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Daniels v. Douglas

United States District Court, Second Circuit

September 25, 2013

John Daniels, Plaintiff,
v.
Doctor Douglas et al., Defendant.

DECISION and ORDER

HUGH B. SCOTT, Magistrate Judge.

Before the Court is the defendants' motion for partial dismissal of the complaint. (Docket No. 34).

Background

In his initial complaint, the plaintiff, John Daniels' ("Daniels"), asserts that Dr. Douglas, Dr. Lewis[2] and Nurse Arnold[3] denied him proper medical treatment while he was incarcerated at the Orleans Correctional Facility ("OCF"). (Docket No. 1). Among other things, Daniels alleges that the defendants failed to properly treat him for testicle pain relating to hypogondadism (Docket No. 1 at ¶¶ 9-10). The plaintiff claims that the infectious disease specialist appointed by DOCCS to address the plaintiff's HIV related medical concerns prescribed testosterone cypionate for this condition. (Docket No. 1 at ¶ 11). Daniels asserts that his condition is outside the scope of Dr. Douglas' and Dr. Lewis' medical experience and requested that he be sent to see a urologist and a hormonal specialist. The plaintiff states that these requests were denied. (Docket No. 1 at ¶¶ 12-15). Daniels asserts that this testosterone level was too high and that Dr. Douglas and Dr. Lewis made adjustments to his prescribed testosterone dosage. The plaintiff contends that as a result of these adjustments, he experienced an over active urination condition, extreme testicle pain, testicle shrinkage, and constant pain running down his arm into his finger tips. (Docket No. 17-21). Daniels claims that on more than one occasion, Nurse Arnold "ejected over half of plaintiff's replacement shot on the floor, " telling Daniels that his testosterone level was too high and that the testosterone shots were making him aggressive. (Docket No. 1 at ¶ 22). The plaintiff further asserts that when he advised Dr. Douglas that he was experiencing the pain in his shoulder, arm and fingers, Dr. Douglas did not refer him to a neurologist or provide pain medication, but referred Daniels to a mental health specialist. (Docket No. 1 at ¶ 25). Daniels claims that because the defendants could not get his testosterone under control, they terminated his testosterone replacement therapy with complete disregard to his health. (Docket No. 28-29). The plaintiff claims that this conduct violated his Eight Amendment rights. (Docket No. 1 at ¶ 32).[4]

