United States District Court, W.D. New York
BENJAMIN T. REED, Plaintiff,
MAGGIE GROSSO, ROBIN DOWNS, DR. SO-HAIL GILLANI, LACEY HASTREITER, DR. KAL-YANA BATTU, KYLEE CRISCIONE, and JOHN AND JANE DOE NOS. 1-8, Defendants.
Plaintiff: Bradley Kammholz, Esq. pro bono Kammholz Messina
Defendants: Gary M. Levine, A.A.G. State of New York Attorney
DECISION AND ORDER
CHARLES J. SIRAGUSA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
bono plaintiff's counsel filed a comprehensive amended
complaint in this prisoner civil rights case alleging,
inter alia, deliberate indifference to serious
mental health needs. Amended Compl., Jul. 5, 2017, ECF No.
53. Now before the Court is Defendants' motion to
dismiss, filed August 17, 2017, ECF No. 54. The Court has
reviewed the papers submitted in support of, and in
opposition to, the motion, and heard oral argument. For the
reasons stated below, the Court grants Defendants'
application and dismisses the case.
Court appointed pro bono counsel on October 5, 2016. Order,
ECF No. 42 (Hon. Jonathan W. Feldman, USMJ). Counsel
undertook an extensive review of the records of medical
treatment and filed an all-inclusive amended complaint, which
Defendants now seek to have dismissed. For the purposes of
analyzing the motion, the Court assumes that the allegations
in the amended complaint are true. That document details the
history of Plaintiff, who has a documented record of
self-harm throughout various transfers within the Department
of Community and Correctional Services ("DOCCS")
from one prison to another, with extensive stays in each
prison's Residential Crisis Treatment Program
relevant history begins with a January 23, 2001, screening by
the New York Office of Mental Health at the Mohawk Valley
Psychiatric Center during his first incarceration with DOCCS.
In the course of questioning, Plaintiff reported that he had
been diagnosed in May 2000 with paranoid schizophrenia and
that, as a result, had been hospitalized at Four Winds Mental
Health Hospital. Amended Compl. ¶ 10. The next screening
took place in early November 2006 at the Groveland
Correctional Mental Health Unit, where it was noted that
Plaintiff might need treatment for anxiety, mild depression
adjustment disorder and life circumstance problems. Amended
Compl. ¶ 11. Plaintiff has also indicated that he had
been admitted to the Richmond, Virginia, Community Hospital
"for making serious threats against his family, "
for being "hyper-religious, " and for
"aggression, " and that he had a childhood history
of cutting himself. Id. ¶ 11.
began a second incarceration with DOCCS in early April 2011.
Id. ¶ 12. He was then screened at Elmira
Correctional Facility where the records noted that he had a
history of psychosis. Id. ¶ 13. He received
further screenings in 2011, and on July 19, 2011, a progress
note included information that Plaintiff had "a history
of cutting himself with knives on his arms starting from
about age 10, and that he had cut himself 20-30 times, with
the last time being in 2004." Id. ¶ 15.
April 2013, his condition worsened and he was downgraded to
mental health service level 1 (indicating a major or serious
mental illness with active symptoms requiring treatment and
not having six months of psychiatric stability). Id.
16. He was subsequently upgraded to level 3, but later
downgraded again to level 1, and transferred in mid-July 2013
from Groveland Correctional Facility ("Groveland")
to Mid-State ("Mid-State") Correctional Facility
because Groveland could not handle a level 1 inmate.
end of September 2013, Plaintiff "was admitted to the
Central New York Psychiatric Center Mid-State Correctional
Facility (Residential Crisis Treatment Program) Observation
Cells after banging his head against a wall and threatening
to hurt himself and others, while he was being taken to the
Special Housing Unit ('SHU') for solitary
confinement." Amended Compl. ¶ 20. Because of
threats against staff, he was reclassified as requiring
maximum security and, consequently, transferred to Auburn
Correctional Facility ("Auburn") in late October
at Auburn, Plaintiff received further mental health
evaluations and a diagnosis of "adjustment disorder with
mixed anxiety and depression, rule out schizophrenia, bipolar
disorder, and anti-social personality disorder."
