United States District Court, S.D. New York
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
B. DANIELS, United States District Judge
se Plaintiff Walley Quinones initially filed this action
against City of New York (the "City") and a CO.
[correction officer] "John Doe" (collectively,
"Defendants") on February 8, 2016. (Compl., ECF No.
1.) Plaintiff seeks $100 million in damages. (Id.
¶ 42.) He alleges that Defendants violated his
constitutional rights by depriving him of adequate medical care
at Bellevue Hospital ("Bellevue") while he was in
the custody of the New York City Department of Correction
("DOC") in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
(Id. ¶¶ 33-39.) Plaintiff alleges that a
laser lithotripsy and follow-up procedure resulted in the
insertion and unsuccessful removal of a long slender tool
into his urethra, (id. ¶ 23), causing chronic
urethral pain, urinary problems, sexual dysfunction, mental
anguish, and depression. (Id., at 12 ¶ 32 - 13
¶ 34.) Plaintiff alleges that these injuries resulted
from Correction Officer John Doe's decision to interrupt
his medical care pursuant to a City "policy" that
requires permission before an individual in DOC can receive
surgery, even in an emergency. (Pl's Opp. to Defs.'
Mot. to Dismiss ("Pl's Opp."), ECF No. 24, at
1-2); see also Pl's Sur-Reply, ECF No. 32, at
matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman on
February 11, 2016. (ECF No. 3.) Before this Court is
Magistrate Judge Freeman's Report and Recommendation,
("Report, " ECF No. 34), recommending that this
Court deny Defendants' motions to dismiss and deem
Plaintiffs Complaint amended to include supplemental
allegations contained in his opposition and sur-reply
submissions. (Id. at 26.) This Court is satisfied that
the Report contains no clear error of law and adopts the
Report in full.
Court may accept, reject or modify, in whole or in part, the
findings and recommendations set forth within the Report.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). When no
objections to a Report are made, the Court may adopt the
Report if "there is no clear error on the face of the
record." Adee Motor Cars, LLC v. Amato, 388
F.Supp.2d 250, 253 (S.D.N.Y.2005) (citation omitted).
pleadings of parties appearing pro se are generally
accorded leniency and should be construed "to raise the
strongest arguments that they suggest." See Belpasso
v. Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J., 400 F.App'x 600,
601 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting McPherson v. Coombe, 174
F.3d 276, 280 (2d Cir. 1999); see also Harris v.
Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) ("Even after
Twombly...we remain obligated to construe a pro
se complaint liberally."). This leniency is
especially true in the context of civil rights complaints.
See Gregory v. Daly, 243 F.3d 687, 691 (2d Cir.
2001) (noting that a court must be "mindful of the care
exercised in this Circuit to avoid hastily dismissing
complaints of civil rights violations.").
Judge Freeman advised the parties that failure to file timely
objections to the Report would constitute a waiver of those
objections on appeal. (Report, at 27); see also 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). As of the
date of this Order, no party has filed objections.
DELIBERATE-INDIFFERENCE CLAIM AGAINST JOHN DOE
first contend that Plaintiffs claim against Correction
Officer John Doe failed to establish a sufficiently serious
medical condition caused by Doe's conduct. (See
Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss ("Def.
Mem."), ECF No. 17, at 3-6.) According to Defendants,
Plaintiff only suffered a "transient moment" of
"excruciating pain" while the doctors at Bellevue
Hospital tried to remove a tool from his urethra. (See
Id. at 4.) Defendants further allege that this
"excruciating pain" cannot be associated with
Defendants' act or failure to act, as Doe was not present
during this time, and Plaintiff does not allege that the pain
continued while awaiting the follow-up procedure. (See
Id. at 4-5.)
outset, Plaintiffs Complaint plausibly articulates a
sufficiently serious medical condition by demonstrating that
he was experiencing extreme pain. Hill v. Curcione,
657 F.3d 116, 122 (2d Cir. 2011); see, e.g., White v.
Ulloa, No. 15cv8875, 2016 WL 7351895, at *4 (S.D.N.Y.
