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Zhang v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 28, 2018

MAN ZHANG and CHUNMAN ZHANG, individually, and as ADMINISTRATORS of the estate of ZHIQUAN ZHANG, deceased, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, RIKERS ISLAND FACILITIES, NEW YORK CITY HEALTH AND HOSPITALS CORPORATION, CORIZON HEALTH, INC., BILL DE BLAISO, individually, and as MAYOR OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, JOSEPH PONTE, individually, and as then COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, RAM RAJU, individually, and as then PRESIDENT OF NEW YORK CITY HEALTH AND HOSPITALS CORPORATION, PATSY YANG, individually, and as NEW YORK CITY HEALTH AND HOSPITALS CORPORATION'S SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR CORRECTIONAL HEALTH SERVICES, KAREY WITTY, individually, and as CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF CORIZON HEALTH, INC., NEW YORK CITY CORRECTION OFFICERS, “JOHN AND JANE DOES 1-10”, in their individual and official capacities, NEW YORK CITY HEALTH AND HOSPITALS CORPORATION EMPLOYEES AND AGENTS, “JOHN AND JANE DOEES 11-20”, in their individual and official capacities, CORIZON HEALTH, INC. EMPLOYEES AND AGENTS, “JOHN AND JANE DOES 21-30”, in their individual and official capacities, Defendants.

          FOR PLAINTIFFS David Yan LAW OFFICES OF DAVID YAN

          FOR DEFENDANTS Daniel Gerard May Joseph Schmulewitz Laura Anne Delvecchio Ryan Michael Cleary Tucker Christian Kramer HEIDELL, PITTONI, MURPHY & BACH, LLP

          OPINION & ORDER

          JOHN F. KEENAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE:

         Plaintiffs Man Zhang, and Chunman Zhang (both surviving sons of Mr. Zhang) and the Administrators of decedent Zhiquan Zhang's (“Mr. Zhang”) estate (collectively, the “Plaintiffs”) bring this action alleging that Defendants the City of New York; the New York City Department of Correction; Rikers Island Facilities; New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (“NYCHHC”); Corizon Health, Inc. (“Corizon”); Bill de Blasio (“Mayor de Blasio”); Joseph Ponte (“Mr. Ponte”); Ram Raju (“Dr. Raju”); Patsy Yang (“Dr. Yang”); Karey Witty (“Mr. Witty”); New York City Corrections Officers John and Janes Does 1-10; New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation Employees and Agents John and Jane Does 11-20; and Corizon Health, Inc. Employees and Agents John and Jane Does 21-30 (collectively, the “Defendants”) are liable for Mr. Zhang's death while he was a pretrial detainee at Rikers Island prison. Plaintiffs allege that Mr. Zhang died as a result of inadequate medical care during his year at the prison. Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         The following facts and allegations are taken from the complaint. On April 18, 2015, following his arrest on unspecified charges, Mr. Zhang was detained at Rikers Island prison to await trial. (Compl. ¶ 67.) On the same day, during a routine medical examination, employees and agents of NYCHHC found Mr. Zhang had hypertension-a condition he had suffered for years prior and for which he already took medication-and coronary heart disease. (Id. ¶¶ 68, 69.) The NYCHHC agents and employees prescribed Mr. Zhang Norvasc and Ibuprofen to treat his hypertension. (Id. ¶ 69.)

         After this treatment, Mr. Zhang complained of chest pain to Defendants New York City Corrections Officers “John and Jane Does 1-10” (“NYCCO Does 1-10”), who did not respond. (Id. ¶ 70.) When New York City Health and Hospital Corporation Employees and Agents “John and Jane Does 11-20” (“NYCHHC Does 11-20”) “and/or” Corizon Health Inc. Employees and Agents “John and Jane Does 21- 30” (“Corizon Does 21-30”)[1] visited Rikers Island, they prescribed Mr. Zhang Norvasc again, but did not take “appropriate” medical steps to treat his chest pains. (Id.)

         On June 9, 2015, Mr. Zhang complained of chest pain to NYCCO Does 1-10, who called medical emergency services. (Id. ¶ 71.) NYCHHC Does 11-20 “and/or” Corizon Does 21-30 responded to the emergency call, at which point Mr. Zhang told them he had been experiencing pain in the left side of his chest from front to back for the last four days. (Id. ¶ 71) Mr. Zhang was transferred to unspecified Defendants' clinic where he was provided with costochondritis treatment and Ibuprofen to relieve the pain. (Id.) Mr. Zhang received no other treatment. (Id.)

         On June 10, 2015-the day after his initial complaint and treatment-Mr. Zhang was seen by unspecified Defendants' staff at Defendants' clinic where he was provided with Ibuprofen for lumbago, Zocor for hyperlipidemia, and Norvasc for hypertension. (Id. ¶ 72.) Mr. Zhang received no other treatment. (Id.)

         On unspecified dates, between June 10, 2015 and July 6, 2015, [2] Mr. Zhang continued to complain to NYCCO Does 1-10 about his chest and lower back pain. (Id. ¶ 73.)

