustion Judge Francis first addressed Stewart's claim that Quinn had failed to exhaust all available administrative remedies. Quinn made five separate grievances while in custody at OCCF: He alleged (1) inadequate medical care for a colloid cyst and brain tumor, anemia, a gunshot wound, and back problems; (2) inadequate treatment for Hepatitis C; (3) an erroneous prescription for nasal spray; (4) mail tampering; and (5) improper denial of permission to wear "thermals." As to the first grievance, Judge Francis found that Quinn had exhausted all administrative remedies for that claim. However, as to the second, relating to his treatment for Hepatitis C, Judge Francis found that because Quinn had not received a final decision with respect to that grievance at the time he filed his original Complaint, he had not exhausted his administrative remedies. As to the three remaining claims-relating to the nasal spray prescription, the alleged mail tampering, and authorization to wear thermals-Judge Francis found that because Quinn had filed his initial grievances with respect to those claims after the date on which he filed his original Complaint, he had not exhausted his administrative remedies as to those claims.

2.Eighth Amendment Judge Francis next addressed Stewart's argument that Quinn had failed to state an Eighth Amendment claim. To establish an Eighth Amendment claim arising out of allegedly inadequate medical care, a prisoner must demonstrate first an objective "medical need," and second, a subjective finding that the prison official acted with "deliberate indifference," or a "sufficiently culpable state of mind." Smith v. Carpenter, 316 F.3d 178, 183--84 (2d Cir. 2003). Judge Francis found that in light of the relaxed pleading standards for pro se complaints, Quinn's general and conclusory statements supporting the allegation that he suffered substantial pain sufficiently alleged facts to satisfy the objective prong of an Eighth Amendment claim. However, as to the subjective prong, Judge Francis found that based on the facts pled in the Amended Complaint, Stewart was not, as alleged, personally involved in the inadequate medical care, and thus, that Quinn had failed to allege a sufficiently culpable state of mind to satisfy the subjective prong of that claim.

Accordingly, as to Stewart, Judge Francis recommended dismissal of Quinn's claim for inadequate medical care on the basis of a failure to plead sufficient personal involvement, and dismissal of all remaining claims ...


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