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Washington v. Westchester County Dep't of Correction

United States District Court, S.D. New York

January 30, 2015




In early 2013, Plaintiff Darrell Washington, who is proceeding pro se and is currently incarcerated, experienced complications from a severe bacterial infection while incarcerated at the Westchester County Jail. Plaintiff brought suit under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, alleging deliberate indifference to his medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff's Complaint was dismissed on April 24, 2014, for failure to state a claim. With the Court's leave to file a more particularized pleading, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on May 26, 2014. Defendants now move to dismiss the Amended Complaint, again for failure to state a claim. For the reasons discussed herein, that motion is granted.


The Court assumes familiarity with the facts and procedural history set forth in its prior decision granting Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint, and granting Plaintiff leave to amend, Washington v. Westchester County Dep't of Corr., No. 13 Civ. 5322 (KPF), 2014 WL 1778410 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 25, 2014), as well as the Court's rulings therein. For convenience, the particular facts relevant to this motion are set forth below.

A. Factual Background

Plaintiff was arrested on or about January 23, 2013. (Am. Compl. 2). Prior to his arrest, Plaintiff had been prescribed a medication called Doxycycline, as well as an ointment called Bactroban. (Id. at 3, 17; see also Pl. Opp., Ex. A at 1). Plaintiff alleges that he was prescribed these medications "for treatment [of] the infectious disease MRSA." (Am. Compl.3).[2] In support of this allegation, Plaintiff has submitted a medical report dated January 4, 2013 - approximately 19 days prior to his arrest - from Hudson Valley Hospital ("Hudson Valley") in Cortland Manor, New York. ( See Pl. Opp., Ex. A). The treating physician indicated that Plaintiff complained of "pain, erythema[, ] tenderness of both knees[, ] and one spot on his abdomen, " and reported that his symptoms began "with a rash on his back two months ago and... several, painful lesions in the interim." (Id. at 1). The doctor's "clinical impression [wa]s MRSA cellulitis" and his diagnosis was "acute cellulitis." (Id. ). The doctor prescribed two medications: 20 tabs of Doxycycline (with instructions to take two tabs daily for 10 days) and Bactroban ointment (with instructions to "apply to affected area three times a day"). (Id. ).

Beginning on January 24, 2013, Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Westchester County Jail (the "Jail"), in Valhalla, New York. (Am. Compl. 17 (noting an "admit date" of January 24, 2013)). The Jail is operated by Defendant Westchester County Department of Correction (the "County"). Defendant Correct Care Solutions, LLC ("Correct Care") provides medical care to prisoners at the Jail. ( See generally Am. Compl. 14-16, 19-24 (Correct Care forms from Plaintiff's records)).

When Plaintiff was processed for intake at the Jail, the Doxycycline and Bactroban were taken from him, along with his various other personal belongings. ( See Am. Compl.17). Plaintiff informed a correctional officer, an intake nurse (referred to in the Amended Complaint as "Jane Doe"), and a doctor on staff (referred to as "John Doe #1") that Plaintiff was on medication for MRSA. (Compl. 3; see Am. Compl. 3 ("[H]e informed staff of his infectious disease."); id. at 15 (staff referral form noting that Plaintiff had a "Hx [history of] Doxycycline"); Pl. Opp. 2 ("The intake nurse is Jane Doe[.] John Doe #1 [is] Corrections Care Doctor [who] denied Plaintiff his medication[.]")).[3] The doctor informed Plaintiff that he could no longer take the medications he had brought with him, but that Plaintiff would be prescribed new medications. ( See Am. Compl. 3; Pl. Opp. 2). No such medication was prescribed for Plaintiff's first two months at the Jail. (Am. Compl. 3).