         On July 6, 2015, NYCHHC Does 11-20 “and/or” Corizon Does 21-30 visited Mr. Zhang at Rikers Island in response to his complaints of chest and lower back pain. (Id. ¶ 74.) They provided him with Naprosyn for lumbago, but administered no other “check ups” or treatment. (Id.) Mr. Zhang continued to complain to unspecified Defendants about chest pain. (Id. ¶ 75.)

         On September 5, 2015 at 9:45 a.m., NYCHHC Does 11-20 “and/or” Corizon Does 21-30 responded to Mr. Zhang's emergency call. (Id. ¶ 76.) Through a fellow inmate who spoke Chinese, [3]Mr. Zhang explained that he had been experiencing chest pain since the previous day, “that he would feel more pain when he was not pressing his chest wall, ” and “that he would not feel more pain when he pressed his chest wall.” (Id.) NYCHHC Does 11-20 “and/or” Corizon Does 21-30 brought Mr. Zhang to “the clinic” where they gave him Aspirin and Nitrostat for his chest pain. (Id.) At 10:40 a.m., after the treatment had no effect, NYCHHC Does 11-20 “and/or” Corizon Does 21-30 handed Mr. Zhang over to EMS who gave him Ibuprofen despite Mr. Zhang's complaints of constant pain at level 4 of 10. (Id.) Mr. Zhang “was not allowed to be hospitalized.” (Id.)

         On September 7, 2015, Mr. Zhang was brought back to unspecified Defendants' clinic for a follow up regarding his chest pain. (Id. ¶ 77.) There, Mr. Zhang was provided with sarna lotion for xerosis cutis and Norvasc for hypertension. (Id.) NYCHHC Does 11-20 “and/or” Corizon Does 21-30 claimed that Mr. Zhang “denied chest pain, sob, numbness, tingling, paresthesia, or any other problem”[4] and decided that no further treatment was needed for Mr. Zhang's chest pain. (Id.) They provided him with “no other check ups or treatment.” (Id.)

         On September 13, 2015, Mr. Zhang complained that he felt lightheaded and dizzy. (Id. ¶ 78.) At unspecified Defendants' clinic, unspecified Defendants gave him Norvasc for hypertension and Meclizine CI and Hydrochlorothiazine for vertigo NOS. (Id.) Unspecified Defendants provided him with no other check up or treatment. (Id.) NYCHHC Does 11-20 “and/or” Corizon Does 21-30 failed to diagnose Mr. Zhang's chest pain and connect his chest pain with possible seizures and cardiac arrest. (Id.)

         On October 20, 2015, Mr. Zhang underwent a routine medical examination during which NYCHHC Does 11-20 “and/or” Corizon Does 21-30 examined his heart. (Id. ¶ 79.) NYCHHC Does 11-20 “and/or” Corizon Does 21-30 “failed to inquire, examine, and note Mr. Zhang's chest pain, ” despite his medical history. (Id.)

         On November 12, 2015, NYCHHC Does 11-20 “and/or” Corizon Does 21-30 collected a sample from Mr. Zhang “for lipid screen for coronary risk.” (Id. ¶ 80.) On November 13, 2015, NYCHHC Does 11-20 “and/or” Corizon Does 21-30 reviewed the lipid screen results with Mr. Zhang but again “failed to inquire, examine, and note Mr. Zhang's chest pain.” (Id. ¶ 81.) They also failed to diagnose Mr. Zhang's chest pain and connect his chest pain with possible seizures and cardiac arrest. (Id.)

         Starting in December 2015, Mr. Zhang's chest pain would cause him to wake up in the middle of the night, waking other inmates with his “moaning, grunting and groaning.” (Id. ¶ 82.)

         On January 14, 2016, NYCHHC Does 11-20 “and/or” Corizon Does 21-30 visited Mr. Zhang in response to a sick call. (Id. ¶ 83.) They provided him with the same prescriptions for hypertension and hyperlipidemia, but provided him with no treatment for chest pain. (Id.)

         At unspecified times in February 2016, Mr. Zhang's fellow inmates noticed his chest and left shoulder pain was becoming increasingly severe compared to his pain in January. (Id. ¶ 85.)

         On February 15, 2016, NYCHHC Does 11-20 “and/or” Corizon Does 21-30 visited Mr. Zhang in response to complaints that his left shoulder pain had lasted more than four weeks. (Id. ¶ 84.) After they found Mr. Zhang “had painful limitation in raising his left upper extremity above the left shoulder level, ” they provided Mr. Zhang with Ibuprofen, Motrin, and Robaxin and referred him to physical therapy. (Id.)

         On February 22, 2016, NYCHHC Does 11-20 “and/or” Corizon Does 21-30 responded to Mr. Zhang's emergency call concerning his left shoulder pain. (Id. ¶ 86.) Mr. Zhang denied that he had suffered any trauma, injury, or accident which might have caused the pain. (Id.) NYCHHC Does 11-20 “and/or” Corizon Does 21-30 erroneously recorded the pain as “left hand pain.” (Id.) NYCHHC Does 11-20 “and/or” Corizon Does 21-30 did not review Mr. Zhang's medical history and “erroneously” referred him to physical therapy. (Id.)

