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Robinson v. Clark

United States District Court, S.D. New York

February 27, 2017


          William Robinson, Jr. Attica, NY Pro Se Plaintiff.

          Kristen R. Vogel, Esq., New York Office of the Attorney General New York, NY Counsel for Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER


         Pro se Plaintiff William Robinson, Jr. (“Plaintiff”) brings this Action against Dr. Morris Clark (“Dr. Clark”), Dawn Osselmann (“Nurse Osselmann”), Dr. Eric Davis (“Dr. Davis”), Superintendent Thomas Griffin (“Superintendent Griffin”), Dr. Frederick Bernstein (“Dr. Bernstein”), and Dr. Gail Bailey-Wallace (“Dr. Wallace” and collectively, “Defendants”).[1] Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment by failing to provide adequate medical treatment for a shoulder injury. (See generally Compl. (Dkt. No. 2).) Defendants have filed a Motion To Dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (the “Motion”). (Dkt. No. 23.) For the reasons stated below, the Motion is granted.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         The following facts are taken from the Complaint and the documents appended thereto, and are taken as true for purposes of the Motion.

         Plaintiff alleges that while he was incarcerated at the Green Haven Correctional Facility (“Green Haven”), he injured his right shoulder on April 19, 2015, during a football game. (Compl. ¶ IV.1.) He was rushed to emergency sick call and placed on a medical “telecam” call to an outside hospital. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he was in “severe” pain and a bone was protruding from his shoulder. (Id.) On April 20, 2015, Plaintiff's shoulder was x-rayed. The x-rays revealed that Plaintiff's shoulder was separated from all three tendons. (Id.) Plaintiff was given an arm sling, 40mg ibuprofen packets, and a medical excuse/permit for the arm sling from April 20, 2015 until May 20, 2015. (Id.) Plaintiff was given 40mg ibuprofen packets despite a nurse from the hospital allegedly advising Defendants to give him 800mg of ibuprofen. (Id.) On April 27, 2015, Plaintiff again complained of severe pain and received additional x-rays. (Id.)

         On May 6, 2015, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Clark. (Id.)[2] Plaintiff reported “extreme” pain and lack of mobility in his arm and shoulder. (Id.) Dr. Clark allegedly told Plaintiff that “there was no positive damage and that Plaintiff only banged his shoulder pretty good. And that it should heal itself in a short period of time if left in [the] prescribed arm sling.” (Id. ¶ IV.2.) Plaintiff notes that he constantly complained of “extreme pain” and “clicking sounds” coming from his shoulder in facility sick call slips. (Id.) To help relieve this pain, Plaintiff was given “(6) 40mg 2 packets of ibuprofen” and analgesic balm. (Id.)

         Plaintiff filed a grievance with the Green Haven Inmate Grievance Committee (“IGRC”) regarding his shoulder injury on August 5, 2015, claiming that he received inadequate medical care and making a “FOIL request” for his medical records. (Id. at ECF 11.)[3] Nurse Osselmann allegedly filed a fabricated memorandum with the IGRC, stating that Plaintiff reinjured his shoulder “to cover up” how Plaintiff's shoulder had been in the same condition since April 25, when Plaintiff complained of extreme pain. (Id. ¶ IV.4.) The memorandum notes that Plaintiff reinjured his shoulder during an incident in the mess hall on August 3, (id. at ECF 14), where a gas leak forced inmates and staff to “trample one another” to escape the room, (id. ¶ IV.2).

         Plaintiff was again seen by Dr. Clark on the same day he filed his grievance. Dr. Clark represcribed the use of an arm sling and gave Plaintiff packets of ibuprofen. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he was still in “extreme” pain at this time. (Id.)

         On September 10, 2015, Plaintiff was seen by orthopedic specialist Jonathan Holder (“Dr. Holder”). Dr. Holder recommended reconstructive surgery on Plaintiff's shoulder. Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Holder found that an immediate shoulder repair was necessary and expressed concern over the length of the delay in repairing it. (Id.) Dr. Holder attempted to schedule the reconstructive surgery, but was denied by Drs. Bailey-Wallace and Bernstein. (Id.) On September 25, 2015, Dr. Clark informed Plaintiff that his shoulder surgery was approved. (Id. at ECF 6.)