Dec. 19, 2016) (denying motion to dismiss
deliberate-indifference claim where plaintiff alleged that
defendant's deprivation of medical care caused an
infection and swelling "so painful that it was difficult
or impossible for [him] to sleep during the three weeks he
was not treated"); Rivera v. Goord, 119
F.Supp.2d 327, 332, 337 (S.D.N.Y. 2000) (finding allegations
of deprivation of pain medication for "severe, "
"unbearable, " and "great" pain to be
sufficient at the pleading stage where the side effects
included migraine headaches, infections, severe burning in
his eyes, impaired vision, and partial loss of hearing).
Plaintiffs Complaint similarly alleges excrutiating pain,
bleeding, and urination from the stent remaining in his
urethra. (Compl. ¶ 23-30.) There is no support found in
Plaintiffs Complaint for Defendants' characterization
that this pain was merely a "transient moment"
lasting only during the procedure. (See Def Mem., at
5.) Rather, Plaintiff alleges that he screamed in pain in
front of Doe after the initial surgery occurred. (Pl's
Sur-Reply, at 1-2 ("the CO. was there[, ] [and] saw me
and heard me").) While this information was not
initially in Plaintiffs Complaint, "where a pro
se plaintiff has submitted other papers to the [c]ourt,
such as legal memoranda, the [c]ourt may consider statements
in such papers to supplement or clarify the plaintiffs
pleaded allegations."). Sommersett v. City of New
York, No. 09cv5916, 2011 WL 2565301, at *3 (S.D.N.Y.
June 28, 2011).
Plaintiffs Complaint articulates a plausible connection
between Defendants' conduct and Plaintiffs extreme pain,
as Plaintiff contends that Defendants' decision to
interrupt his care to seek approval for treatment caused the
injuries underlying his claims. (Pl's Sur-Reply, at 1.)
See, e.g., Jones v. Westchester Cty. Dep't of Corr.
Med. Dep't, 557 F.Supp.2d 408, 415 (S.D.N.Y. 2008)
(finding it plausible that prison officials' refusal to
allow plaintiff to undergo surgery "caused [plaintiff]
to suffer, or at least exacerbated, a 'serious medical
condition'"); cf Law v. Corizon Med. Serv.,
No. 134cv5286, 2014 WL 2111675, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. May 9, 2014)
(noting that, where the basis of a plaintiffs
deliberate-indifference claim is a "temporary delay or
interruption in the provision of otherwise adequate medical
treatment, it is appropriate to focus on the challenged delay
or interruption in treatment rather than the prisoner's
underlying medical condition alone" (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted)). Therefore, irrespective of
whether Doe originally caused Plaintiffs harm, an
interruption in medical treatment can plausibly prolong or
add to the injuries suffered. (See Report, at 16.)
argue that even if this Court finds that Plaintiffs Complaint
satisfies the first element of deliberate-indifference,
Plaintiff fails to establish the second element: that
Defendant acted with a "sufficiently culpable state of
mind" in depriving Plaintiff of medical treatment.
(See Def. Mem., at 5.) Defendants contend that
Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged any statement or
explanation purporting to demonstrate Doe's motives for
preventing the follow-up procedure. (Id.) However,
Plaintiff plausibly articulates Defendants' culpable
state of mind by alleging that Defendant: (1) heard his
screams as he was bleeding, (Pl's Sur-Reply, at 1-2); (2)
was told by a doctor that the situation was an emergency,
(Pl's Opp., at 1); (3) was told that "they had to
correct the problem immediately, " (Pl's Sur-Reply,
at 1); and (4) Defendant "did not care." (Pl's
Opp., at 1.) Instead, Defendant acted to prevent the surgery
from occurring promptly. With allegations that Defendant
possessed this information, Plaintiffs Complaint plausibly
alleges that Doe acted knowingly in depriving Plaintiff of
necessary medical treatment. (Report, at 19.)
early pleading stage, Plaintiffs claim supports a plausible
inference of cruel and unusual punishment in violation of his
constitutional rights. Accordingly, this Court accepts
Magistrate Judge Freeman's recommendations that
Plaintiffs Complaint be deemed to include allegations from
the opposition and sur-reply, and that Defendants' motion
to dismiss against the John Doe Correction Officer be denied.
(Id. at 20.)