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Edwin Parra v. Dr. Lester Wright

February 4, 2013


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



Edw in Parra (" Plaintiff" ) is an inmate in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (" DOCCS" ), and Defendants are all medical personnel employed by DOCCS. Now before the Court is Plaintiff's application for preliminary injunctive relief. (Docket No. [#19]). The application is denied.


Plaintiff suffers from degenerative disease in his lumbo-sacral spine. On May 26, 2011, Plaintiff commenced this action, proceeding pro se. At that time, Plaintiff w as housed at Southport Correctional Facility (" Southport" ). The Complaint [#1] alleges, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, that Defendants denied him medication and treatment for his spine condition at Southport, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. More specifically, the Complaint alleges that at a different correctional facility, prior to Plaintiff being transferred to Southport in April 2011, he w as receiving Ultram and Neurontin pain medications, physical therapy and a back brace, but that upon his arrival at Southport, medical staff discontinued the medications and therapy and confiscated his brace.

On September 17, 2012, Plaintiff filed the subject application (Docket No. [#19]) for preliminary injunctive relief, seeking an order directing medical staff at Southport to provide him w ith the follow ing: " previously prescribed medications," presumably meaning Ultram and Neurontin; a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (" TENS" ) unit; " physical therapy" ; " double mattress" ; and a " back brace." In support of the application, Plaintiff states, as he does in his Complaint, that medical staff at Southport are treating him differently than medical staff at other DOCCS facilities in w hich he has been housed. Plaintiff further states that on more than one occasion w hen he has been transferred to Southport, Defendant Wesley Canfield, M.D. (" Canfield" ) has discontinued all of his pain medications and treatments.

On September 19, 2012, Canfield responded to Plaintiff's application by pointing out that on April 9, 2012, in connection w ith a motion to dismiss, he had submitted an affidavit [#14-3] in w hich he agreed that he had discontinued Plaintiff's medications and treatments, because they w ere unnecessary. In that regard, Canfield stated that he review ed Plaintiff's medical file and determined that Plaintiff's prescribed pain medications, Neurontin and Ultram, w ere not needed, since a 2009 nerve conduction study w as normal, and a 2008 MRI test show ed only degenerative disc disease w ith " minimal" nerve root impingement. Canfield also stated that in making his decision, he had considered Plaintiff's history of drug abuse and smuggling, and decided that Ultram and Neurontin w ere " counter indicated" for Plaintiff. How ever, Plaintiff pointed out that Canfield did not explain w hy other doctors employed by DOCCS apparently disagreed w ith his assessment.

Consequently, on October 3, 2012, the Court issued a Decision and Order [#22] directing Canfield to provide additional information. Specifically, the Decision and Order stated, in pertinent part:

[I]t is hereby ORDERED, that on or before October 16, 2012, in connection w ith the subject motion for preliminary injunctive relief, Defendants are to file and serve an affidavit, from a medical doctor w ith personal know ledge of Plaintiff's condition, and attach relevant portions of Plaintiff's ambulatory health record, explaining: 1) any particular treatments that have been recommended or prescribed by any doctor, w hether or not employed by DOCCS, for Plaintiff's back condition; and 2) w hether Canfield's decision to stop Plaintiff's treatments is consistent w ith those recommendations/prescriptions, and if not, w hy not; and it is further ORDERED, that on or before October 31, 2012, Plaintiff shall file and serve any response.

Decision and Order [#22].

On October 16, 2012, Dr. Canfield filed a supplemental declaration [#23]. Canfield stated that w hen Plaintiff arrived at Southport in April 2012, from Five Points Correctional Facility (" Five Points" ), doctors at Five Points had been prescribing Plaintiff Neurontin, Ultram and a TENS unit, but not a double mattress. Canfield indicated, though, that w ith the exception of the TENS unit, w hich Plaintiff received at Southport, he discontinued those treatments, for several reasons, including the follow ing: 1) instead of Neurontin and Ultram, he directed that Plaintiff receive non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (" NSAIDS" ), w hich produce the same results as Ultram and Neurontin but do not have the same serious negative side effects; 2) Neurontin is not appropriate for Plaintiff in any event, since he does not have neurologic pain in his legs; 3) Plaintiff has a " significant history of drug-seeking and drug abuse," and Utram has a chemical structure similar to opioids, w hich makes the drug desirable to inmates w ho w ant to abuse the drug; 4) in 2012 the FDA cautioned against prescribing Ultram to addiction-prone patients; 5) Ultram can increase a patient's risk of suicide; 6) Plaintiff may be malingering to obtain the medication, since he is still able to play basketball and softball; and 7) there is no medical literature to support Plaintiff's belief that a " double mattress" is appropriate for back pain.

On October 16, 2012, Plaintiff filed a declaration [#24], apparently w ritten before he received Canfield's affidavit [#23], in w hich he refers to treatment recommendations that have allegedly been made by other doctors, and states that " Dr. Canfield and staff ha[ve] prescribed many medications and treatments, other than w hat w as previously prescribed . . . even though they have not given me any real relief." Id. at ¶ 6.

On October 23, 2012, Plaintiff filed another declaration [#25], that w as apparently drafted after receiving Canfield's affidavit [#23]. Plaintiff indicates, inter alia, that NSAIDS are not appropriate to treat him, and that Canfield is slandering him by suggesting that he is possibly malingering to obtain drugs. In addition, Plaintiff states that he no longer plays sports. Plaintiff also suggests, incorrectly in the Court's view , that Canfield failed to respond appropriately to the Court's Decision and Order [#22].

On December 10, 2012, Plaintiff notified the Court that he had been transferred to Attica Correctional Facility (" Attica" ). On January 22, 2013, the Court received a letter from Plaintiff, w ho is still housed at Attica, in w hich he now contends that the medical staff at Attica are failing to provide him w ith appropriate medical care. Plaintiff states that, similar to Canfield, the medical staff at Attica are denying him the medications and treatments that he w as receiving prior to being ...

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