Id. ¶24. In early January 2014, he was released
from SHU and put into the general population at Auburn. Two
days later, he cut his left arm multiple times with his
razor. Id. ¶ 26. He was admitted to
Auburn's infirmary with a one-on-one watch. Amended
Compl. ¶ 27. Defendant Maggie Grosso
("Grosso"), a licensed social worker or mental
health professional employed by either DOCCS or the New York
State Office of Mental Health at Auburn, or both, interviewed
Plaintiff, who told her that everyone wanted to kill him and
he planned to cut himself enough to bleed to death. He also
stated he had received "kites" containing death
threats. Id. ¶ 28. In a later interview,
Plaintiff told Grosso he needed protective custody
"because of a problem with a 'high ranking Blood
(gang) member' threatening him in SHU." Amended
Compl. ¶29. Grosso noted Plaintiff would be transferred
to an RCTP bed as soon as one became available.
discharged in mid-January 2014 from the RCTP into the
infirmary while waiting for a bed in protective custody to
open up. Id. ¶ 31. Two weeks later, he was
readmitted to Auburn's RCTP. He was having a problem with
another inmate in protective custody and was refusing
medication. He complained that he was hearing a
"thing" whispering to him, "a negative
esoteric entity" he could not "turn off."
Id. ¶ 32.
about February 4, 2014, Grosso interviewed Plaintiff again.
He told her that he "tried to play the
psychiatrist" and that he "told him he was going to
kill everybody" saying, "I pulled a stunt because I
need to get my cell moved." Id. ¶ 33. The
next day, he was transferred to Auburn's SHU in
compliance with his desire for isolation. Id. ¶
34. He was receiving psychological therapy in May and June.
Id. ¶¶ 35-38.
of his paranoid behavior, the DOCCS security team at Auburn
referred Plaintiff for mental health screening. On July 11,
and July 14, family members called the prison expressing
concern about his misdiagnosis of adjustment disorder,
anxiety, and depression. Plaintiff's therapist conducted
a screening interview on July 23, 2014, and noted that
Plaintiff was "thinking about cutting my arms again
sometimes." Amended Compl. ¶40.
was readmitted to RCTP on August 14, 2014, based upon his
threats to harm himself. Id. ¶ 41. On October 6
and 7, 2014, he was transferred from Auburn's SHU to
Clinton Correctional Facility ("Clinton"), where he
entered the general population. Id. ¶ 42. A few
days later, on October 11, 2014, he cut himself 30 times with
a razor, each cut from one inch to one and one quarter inch
in length. Id. ¶43. He was admitted to
Clinton's infirmary for observation, as Clinton had
"no actual CNYPC [sic] Observation Room available."
Id. ¶ 44. He was "discharged from RCTP
Observation Room" on October 20, 2014, and moved to
protective custody at Clinton. Id. ¶ 46. He was
readmitted to RCTP on four more occasions, and returned to
protective custody. Id. ¶¶ 47-50. On or
about May 1, 2015, he was informed that he was going to be
transferred to Attica Correctional Facility ("Attica).
Id. ¶ 51. On the same day, he "was
readmitted to Clinton's RCTP Observation Unit because of
threats of self-harm, paranoid delusions, tying his cell bars
together, and seeing demons." Id. ¶ 52.
alleges that on May 7, 2015, he was transferred from the RCTP
directly to Attica and was "mentally unstable" and
"critically in need of a continuum of mental health
care." Id. ¶ 58. He further alleges that
Defendants Robin Downs ("Downs"), Sohail Gillani
(Gillani"), and/or John and Jane Doe Nos. 1-8 were aware
of his mental instability and "critical need of a
continuum of mental health care." Id. ¶
59. En route to Attica, Plaintiff spent time at Downstate
Correctional Facility ("Downstate") where he
threatened to harm himself and, ...