After the defendants' answer to the initial complaint was filed (Docket No. 6) and a scheduling order was issued (Docket No. 8), Daniels moved to supplement his complaint (Docket No. 11). The defendants advised the Court that they did not oppose the motion to supplement. (Docket No. 16). Thus, the plaintiff's motion was granted and the U.S. Marshal was directed to serve the defendants. The plaintiff's supplemental complaint names 8 new individual defendants, 5 John Doe[5] defendants and the County of Orleans[6] as defendants. The newly named defendants include: Sibatu Khahaifa, Superintendent of the OCF ("Khahaifa"); Mr. Fitts, Supervisor of Inmate Grievances at OCF ("Fitts"); Ms. Neal, Nurse Administrator at OCF ("Neal"); Ms. Hicks, Correctional Counselor at OCF ("Hicks"); Ms. Caswell, Correctional Counselor at OCF ("Caswell"); Ms. Hernandez, Correctional Counselor at OCF ("Hernandez"); B. Abrunzo ("Abrunzo"), Supervisor of Inmate Grievances at the Elmira Correctional Facility ("ECF"); and J. Northrup, Nurse Practioner at ECF ("Northrup"). In the Supplemental Complaint, Daniels alleges that he was retaliated against for filing a law suit in violation of New York State Corrections Law § 138(4) and that "OCF defendants" deliberately created unsafe living conditions in violation of New York Corrections Law §70(2)(c). (Docket No. 17 at ¶19). In this regard, the plaintiff claims that while incarcerated at ECF, Nurse Northrup denied Daniels his "Andro Gel" treatment which had been prescribed. The plaintiff asserts that he filed a grievance based upon Northrup's conduct. (Docket No. 17 at ¶¶20-27). Daniels contends that in retaliation for filing the grievance, he was immediately transferred from ECF to the Wyoming Correctional Facility ("WCF"). (Docket No. 17 at ¶ 28). The plaintiff states that at WCF he was initially housed with an individual named "Streets" who was a member of the "Bloods" gang. Due to threats from Streets and other gang members, Daniels was moved to the other side of the facility and eventually placed in protective custody. (Docket No. 29-31). Daniels was then transferred to OCF, where he contends he had previously had "multiple incidents" with members of the Bloods housed there. He advised officials at OCF of this history during processing and was placed directly in the Special Housing Unit ("SHU") for safety reasons. (Docket No. 17 at ¶¶32-35). Daniels asserts that despite this safety concern, he was not transferred out of OCF in retaliation because he had filed the law suit against the OCF medical staff. The plaintiff's request for "protective custody" status was also denied and the plaintiff was directed to leave SHU. Daniels refused to leave SHU due to his personal safety concerns. He received a misbehavior report for failing to leave SHU and was eventually sentenced to 30 days in SHU based upon the alleged infraction. (Docket No. 17 at ¶¶36-46). Daniels asserts that he wrote to Neal regarding to his inadequate medical treatment at OCF (Docket No. 17 at ¶47). The plaintiff states that he wrote to DOCCS' Counsel's Office and the Committee on Open Government complaining of defendant Caswell's failure to process a Freedom of Information Act ["FOIA"] request, but that the mail room staff refused to send his letter to the Committee on Open Government because they did not consider it to be "legal" mail. (Docket No. 17 at ¶¶48-51). Daniels claims that he wrote to Dr. Lewis to complain that he was not getting the Andro Gel treatment, but that Dr. Lewis did not respond. (Docket No. 53). After serving his 30 day SHU sentence, Daniels was again told he was to leave SHU, but he refused to leave. (Docket No. 17 at ¶55). He again received a misbehavior report for failing to leave SHU and was eventually sentenced to 60 days of SHU based upon that infraction. (Docket No. 17 at ¶56-57). On June 15, 2011, defendant Hernandez submitted a transfer request on Daniels behalf, but was subsequently advised by Hernandez that the request was denied. (Docket No. 17 at ¶¶ 58-59). On June 17, 2011, the plaintiff asserts that he was taken to an outside hospital because he had passed out due to chest pain, difficulty breathing and anxiety from the isolation. He was returned to OCF on June 18, 2011 with medication for his blood pressure and anxiety, and placed on a medical diet. After staying in the OCF infirmary for two days, he was returned to SHU on June 20, 2011. (Docket No. 17 at ¶¶60-62). Daniels states that he suffered an anxiety attack on June 19, 2011 but was not provided his anxiety medication. He also asserts that he requested mental heath service, but was not seen by anyone from mental health and did not receive prescribed medical care. (Docket No. 17 at ¶¶ 63-65). Daniels claims that on June 20, 2011, Dr. Lewis "retained" the plaintiff's HIV medications forcing Daniels to miss 10 doses of HIV medications and that Dr. Lewis failed to do anything to relieve the pain the plaintiff was experiencing. (Docket No. 17 at 66-67). Daniels claims that he submitted a request for medical records, but did not receive any response (Docket No. 17 at ¶69). He states that he wrote defendant Neal on July 15, 2011 regarding his medical treatment and that Neal responded by advising Daniels that his request for testosterone treatment was pending approval from "Albany." (Docket No. 17 at ¶¶70-71). Finally, Daniels states that he wrote to defendant Caswell on July 18, 2011 regarding his request for mental health treatment and his transfer request. (Docket No. 17 at ¶ 72). Based upon these allegations, the Supplemental Complaint asserts that following additional claims:

1. Retaliation by OCF staff for filing a §1983 action (Docket No. 17 at ¶¶ 74-76).
2. Interference with Plaintiff's legal mail by the OCF mail room staff. (Docket No. 17 at ¶¶77-79).
3. Violation of 7 N.Y.C.R.R. §5.35(d) based upon Caswell's refusal to process plaintiff's April 29, 2011 FOIA request. (Docket No. 17 at ¶80).
4. Deliberate indifference by Neal in refusing to address plaintiff's 8th Amendment claims regarding Dr. Lewis's "medical mistreatment." (Docket No. 17 at ¶¶81-84)
5. Deliberate indifference with respect to plaintiff's serious medical needs by Dr. Lewis and Dr. Douglas (Docket No. 17 at ¶¶ 85-94).
6. Unlawful punitive confinement of the plaintiff in SHU in violation of the 8th Amendment (Docket No. 17 at ¶¶95-100).
7. Deliberate indifference as to the mental health needs of inmates by Khahaifa and OMH (Docket No. 17 at ¶¶ 101-110).[7]
8. Manipulation of the grievance program by defendant Fitts in violation of the plaintiff's First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Docket No. 17 at ¶¶111-112).
9. Khahaifa maintained policies condoning the violation of plaintiff's rights and the deliberate indifference to his medical ...

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