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Phelan v. Chin

United States District Court, Second Circuit

August 19, 2013

DR. CHIN, [1] et al., Defendants.


MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Pro se plaintiff Kenneth Phelan ("Plaintiff"), an inmate in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision ("DOCCS") filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants, alleging that they acted with deliberate medical indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Plaintiff alleges that while incarcerated at Collins Correctional Facility ("Clinton") he was denied medication and treatment for his migraine headaches.

Defendants have filed a motion seeking dismissal of the complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("F.R.C.P.") or, in the alternative, summary judgment pursuant to F.R.C.P. 56(c).

II. Background

The following facts-viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff-are taken from the complaint and from the parties' submissions in conjunction with Defendants' motion. See, e.g., Lipton v. Nature Co. , 71 F.3d 464, 471 (2d Cir. 1995) ("For the purposes of a summary judgment motion, courts are required to view the facts in the light most favorable to the parties opposing the motion and to suspend judgments on credibility.").

Dr. Jin was employed as a doctor by DOCCS and assigned to Collins during the time when Plaintiff was an inmate there (October 2009, through February 2010). Upon his transfer to Collins, Plaintiff's medical records indicated that he has been prescribed Imitrex[2] for migraine headaches.

Plaintiff arrived at Collins on October 1, 2009, with a 30-day supply of Imitrex, an anti-migraine medication. Declaration of Kenneth Jin, M.D. ("Jin Decl."), ¶ 8. Plaintiff used up his 30-day supply in 12 days and, on October 13, 2009, requested more Imitrex. Id., ¶ 9. Plaintiff was counseled by medical staff as to proper use of the medication and given a new 30-day supply, which was intended to last until November 12, 2009. Id., ¶¶ 10-11.

On November 1, Plaintiff again requested a refill of Imitrex, stating he had used up his entire 30-day supply. Id., ¶11. Plaintiff was placed on Ibuprofen until November 12, 2009, at which time he was given a 30-day refill of Imitrex, with the proviso that the Imitrex was to be dispensed only by Collins' nursing staff upon Plaintiff's request. Id., ¶¶ 12-13.

On November 18, 2009, Dr. Jin examined Plaintiff at Collins and determined the likely cause of his headaches was a sinus condition, not migraines. Id., ¶ 14. Dr. Jin prescribed Motrin and Nasacort.

Plaintiff again used up his entire 30-day supply of Imitrex in under three weeks. On December 1, 2009, he requested additional Imitrex. Id., ¶ 15.

On December 7, 2009, Plaintiff was issued a misbehavior ticket for violating numerous facility rules, all of which involved the hoarding of food, clothing, and medication. See generally Declaration of Hillel Deutsch, Esq. ("Deutsch Decl."). Specifically, Plaintiff was found to have in his cell "1 messhall spoon, 3 juice containers, 1 salad container, 3 chip bags, 12 salt packets, 1 ketchup packet, 6 sugar packets, 1 milk container, 5 butter cups, 1 extra comb, 2 extra bars of soap, 3 extra [rolls of] toilet paper, 1 extra sheet, 1 extra green towel, 1 piece of torn state towel, 1 fishing pole made from newspaper and green thread, 1 fish line made of green thread, 2 extra undershorts, 3 extra state socks, 3 extra state t-shirts, 2 pages torn from a state library magazine, 1 ibuprofen packet, 12 [pills] of unknown medicine, possibly Tylenol, 5 antidiarrheal packets and 15 medicine D packets." Deutsch Decl., Exhibit ("Ex.") A.

From December 8, 2009, through December 15, 2009, Plaintiff had no access to Imitrex. During that time, his medical records indicate that he did not complain of headaches. See Jin Decl., ¶ 17 & Ex. A. On January 4, 2010, despite admitting he had no headache, Plaintiff nevertheless requested Imitrex. Id., ¶ 18 & Ex. A.

Based upon his examination of Plaintiff, Plaintiff's lack of headaches when Imitrex was discontinued, and Plaintiff's tendency to hoard medication, Dr. Jin concluded Plaintiff did not medically need Imitrex. Accordingly, he took Plaintiff off Imitrex and continued him on Nasacort and Motrin to address the ...

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