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Sankara v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

February 22, 2018

THE CITY OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants.

          Ahmadou Sankara Rome, New York Pro se Plaintiff

          Tucker Christian Kramer Laura Anne Delvecchio Austa Starr Devlin Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach, LLP New York, New York Counsel for Defendants

          OPINION & ORDER

          VERNON S. BRODERICK, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Ahmadou Sankara brings this action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Deborah Mateo (“Mateo”), a medical professional at the Vernon C. Bain Center (“VCBC”), and the City of New York (the “City, ” and together with Mateo, “Defendants”), alleging that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs.[1] Before me is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff s Fifth Amended Complaint or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. (Doc. 68.) Because Plaintiffs allegations related to Mateo are insufficient to state a claim of deliberate indifference, and Plaintiff fails to allege that his injuries were the result of a municipal policy, custom, or practice, Defendants' motion to dismiss is GRANTED.

         Although Plaintiffs Fifth Amended Complaint could be read to allege claims of medical malpractice and negligence under New York law, I am dismissing all of the federal claims before me and to the extent that Plaintiffs claims could be read to assert state law claims they are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         I. Background [2]

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Mohawk Correctional Facility in Rome, New York. (Doc. 46.) As of at least July 10, 2014, Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at VCBC, a detention center located in the Bronx, New York. (Fifth Am. Compl. 2.)[3] Prior to being placed in his designated housing unit at VCBC, Plaintiff was subjected to a medical examination. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff informed the medical staff that he was originally from Africa, that he had been in the United States since 2001, and that he was taking medication for HIV. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that during the examination he was misdiagnosed with tuberculosis and hepatitis B. (Id. at 2-5.) As a result, Plaintiff alleges that he was forced to take two different medications: an injection for hepatitis B and INH for tuberculosis. (Id.) Plaintiff was told he would not be placed in the VCBC general population unless he took the medications. (Id.) Plaintiff asserts that Mateo, who he claims is an unlicensed medical doctor, prescribed him the medications. (Id. at 4.) With regard to the John Doe Captain, Plaintiff merely states that he “escort[ed] me every day to the medical [ward].” (Id. at 2, 7.) Plaintiff claims that the medications caused him to repeatedly throw up blood, leading to numerous visits to the medical ward, and liver damage. (Id. at 2-5.) Plaintiff was eventually taken to Bellevue Hospital where he was given “a gallon of water medicine, ” and examined by hospital staff who inspected the inside of his stomach with a camera. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff asserts that the staff at Bellevue Hospital told him not to take the medication he was given at VCBC in the future. (Id. at 3-4.)

         II. Procedural History

         Plaintiff commenced this action on September 1, 2015 by filing a Complaint that named VCBC and a doctor employed by VCBC as defendants but that contained no factual background or allegations. (Doc. 2.) On September 25, 2015, Chief Judge Loretta Preska, to whom this case was previously assigned, granted Plaintiff leave to amend his Complaint. (Doc. 6.) On October 2, 2015, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint that apparently concerned allegations related to another pro se action brought by Plaintiff in this Court. (Doc. 7.) On November 23, 2015, Judge Preska granted Plaintiff leave to amend his Amended Complaint. (Doc. 9.) On December 22, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint against VCBC and a John Doe doctor alleging that in July 2014 he was given medications that caused him liver damage. (Doc. 10.)

         On March 4, 2016 this case was reassigned to me. On March 7, 2016, I dismissed the claims against VCBC and ordered the City of New York to be named in its place. (Doc. 14.) I also directed the New York City Department of Corrections to identify the John Doe defendant, and directed Plaintiff to file a third amended complaint naming the John Doe defendant. (Id.)

         On March 25, 2016, Plaintiff filed his Third Amended Complaint naming The City of New York and a John Doe doctor as defendants and alleging that he received medications that caused him liver damage and required treatment at Bellevue Hospital. (Doc. 18.)

         On May 4, 2016, counsel for the City of New York indicated that they were unable to identify the John Doe physician named in the Second Amended Complaint. (Doc. 22.) As a result, I directed the City of New York to send Plaintiff a copy of his medical files, and directed Plaintiff to submit a letter providing any additional information that might assist the City with identifying the John Doe defendant. (Doc. 23.) On May 13, 2016, counsel for the City sent Plaintiff a copy of his 2014 medical files. (Doc. 27.)

         On May 23 and June 13, 2016, Plaintiff submitted applications to me requesting pro bono counsel, (Docs. 24, 28), which I denied without prejudice on May 25 and June 15, 2016, respectively, (Docs. 26, 29).

         On July 22, 2016, I again ordered Plaintiff to review the medical files provided by the City, and to file a letter providing additional identifying information regarding the John Doe defendant. (Doc. 32.) In a letter dated August 24, 2016, Plaintiff identified the John Doe defendant as Mateo. (Doc. 34.) On October 24, 2016, pursuant to my March 7 Order, I directed Plaintiff to file a fourth amended complaint naming Mateo as a defendant. (Doc. 39.) On November 14, 2016, Plaintiff filed his Fourth Amended Complaint against Mateo and the City of New York, and adding “D.O.C. Captain John Doe” as a defendant. (Doc. 41.)

         On February 15, 2017, Defendants filed a letter seeking permission to move to dismiss Plaintiff's claims, (Doc. 56), which Plaintiff opposed on February 22, (Doc. 59). I held a pre-motion conference on April 28, 2017, during which Plaintiff indicated that there were additional facts not alleged in his Fourth Amended Complaint that supported his claim of deliberate indifference. (Doc. 81.) Following the conference, I granted Plaintiff s request to amend his Fourth Amended Complaint prior to the filing of Defendants' motion to dismiss. (Doc. 61.) Plaintiff filed his Fifth Amended Complaint on May 30, 2017, again naming Mateo, D.O.C. Captain John Doe, and the City of New York as defendants.[4] (Doc. 65.) On June 20, 2017, counsel for Defendants submitted a letter requesting a one week extension of time to file their motion to dismiss, (Doc. 66), which I granted, (Doc. 67).

         On June 28, 2017, Defendants filed their motion to dismiss, (Doc. 68), along with the declaration of Tucker C. Kramer with exhibits, (Doc. 69), and memorandum of law in support, (Doc. 70). On July 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion. (Doc. 72.) On August 25, 2017, Defendants filed their reply, (Doc. 76), and the reply declaration of Tucker C. Kramer with exhibits, (Doc. 80), at which point the motion was fully briefed.

         III. ...

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