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Nefferdorf v. Correctional Medical Services

April 21, 2009

RICKY NEFFERDORF, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CORRECTIONAL MEDICAL SERVICES, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge

OPINION

In this action, Plaintiff, Ricky Nefferdorf, asserts that Defendants were negligent and deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs by failing to diagnose and treat his hepatitis C ("HCV") while he was incarcerated. Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Correctional Medical Services, Inc., William Andrade, James J. Neal, M.D., James Ruman, R.N., Rock Welch, and Abu Ashan, M.D. (collectively, "Defendants"). For the reasons expressed below, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted.

I. JURISDICTION

Plaintiff has brought his claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as New Jersey state law. This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

II. BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In June 1997, Plaintiff was incarcerated in the New Jersey Department of Corrections ("NJDOC") following a conviction for burglary. At that time, Plaintiff had no medical concerns beyond his history of drug and alcohol abuse. While incarcerated, Plaintiff stopped using drugs and alcohol and reported his level of health to be "very good." Plaintiff was released on parole in November 1998.

Following his release, Plaintiff violated the terms of his probation by testing positive for drugs and alcohol. He was then sent to a rehabilitation program, from which he fled in May 1999. While a fugitive, Plaintiff continued his use of alcohol and drugs and began to experience serious medical issues. Despite vomiting blood in 1999, Plaintiff did not seek medical attention for fear of being caught by law enforcement officials. In 2000, Plaintiff's girlfriend was treated for HCV. At that time, Plaintiff was offered medical treatment, but he refused.

In November 2002, Plaintiff was arrested for having violated the terms of his parole. Shortly thereafter, while being held in Atlantic County, Plaintiff was hospitalized for vomiting blood. While hospitalized, Plaintiff was diagnosed for the first time with diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver due to alcoholism, and HCV.

In March 2003, Plaintiff was transferred to the NJDOC. Upon his admission to the NJDOC, Plaintiff reported that he had been diagnosed with cirrhosis, HCV, and diabetes to intake personnel. He was then immediately referred for a gastroenterology consult, testing, and counseling. In April 2003, Plaintiff was tested for HCV and counseled with respect to the disease. The results of the test confirmed Plaintiff's HCV status. When he was advised of the test results Plaintiff was given additional counseling on living with HCV, liver functions, and the symptoms of liver failure. From May 2003 through November 2003, Plaintiff received treatment for certain gastroenterological issues. During his incarceration Plaintiff also received treatment for his depression, including a prescription for Celexia. By September 2003, Plaintiff's depression was deemed to be controlled.

While being treated by CMS in 2003, Plaintiff was advised that he was not a candidate for HCV drug therapy treatment because of his cirrhosis. Plaintiff was also advised that his history of depression was a contraindication for retroviral drug therapy. Nonetheless, Plaintiff was advised that if he stopped drinking and using drugs, he could live another ten to twenty years with stable cirrhosis.

On November 24, 2003, Plaintiff was released on parole. At that time, he was given two weeks worth of medication for his depression, and a follow-up visit was scheduled for him with a doctor. Following his release, Plaintiff resumed his abuse of alcohol and drugs. Since his release, Plaintiff has not sought any drug therapy treatment for his HCV. On July 20, 2004, Plaintiff filed the current action.

III. DISCUSSION

The three count Complaint in this action alleges claims for violation of Section 1983, negligence, and medical malpractice. Defendants now move for summary judgment on both of the counts ...


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