         On October 5, 2015, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Davis for a check-up. (Id. ¶ IV.3.) Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Davis did not give him anything to cope with the “sharp pains” he felt in his shoulder. (Id.)

         The next day, Superintendent Griffin denied Plaintiff's appeal from the IGRC's decision. (Id. at ECF 12.)[4] Superintended Griffin noted that Plaintiff reinjured his shoulder on August 3, 2015, that treatment was ongoing, and that Plaintiff should make a formal FOIL request to receive his medical records. (Id.)

         On October 11, 2015, Plaintiff sent separate letters to Dr. Bernstein, Dr. Clark, and Superintendent Griffin. (Id. at ECF 8-10.) The letters explain that the ibuprofen packets that Plaintiff received from sick call and Dr. Clark were ineffective and request stronger pain medication. (Id.) Dr. Bernstein responded to the letter he received, directing Plaintiff to attend sick call or schedule an appointment with his primary care provider to discuss his pain management concerns. (Id. at ECF 13.) It is unclear from the record whether Dr. Clark or Superintendent Griffin responded to Plaintiff's letters.

         Plaintiff appealed Superintendent Griffin's response to his grievance to the Central Office Review Committee (“CORC”) on October 16, 2015, arguing that he did not reinjure his arm on August 3. (Id. at ECF 12.) The CORC issued its determination on December 30, 2015. (See Decl. of Jeffrey Hale in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. To Dismiss (“Hale Decl.”) Ex. B, at 1 (Dkt. No. 25).)[5] It noted that Plaintiff had shoulder surgery on December 15, 2015. (Id.)

         Plaintiff contends that Drs. Clark, Bernstein, Bailey-Wallace, Davis, Nurse Osselmann, and Superintendent Griffin all had knowledge that he was in “extreme pain.” (Compl. ¶ IV.3.) Defendants allegedly ignored his complaints of pain and “act[ed] with deliberate indifference to [his] medical condition.” (Id.) Plaintiff claims that Defendants acted with a mental state “more blameworthy than negligence, ” (id.), because they knowingly disregarded an excessive risk to his health and chose a less efficacious treatment plan, i.e., Defendants “unreasonably delayed surgery, ” (id. ¶ V), and refused to give him stronger pain relief medication, (id. ¶¶ IV.3-4).

         B. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on October 26, 2015. (Dkt. No. 2.) Pursuant to a memo endorsement, (Dkt. No. 22), Defendants filed their Motion and accompanying papers on June 16, 2016, (Dkt. Nos. 23-27). Plaintiff's opposition papers were originally due on July 16, 2016. (See Dkt. No. 22.) The schedule was later amended such that Plaintiff's opposition papers were due October 17, 2016 because it was possible that Plaintiff did not receive Defendants' papers when they were first served. (Dkt. No. 32.) On October 11, 2016, Plaintiff was granted an additional 30 days to respond. (Dkt. No. 34.) On December 19, 2016, Plaintiff was given one final extension until January 20, 2017. (Dkt. No. 38.) On January 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed a letter stating that he received the December 19, 2016 Order on January 20, 2017, but is ready to “proceed with his response.” (Dkt. No. 39.) The Court received Plaintiff's response on February 14, 2017. The submission consists of Plaintiff's medical records and copies of filings that have been made throughout the course of this Action. In lieu of filing a reply brief, Defendants submitted a letter stating that the Motion should be granted for the reasons set forth in their moving papers. (Dkt. No. 40.)

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         The Supreme Court has held that although a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations” to survive a motion to dismiss, “a plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his [or her] ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (second alteration in original) (citations omitted). Instead, the Supreme Court has emphasized that “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ” id., and that “once a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint, ” id. at 563. A plaintiff must allege “only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. But if a plaintiff has “not nudged [his or her] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, the[] complaint must be dismissed.” Id.; see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009) (‚ÄúDetermining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its ...

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