United States District Court, S.D. New York
Pedro Santana, Midstate Correctional Facility, Marcy, New York, Plaintiff (Pro se).
John Murtaugh, Esq., Gaines, Novick, Ponzini, Cossu & Venditti LLP, White Plains, New York, for Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
SHIRA A. SCHEINDLIN, District Judge.
Pedro Santana, presently incarcerated and proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code. Santana sues Westchester County ("the County"), Correct Care Solutions, LLC ("CCS"), New York Correct Care Medical Solutions, P.C. ("NYCCS"), Linda Beyor, Wanda Smithson, Dr. Raul Ulloa, Jean Watson, and June Yozzo alleging that these defendants deprived Santana of medical treatment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Santana seeks injunctive relief, a declaration that defendants violated his constitutional rights, and punitive damages in the amount of $9, 999, 000 against each defendant.
Defendants move for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the grounds that Santana was not deprived of any constitutional right and that defendants were not deliberately indifferent to Santana's serious medical needs. For the reasons stated below, defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.
CCS is a limited liability company that provides medical care to inmates at Westchester County Jail, and NYCCS is its wholly owned subsidiary. Dr. Ulloa, Nurse Beyer, and Nurse Watson were employees of CCS working at Westchester County Jail at all relevant times. Smithson is the Deputy Commissioner of Corrections for the County, and Yozzo is the County's former Medical Liaison for the Westchester County Jail.
On October 10, 2012, Santana was arrested in Westchester County and held for twenty-four hours at the police precinct. He was then transferred to Westchester County Jail where Nurse Watson performed his medical intake examination. During this examination, Santana informed Watson that he has multiple medical conditions including diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea. Santana explained that he had been prescribed a continuous positive airway pressure ("CPAP") machine to treat his sleep apnea. Watson made a note in the record that Santana has "unspecified sleep apnea, " but told Santana that she could not issue a CPAP machine "without a prescription." Santana submitted a health service request for a CPAP machine the next day. On October 12, a different nurse took Santana's vitals and observed "no acute distress, " but did not respond to his CPAP request or make any notes related to sleep apnea. Santana had another medical examination on October 21. The record from this examination, electronically signed by Nurse Watson and Dr. Ulloa, notes that Santana's physical and mental status was normal, and he did not report any pain. The notes state that Santana intended to submit another health service request for a "sleep apnea machine and evaluation." Santana submitted no further health service requests for his sleep apnea until November 9.
On November 7, Nurse Beyer asked Santana to sign a release authorizing Westchester County Jail medical personnel to obtain medical records related to his sleep apnea. The next day, a CCS employee spoke to the office manager at Santana's primary health care provider and was told that the office had no record that Santana was being treated for sleep apnea. The employee then called multiple health care providers in an attempt to learn where Santana had been treated. She reached a sleep center whose staff could not access its records, but was told to call back the following week. The medical staff made further efforts to obtain records related to Santana's sleep apnea treatment over the next three weeks.
In the meantime, on November 15, Santana submitted a grievance complaining that he had yet to be issued a CPAP machine. On November 20, the grievance coordinator denied Santana's grievance after receiving an email from Director of Nursing Michael Kelly finding that there was no record of Santana's sleep apnea at any of the clinics contacted by the medical staff. However, in a letter to Smithson, Kelly noted that Santana had submitted a request for care on October 12 and that there was "no documentation to support that the [nurse practitioner] addressed [Santana's] concern about sleep apnea or a CPAP unit." Santana appealed this denial. On November 28, Dr. Ulloa finally verified Santana's prescription and recorded in his progress notes that Santana would be called and started on a CPAP machine that day. However, Santana did not have continuous access to a CPAP machine adjusted to his prescribed setting until approximately five days later, in part because one of the nurses was not authorized to adjust the CPAP machine. On December 3, Smithson, who had reviewed Santana's grievance appeal, sent a memorandum to Santana stating that the medical staff had had difficulty verifying that Santana had been prescribed a CPAP machine, but that his complaint had been substantiated and his remedy granted. Santana testified that he had access to a CPAP machine on a daily basis and made no complaints from December 3 through December 11 when he was transferred out of the Westchester County Jail. Santana was in the custody of the New York City Department of Corrections between December 11, 2012 and January 29, 2013, when he was returned to the Westchester County Jail.
Santana received a CPAP machine as soon as he was returned to the Westchester County Jail. This machine was faulty, but he was issued a replacement that same day. On January 31, Santana submitted a health service request because his CPAP machine was on the wrong setting and was giving him "too much pressure." This problem was not addressed by medical staff for three days. Santana testified that he was "continuously complaining" during this time because his chest and stomach were hurting. On February 3, Dr. Ulloa ordered that Santana was to be kept in the infirmary until a new CPAP machine could be obtained. Medical staff procured a new CPAP machine, but the machine needed service, so Santana was held overnight in the infirmary for observation. The notes of the nurse on duty that evening report, "[Santana] is ambulatory and in no acute respiratory distress. He denies c/o or discomfort [of] any nature." Santana testified that "everything was fine" with his CPAP machine between February 3 and some time in March, when he had an issue that was "immediately" addressed.
Santana submitted a grievance on February 10, claiming that the medical personnel at the Westchester County Jail were not qualified to treat his sleep apnea and that the CPAP machines were faulty. This grievance was denied on appeal through the final level of review, the Citizens' Policy and Complaint Review Board. Nonetheless, Santana maintains that medical care at the Westchester County Jail is inadequate because there is no sleep specialist on staff, multiple members of the medical staff were not trained to adjust his CPAP machine to the proper setting, and he has been given a CPAP machine on the wrong setting and has had to adjust the settings himself. In further support of this contention, Santana has cited to the case of another Westchester County inmate whose sleep apnea treatment was similarly delayed. He also cites to a 2009 report stating that grievance forms were unavailable to prisoners at Westchester County Jail, and detailing deficiencies in infection control and dental care.
Prior to Santana's incarceration, Dr. Ahmed Fadil diagnosed him with "moderate" sleep apnea and prescribed a CPAP machine. In a "Letter of Medical Necessity" dated August 20, 2013, Fadil characterized Santana's condition as "Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea, " for which a CPAP machine is "medically necessary, " and directed that Santana should continue using the CPAP machine indefinitely. According to Dr. Fadil, "fflailure to treat sleep apnea will result ...