         Starting sometime in March 2016, Mr. Zhang would wake up during the night screaming and yelling about his shoulder and chest pain loudly enough to wake fellow inmates. (Id. ¶ 87.) NYCCO Does 1-10 ignored Mr. Zhang's pleas to go to the emergency room to treat his pain. (Id.)

         In early March 2016, Mr. Zhang's fellow inmate called “the Plaintiffs and [Mr. Zhang's] family” to inform them that Mr. Zhang had severe shoulder and chest pain that stopped him from sleeping. (Id. ¶ 88.) The inmate asked them to contact the prison to have Mr. Zhang transferred to a hospital. (Id.)

         Sometime in March 2016, Mr. Zhang talked to the “Plaintiffs and [his] family” and told them that when he experienced pain, corrections officers would not let him go to see a doctor without an appointment, however, appointments had to be requested in advance and required a long waiting period. (Id. ¶ 89.) Mr. Zhang explained he was only given painkillers when he was brought to the clinic, even though he had told the staff his pain was severe. (Id. ¶ 90.) Mr. Zhang further advised his family against contacting the prison as he believed such efforts would be futile. (Id.)

         On March 8, 2016, Mr. Zhang complained of shoulder pain which Plaintiffs allege was misdiagnosed “as mild degenerative disease of shoulder bursitis/tendonitis.” (Id. ¶ 91.) Though Mr. Zhang was referred to physical therapy, he refused it, apparently, as he knew his pain was not related to his shoulder's physical condition. (Id.)

         On March 10, 2016, Mr. Zhang was referred to Christina Pillora, PT (“Ms. Pillora”)-an employee or agent of NYCHHC “and/or” Corizon-for physical therapy for his left shoulder pain. (Id. ¶ 93.) Ms. Pillora noted that Mr. Zhang had difficulty raising his left arm above his head, that the pain had started on January 20, 2016 without a known cause, and that the pain medicine he was taking had no effect. (Id.) Ms. Pillora, that day and during Mr. Zhang's visits on March 17 and 24, failed to connect Mr. Zhang's severe left shoulder pain with “the seizures and/or cardiac arrest that might have occurred to him.” (Id. ¶¶ 93, 95-96)

         On March 14, 2016, Mr. Zhang refused to take Zocor and Norvasc because the medicines would not relieve him from his chest severe pain during the day and night, but requested eyeglasses for blurry vision. (Id. ¶¶ 92, 94.) On March 17 and 24, 2016, Mr. Zhang saw Ms. Pillora, but refused physical therapy because he believed it would not cure the real issues which were his seizures and heart failure. (Id. ¶ 95-96.)

         On April 18, 2016, at around 7:30 a.m., Mr. Zhang demanded “to go out to have fresh air because he could not breathe.” (Id. ¶ 97.) At around 2:30 p.m. he collapsed due to heart failure. (Id.) A New York Department of Corrections officer performed chest compressions before NYCHHC Does 11-20 responded to the emergency call. (Id. ¶ 98.) Though NYCHHC Does 11-20 reportedly arrived “in a timely fashion”, Plaintiffs allege that they were actually unduly delayed “due to the setting” of the part of Rikers Island where Mr. Zhang was held. (Id. ¶ 99.) NYCHHC Does 11-20 were unable to find an automatic external defibrillator. (Id.) Dr. Wachtel, a NYCHHC “employee and/or agent, ” pronounced Mr. Zhang dead due to cardiac arrest at 3:09 p.m. (Id.) EMS did not arrive before Mr. Zhang's death. (Id. ¶ 100.)

         On April 19, 2016, a medical examiner performed an autopsy and found Mr. Zhang's cause of death was “hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.” (Id. ¶ 101.)

         B. Procedural History

         On July 17, 2017, Plaintiffs filed the complaint alleging eight causes of action against Defendants: (1) violations of the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights of equal protection and substantive due process under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Id. ¶¶ 174-181); (2) wrongful death entitling Plaintiffs to recovery under New York Estate Powers and Trust Law §§ 5-4.1 and 5-4.3 (Id. ¶¶ 182-185); (3) deprivation of society, services and parental guidance of Mr. Zhang (Id. ¶¶ 186-189); (4) discrimination under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. § 794a(a)) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. § 12131, et seq.) (Id. ¶¶ 190-193); (5) negligence and malpractice (Id. ¶¶ 194-203); (6) disregarding duty to supervise and train employees and staff (Id. ¶ 204-208); (7) infliction of intentional and negligent emotional distress (Id. ¶¶ 209-211); and (8) fraudulent concealment (Id. ¶¶ 212-220).

         On October 21, 2017, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Defendants moved to dismiss all federal claims and all but two state claims. (Defs.' Mem. in Support at 6-8 [hereinafter “Defs.' Mem.”], ECF. No. 64 (filed Dec. 5, 2017).) However, Defendants contend that should the Court dismiss all federal claims in this case, the Court should also decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state claims. (Defs.' Mem. at 6.)

         II. Le ...


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