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Tavares v. New York City Health and Hospitals Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

January 13, 2015



P. KEVIN CASTEL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Pedro Tavares, proceeding pro se, brings this action against the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation ("HHC"), [1] Lynda D. Curtis, Michael Deutsch, Bartosz Grobelny, and Mark Scott (collectively with HHC, the "City Defendants"); and Lawrence Mieteles, Nelson Muthra and Maryann Genovese, all three employees of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision ("DOCCS") (collectively, the "DOCCS Defendants"). He asserts causes of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law, alleging that he was provided inadequate medical care which caused him to develop a hearing impairment, and that the defendants falsified medical records in order to cover up the real cause of his impairment.

The City Defendants and the DOCCS Defendants have moved separately to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Fed.R.Civ.P. For the following reasons, the City Defendants' motion is denied with respect to defendant Deutsch, but granted with respect to the other City Defendants. The DOCCS Defendants' motions are granted in their entirety.


The following facts are taken from Tavares's amended complaint (Dkt. No. 36) unless otherwise noted, and are accepted as true for the purposes of this motion.[2] On March 10, 2011, Tavares, who was then incarcerated at the George R. Vierno Center ("GRVC"), a facility operated by the New York City Department of Corrections ("DOC"), was discharged from Bellevue Hospital after receiving surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome on his left hand. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 5, 6.) He was discharged mere hours after the surgery, [3] and the doctor who did so, defendant Michael Deutsch, failed to direct corrections officers to refrain from handcuffing him. (Id. ¶ 6.) He also failed to protect the wound with "some type of gasket" to prevent infection. (Opp'n to City Defs.' Mot. 10; see also id. at 2 (stating that "the surgery was [sic] been left open").) As a result, his hand became infected "all the way up to elbow [sic], or further up to the arm" (Am. Compl. ¶ 6), and Tavares was readmitted to Bellevue on March 17. (Id. ¶ 7.) He stayed there until March 22, and was administered a course of antibiotics, which was necessary to avoid the amputation of his hand. (Id.) Tavares alleges that the doctor who administered the antibiotics, defendant Bartosz Grobelny, did not take any precautionary measures and failed to take into account Tavares's age and other medical conditions. (Id.)

During his stay at Bellevue, Tavares began to notice that he was losing his hearing. (Id. ¶ 8.) He informed the hospital staff, which ordered a hearing test. (Id.) He was discharged without being told his test results. (Id.) Tavares was then transferred out of DOC custody, to DOCCS's Downstate Correctional Facility. (Id. ¶ 9.) On July 7, he underwent an audiology test, which determined that he suffered from High Tone Hearing Impairment in both ears. (Id. ¶¶ 9, 10; Pl.'s Aff. Ex. 4 (Dkt. No. 68).). On July 15, Tavares saw defendant Dr. Lawrence Mieteles, an otolaryngology specialist, who noted that Tavares's hearing loss might be linked to noise exposure, since Tavares used to work in construction. (Am. Compl. ¶ 10; Pl.'s Aff. Ex. 5.). Tavares claims, however, that he never told Mieteles about his work in construction, and furthermore that he never worked with noisy machinery. (Am. Compl. ¶ 10.) He alleges that his hearing loss was in fact caused by "the excessive amount of antibiotic [sic] ordered by Defendant Dr. Bartosz Grobelny" (id. ¶ 9), and that Mieteles was attempting to "cover-up" the City Defendants' negligence in giving him these antibiotics. (Id. ¶ 10.) He further alleges that the other DOCCS Defendants, Dr. Nelson Muthra and Dr. Maryann Genovese, were "co-conspirator[s]" with Mieteles (Id. ¶ 11), because his medical records contain a written statement by Muthra that noise exposure caused Tavares's hearing loss (Pl.'s Aff. ¶ 8; Pl.'s Aff. Ex. 6), and Genovese "endorsed" that statement. (Pl.'s Aff. ¶ 9.)

Tavares filed this action on May 3, 2013 (Dkt. No. 2), and filed the amended complaint on January 10, 2014. The City Defendants moved to dismiss on May 29. (Dkt. No. 55.) Mieteles and Muthra moved to dismiss on June 26 (Dkt. No. 60), and Genovese moved separately on September 10. (Dkt. No. 74.) As of December 3, all three motions were fully briefed.


"To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id . "The plausibility standard... asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id . In assessing the complaint, the district court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant. In re Elevator Antitrust Litig., 502 F.3d 47, 50 (2d Cir. 2007). Legal conclusions and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, " however, are not entitled to any presumption of truth. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

Courts have a duty to construe a complaint filed by a pro se plaintiff liberally, conducting their examination with "special solicitude [and] interpreting the complaint to raise the strongest claims that it suggests." Hill v. Curcione, 657 F.3d 116, 122 (2d Cir. 2011).


I. Section 1983 Claims

A. Claims against the City ...

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