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Colon v. County of Nassau

United States District Court, E.D. New York

September 26, 2014

RANDY COLON, HUGH SMITH, EDWARD VAIANA, ELVI RODRIGUEZ, and TYRON MAYNOR, Plaintiffs,
v.
COUNTY OF NASSAU; MICHAEL J. SPOSATO, Sheriff of Nassau County; ARMOR CORRECTIONAL HEALTH, INC.; DR. KAY, M.D.; DR. OMANU, M.D.; DR. VINCENT MANETTI, M.D.; NURSE ADMINISTRATOR HAILEY; DR. SANTARELLI, D.D.S., Defendants.

Randy Colon, pro se Elvi Rodriguez, pro se Tyron Maynor, pro se Nassau County Correctional Center East Meadow, NY, Hugh Smith, pro se Edward Vaiana, pro se Altona Correctional Facility Altona, NY, for Plaintiffs.

Pablo A. Fernandez, Esq., Nassau County Attorney's Office, Mineola, NY, for the County Defendants.

John J. Doody, Esq., Suzanne E. Aribakan, Esq., Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, LLP, New York, NY, for the Armor Defendants.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

JOANNA SEYBERT, District Judge.

Currently before the Court is a motion to dismiss filed by defendants Dr. Kay, M.D.; Dr. Omanu, M.D.; Dr. Vincent Manetti, M.D.; Nurse Administrator Hailey, R.N.; Dr. Santarelli, D.D.S. (collectively, the "Individual Armor Defendants"); and Armor Correctional Health, Inc. ("Armor, " and together with the Individual Armor Defendants, the "Armor Defendants"). For the following reasons, the Armor Defendants' motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

BACKGROUND[1]

I. Factual Background

Pro se plaintiffs Randy Colon ("Colon"), Hugh Smith ("Smith"), Edward Vaiana ("Vaiana"), Elvi Rodriguez ("Rogriguez"), and Tyron Maynor ("Maynor") (collectively, "Plaintiffs")[2] are a group of former and current inmates incarcerated at the Nassau County Correctional Center (the "NCCC"). Plaintiffs assert various federal and state law claims against the Armor Defendants and additional defendants Nassau County (the "County") and the Nassau County Sheriff, Michael J. Sposato ("Sposato") (collectively, "Defendants"), arising out of Defendants' alleged failure to provide adequate medical care to Plaintiffs while housed at the NCCC. The Complaint alleges various purported violations and is organized into sections by the particular claim and/or defendant. In reciting the facts, the Court will draw from the Complaint's structure.

A. The County's Contract with Armor

On June 1, 2011, the County and Sposato entered into a contract with Armor, a "Florida-based health care corporation, " for Armor to provide medical services for the inmates at the NCCC. (Compl. at 8[3], ¶¶ 1, 4.) According to Plaintiffs, the contract "confines" Armor to a $25 million budget, which covers "all costs and fees for medications, salaries, supplies, and even community based health care services... and tests and procedures." (Compl. at 9, ¶ 5.) Plaintiffs claim that the contract, because it subjects Armor to a fixed budget, causes Armor "to cut costs wherever possible" in order to maximize profit, which in turn results in "sub-standard" healthcare services. (Compl. at 10, ¶ 7.) This, Plaintiffs contend, constitutes deliberate indifference to the medical needs of the inmates at the NCCC in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

B. Dr. Kay

The Complaint also makes the following allegations against Defendant Dr. Kay. Dr. Kay is the Chief Medical Officer of the NCCC. (Compl. at 10, ¶ 11.) Plaintiffs allege generally that, as the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kay "adheres to and enforces" Armor's "company policy" of limiting "medication dispensing and prescribing" within the budget for the NCCC "notwithstanding medical need." (Compl. at 10-11, ¶ 11.) Plaintiff Smith alleges that Dr. Kay refused to order batteries for his hearing aids despite the fact that Smith was "in possession of" medical records that demonstrate that he requires hearing aids. (Compl. at 11-12, ¶ 14.) Additionally, Smith claims that he has "documented" podiatric issues and is a type 2 diabetic but Dr. Kay "refuses" to send him for a podiatric or ophthalmological consult. (Compl. at 12, ¶ 15.) Plaintiff Colon similarly alleges that he is a type 1 diabetic and that Dr. Kay has "consistently denied podiatric and ophthalmological preventative care." (Compl. at 12, ¶ 17.) Based on these allegations, Smith and Colon claim that Dr. Kay was deliberately indifferent to their medical needs in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and that he committed medical malpractice under New York state law.