On or about March 17, 2013, Plaintiff developed a large abscess on his leg. ( See Am. Compl. 3, 9, 20). The abscess was "very painful." (Id. at 3). In response to Plaintiff's complaint, a doctor performed a blood test, measured the size of the wound, and placed Plaintiff in quarantine for approximately one week. (Compl. 3; Am. Compl. 3). The diagnostic test results subsequently revealed that Plaintiff was infected with MRSA. (Am. Compl. 3). Accordingly, a doctor prescribed antibiotics and painkillers to Plaintiff, which he took for approximately three weeks. (Compl. 3). Although he was eventually treated for the infection, Plaintiff alleges he experienced "pain and suffering for at least 30 days." (Am. Compl. 3).

B. Procedural Background

On July 29, 2013, Plaintiff initiated the instant action against Defendants (Dkt. #2), seeking $1 million in damages to "pay for any further medical bills and also for pain and suffering" ( id. at 5). Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint, and on April 24, 2014, the Court granted Defendants' motion. Washington, 2014 WL 1778410, at *1.

The Court began by denying, without prejudice, Defendants' motion to dismiss on the grounds that Plaintiff had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, finding that this claim was an affirmative defense as to which discovery was needed. Washington, 2014 WL 1778410, at *5. The Court then proceeded to address Plaintiff's deliberate indifference claim by breaking it down into two time periods. The Court dismissed, with prejudice, Plaintiff's claim for deliberate indifference regarding the medical treatment he received on or about March 17, 2013, after concluding that "Plaintiff's allegations establish that Defendants responded expeditiously and appropriately to his MRSA infection; [and] additional allegations would not change this fact." Id. at *8. However, upon consideration of Plaintiff's pro se status, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to file an Amended Complaint with respect to his claim for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs upon intake in January 2013. Id. at *7.

The Court cautioned Plaintiff that only a more particularized pleading could cure the deficiencies in his Complaint. See Washington, 2014 WL 1778410, at *7. Specifically, the Court informed Plaintiff that an amended complaint capable of surviving a motion to dismiss would require

more details concerning (a) whether he was diagnosed with MRSA prior to his incarceration; (b) whether he was in pain or exhibited symptoms of a MRSA infection at the time of his arrest; (c) whether Defendants were aware that Plaintiff had MRSA and had symptoms of MRSA at the time of his incarceration; and (d) whether Defendants ignored such symptoms or deliberately withheld medication[.]

Id. [4] Finally, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's state-law claims of negligence against the County, citing Plaintiff's failure to comply with the notice of claim requirements of Section 50-e of the New York General Municipal Law. Id. at *9.

Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint on May 26, 2014. (Dkt. #31). The complaint began with several factual averments designed to respond to Defendants' failure to exhaust arguments. (Id. at 1-2, 9-11). Plaintiff then proceeded to allege facts concerning his pre-incarceration diagnosis with MRSA, his check-in at the Jail and concomitant surrender of medication, the Jail's failure to prescribe replacement medications for him, and his subsequent development of a wound in his leg. (Id. at 2-4, 9-11). Finally, Plaintiff attached various administrative and medical records relating to his incarceration at the Jail as exhibits ( id. at 5, 14-24), including a medical release form and an invoice of his personal property.[5]

Pursuant to the briefing schedule set by the Court (Dkt. #33), Defendants moved to dismiss on June 27, 2014 (Dkt. #34). Plaintiff filed his opposition on August 6, 2014 (Dkt. #41), and the motion was fully briefed as of the filing of Defendants' reply on August 28, 2014 (Dkt. #44).

In their motion papers, Defendants argue that the Amended Complaint should be dismissed (i) as to the individual defendants, because Plaintiff failed to allege their personal involvement in the alleged violation of his constitutional rights (Def. Br. 4-6); (ii) as to the County and Correct Care, because Plaintiff failed to allege an unconstitutional policy or practice ( id. at 6-7); and (iii) on the merits, because Plaintiff failed to allege a viable claim for deliberate indifference ( id. at 7-13). In his opposition, Plaintiff clarifies that the Jane and John Doe defendants were the intake nurse at the Jail and the doctor who denied and/or failed to replace his medication. (Pl. Opp. 1-2). In addition, Plaintiff includes a printout of ...

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