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Griffin v. Amatucci

United States District Court, N.D. New York

June 19, 2014

DONALD GRIFFIN, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. GERALD AMATUCCI and NURSE SMITH, Nurse Administrator, Upstate Correctional Facility, Defendants.

DONALD GRIFFIN, 87-A-0320, Orleans Correctional Facility Albion, New York, Plaintiff pro se.

ADRIENNE J. KERWIN, AAG, OFFICE OF THE NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL. Albany, New York, Attorney for Defendants.

DECISION AND ORDER

MAE A. D'AGOSTINO, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff commenced this civil rights action in September of 2011, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated at Upstate Correctional Facility. See Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care by providing him with a CPAP machine without the humidifier attachment recommended by his treating specialist. See id.

On October 31, 2013, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Dkt. No. 37-2 at 1. In a Report-Recommendation and Order dated April 29, 2014, Magistrate Judge Dancks recommended that the Court deny Defendants' motion. See Dkt. No. 42. On May 16, 2014, Defendants filed objections to Magistrate Judge Dancks' Report-Recommendation and Order. See Dkt. No. 43.

Currently before the Court is Magistrate Judge Dancks' Report-Recommendation and Order.

II. BACKGROUND

On August 24, 2010, Plaintiff, then an inmate at Upstate Correctional Facility, underwent a sleep study at Alice Hyde Medical Center. See Dkt. No. 1 at 5.[1] Plaintiff was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. See id. Plaintiff underwent another sleep study at Alice Hyde Medical Center on January 11, 2011, to determine the best treatment for his condition. See Dkt. No. 1 at 5; Dkt. No. 37-4 at ¶ 3. The specialist who conducted the study stated that "CPAP should be initiated using an UltraMirage full face medium mask with heat and humidity[.]" See Dkt. No. 1 at 12; Dkt. No. 37-4 at ¶ 4.

On February 14, 2011, Defendant Nancy Smith, a Nurse Administrator at Upstate Correctional Facility, received a quote for the price for Plaintiff's CPAP machine. See Dkt. No. 1 at 13. The document did not contain a quote for the humidifier recommended by the specialist. See id. CPAP machines with humidifiers cost approximately $230 more than those without. See id. at 20. Defendant Smith submitted a request for approval for the cost of the CPAP machine without a humidifier. See Dkt. No. 41-4 at 3. Defendant Gerald Amatucci approved Defendant Smith's request for that CPAP machine on February 15, 2011. See Dkt. No. 37-4 at ¶ 6. On February 22, 2011, Defendant Smith issued Plaintiff a CPAP machine without a humidifier attachment. See Dkt. No. 1 at 6; Dkt No. 37-4 at ¶ 8.

On February 23, 2011, Plaintiff wrote to Defendant Smith and informed her that the CPAP machine without a humidifier was exacerbating his sleep apnea symptoms by drying out his throat. See Dkt. No. 1 at 6. Defendant Smith responded in writing on March 7, 2011, that Plaintiff "will not receive a humidifier" for the CPAP machine because Defendant Amatucci, the Regional Medical Director, "will not approve them." See id. at 17. Defendant Smith stated that the humidifier was "not needed for [the] CPAP machine to work." See id. Defendant Amatucci has never examined Plaintiff ( see Dkt. No. 37-3 at 28:16-18), and nothing in the record indicates that Defendant Amatucci reviewed Plaintiff's medical files in the course of considering Defendant Smith's request.

Plaintiff submitted a grievance regarding the humidifier issue on May 17, 2011. See Dkt. No. 1 at 19. Plaintiff attached a letter from an unnamed person, which was addressed to him, stating that "Stephanie spoke with Alice Hyde Hospital Sleep Apnea Center... According to them the humidifier should always be used." See id. at 20. Plaintiff asserts that this letter indicates that "Alice Hyde Medical Center Sleep Lab made it clear" that the humidifier was required. See id. at 7.

Plaintiff's grievance was denied at the first level of review. See id. On June 16, 2011, the Superintendent denied the grievance at the second level of review. See id. at 30. The Superintendent's denial stated that Plaintiff "has been repeatedly advised that per... Dr. Amatucci, no humidifiers for CPAP machines will be approved as they are not medically necessary. Humidification has no effect on the performance of the machine in preventing sleep apnea. [Plaintiff] has a functional CPAP machine that does not require humidification to operate properly." See id. Plaintiff's grievance was denied at the final level of review on August 24, 2011. See ...


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