C. Dr. Manetti

The Complaint makes the following allegations against Dr. Manetti. Dr. Manetti is employed by Armor as a staff psychiatrist at the NCCC. (Compl. at 14, ¶ 23.) Plaintiffs allege generally that inmates at the NCCC with documented psychiatric history "have been denied psychoactive medication" "based on Armor's strict budget policies." (Compl. at 14, ¶ 24.) For example, Plaintiff Rodriguez alleges that when he was previously housed at the NCCC, he "was given psych[o]active medication" but that Dr. Manetti later told him "well, since Armor doesn't want to pay for it, I guess you don't need it." (Compl. at 14, ¶ 25.) Plaintiff Smith similarly alleges that he was denied psychoactive medication "based on Armor's strict budget policies" despite a "well documented 10 year psych history." (Compl. at 14, ¶ 24.) Based on these allegations, Smith and Rodriguez claim that Dr. Manetti was deliberately indifferent to their medical needs in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and that he committed medical malpractice under New York state law.

D. Nurse Administrator Hailey

The Complaint makes the following allegations against Nurse Administrator Hailey ("Nurse Hailey"). Plaintiffs allege that Nurse Hailey "consistently overrules tests, procedures, consults, and other treatments deemed medially necessary by Licensed Physicians and Specialized Care Practitioners, " despite the fact that her nursing license limits her to the practice of nursing. (Compl. at 15-16, ¶¶ 29-31.) Plaintiff Maynor claims that a physician at the NCCC referred him to the Nassau University Medical Center ("NUMC") for his elbow. (Compl. at 16, ¶ 32.) Although a physician at the NUMC opined that surgery for Maynor's elbow was "medically necessary, " Nurse Hailey "decided unilaterally that the operation was not medically necessary." (Compl. at 16, ¶¶ 33, 34.) Based on these allegations, Maynor claims that Nurse Hailey was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and that she "is guilty of practice of medicine without a license." (Compl. at 15.)

E. Dr. Santarelli

The Complaint makes the following allegations against Dr. Santarelli. Dr. Santarelli is a dentist employed by Armor. (Compl. at 19, ¶¶ 43-44.) Plaintiffs allege generally that Dr. Santarelli refuses to provide "preventative dentistry" except for inmates sentenced as county prisoners and that he performs extractions and other painful procedures without administering anesthesia. (Compl. at 19, ¶¶ 44, 46.) Smith alleges that after he chipped his tooth in August 2012, Dr. Santarelli filed the damaged tooth with a drill without first administering anesthesia and then refused to give him Tylenol for the pain. (Compl. at 20, ¶¶ 47-48.) Based on these allegations, Smith claims that Dr. Santarelli was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and that he committed dental malpractice.

F. Privacy Claims

Plaintiffs also allege that Armor staff "constantly permit[ ] correction staff [to] access Confidential Medical Records" and discuss "Mental Health and HIV-related-and other confidential health matters-with the correctional staff, without express written consent." (Compl. at 18, ¶ 41.) For example, on August 15, 2012, Captain Ford, the Chief Administrative Officer, told Plaintiff Vaiana "that the Facility Physician' discussed with him details of [Vaiana's] medical conditions... without written consent or release." (Compl. at 18-19, ¶ 42.) Based on these allegations, Vaiana contends that the County, Sposato, and Armor have violated the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act ("HIPAA") and "other state and Federal privacy laws [that] prohibit the dissemination of Confidential Medical Information to any third party." (Compl. at 18, ¶ 40.) The Complaint also states the Court "may wish to consider" a "conspiracy against rights" claim as well as a civil claim under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"). (Compl. at 20-21, ¶ 51.)

G. Injunctive and Declaratory Relief

The Complaint also seeks various forms of injunctive and declaratory relief. Specifically, the Complaint seeks "a preliminary and permanent injunction, enjoining, prohibiting and restraining enforcement of the contract" between the County and Armor. (Compl. at 28.) It also seeks a judgment declaring (1) that the contract violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and thus is illegal and unenforceable; (2) that the Individual Armor Defendants are "guilty" of medical malpractice and deliberate indifference; and (3) that Defendants "violate Plaintiffs' rights under HIPAA and other Federal and state privacy laws." (Compl. at 26-27.)

II. Procedural History

On December 3, 2012, mail sent by the Court to Plaintiffs Vaiana, Rodriguez, and Maynor at the NCCC was returned as undeliverable with notations that these plaintiffs were "DISCHARGED." (Docket Entries 25-27.) However, Vaiana subsequently filed a notice of change of address on April 10, 2014, respectively advising the Court that he had been transferred to the Altona Correctional Facility (the "ACF") in Altona, New York. (Docket Entry 54.) Rodriguez and Maynor have not updated their addresses.

On December 6, 2013, the Armor Defendants moved to dismiss this action for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Docket Entry 50.) Plaintiffs have not submitted ...


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