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Edward Grimes, et al v. Correctional Medical Services

September 23, 2011

EDWARD GRIMES, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CORRECTIONAL MEDICAL SERVICES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lois H. GOODMANUnited States Magistrate Judge

ORDER AND OPINION DENYING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND

Presently before the Court is a motion brought by Plaintiffs pro se Edward Grimes, John Tell, and William Engel ("Plaintiffs"), seeking leave of the Court to amend the Complaint. Docket Entry No. 129. The proposed Amended Complaint (the "2011 PAC") would add 14 new defendants, several new claims including violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1961, et seq. ("RICO"), violation of the New Jersey RICO statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:41-1, et seq., violation of public policy regarding the medical care of state prison inmates, violation of the New Jersey Constitution, violation of the Fourteen Amendment of the United States Constitution, and breach of contract against proposed new defendant, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey ("UMDNJ"), as well as a request for additional relief including a preliminary injunction against all Defendants. Plaintiffs also seek to add new factual allegations and theories of liability. Defendants, Correctional Medical Services, Inc. ("CMS"), Joseph Girone, M.D., Allan Martin, M.D., Ihuoma Nwachukwu, M.D., Grace Melendez, M.D., Donique Ivery, N.P., Jawana Bethea and Jason Pugh, (collectively, the "CMS Defendants") oppose the motion on the grounds of undue delay and accompanying bad faith in that delay, undue prejudice, and futility. See CMS Brief in Opposition ("CMS Opp.") at Docket Entry No. 138; CMS Sur-Reply ("CMS Sur-Reply") at Docket Entry No. 145; CMS Supplemental Brief in Opposition ("CMS Supp. Opp.") at Docket Entry No. 147. Defendants George Hayman, as Commissioner of the Department of Corrections (the "DOC") and Michelle Ricci, as Administrator of the Prisons (collectively, the "DOC Defendants"), also oppose the motion on the grounds that the motion is untimely, unduly prejudicial, and futile. See DOC's Brief in Opposition ("DOC Opp.") at Docket Entry No. 140; DOC Supplemental Brief in Opposition ("DOC Supp. Opp.") at Docket Entry No. 146. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' motion is DENIED.

I. Statement of Facts and Procedural History

A. The Original Complaint

Plaintiffs filed their original Complaint on or about February 1, 2008 (the "Complaint"), setting forth allegations that Defendants*fn1 deprived Plaintiffs, as inmates of the New Jersey State Prison ("NJSP"), of vital medications, and caused them severe pain, lasting negative health consequences, and emotional harm.

Plaintiffs state that the DOC contracted with CMS, a private medical services provider, to provide medical care to inmates incarcerated in NJSP. Complaint ¶¶ 64-65. Plaintiffs suffer from a multitude of health issues, which require frequent interaction with the prison medical system. See Complaint ¶¶ 68-77, 108-128, 199-201. Each Plaintiff suffers from severe heart problems in addition to several other illnesses, and Plaintiffs describe in the Complaint the many medications they must each take to control these health conditions. Id. Plaintiffs maintain that their complicated medical histories make it necessary to keep their medication regimens as prescribed by their specialists, and that any lapse in the dosage will cause them harm and could potentially lead to death. See Complaint ¶ 238.

Plaintiffs allege that CMS and its employees: 1) failed to adequately provide Plaintiffs with their prescribed medications; 2) altered or ignored prescriptions and advice of specialists; and 3) retaliated against Plaintiffs for disagreeing with the staff or treatment given. See, e.g., Complaint ¶ ¶ 86-96, 142, 147, 164, 204-205, 224-225. Furthermore, Plaintiffs claim their administrative remedy forms to both CMS and the DOC have either gone unanswered or been returned unaddressed, and that the DOC Defendants have failed to adequately ensure that proper medical services were being provided. See, e.g., Complaint ¶ ¶ 12-41.

Plaintiffs allege that Defendants, through their actions and inactions, have violated Plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Additionally, Plaintiffs claim CMS violated its contract with the DOC to provide adequate medical services, and Plaintiffs assert that they were the intended beneficiaries of that contract. Finally, Plaintiffs seek damages and relief based on negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiffs pray for compensatory and punitive damages, and a permanent injunction which orders Defendants to "1) immediately comply with all recommendation by medical specialists for a treatment plan with (sic) includes pain management; 2) keep all prescriptions up to date; 3) find the present remedy system null and void, and implement a system where the prisoner retains a copy of any remedy filed for proof of filing; 4) waive all fees for medical treatment for chronic care; and, 5) Allow patient to refuse placement in the infirmary." Complaint ¶ 240.

On May 2, 2008, the Court proceeded the Complaint after it was screened in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Docket Entry No. 5. Prior to this date, the CMS Defendants filed a motion to sever the case, requesting that each Plaintiff prosecute his own action. Docket Entry No. 3. On July 7, 2008, Plaintiffs filed a brief in opposition to the motion to sever and a cross-motion to amend the complaint and appoint pro bono counsel. Docket Entry No. 7.

B. The 2008 Proposed Amended Complaint

In their first proposed Amended Complaint (the "2008 PAC"), Plaintiffs sought to add a significant number of new defendants, causes of action, and theories of liability, as well as an additional named plaintiff, with whom they sought class certification on behalf of all current and released inmates of NJSP who had been denied adequate medical treatment.

Two of the new causes of action in the 2008 PAC asserted violations of the federal and state RICO statutes. Plaintiffs claimed that the medical staff refused to disburse medications and then falsified Plaintiffs' medical records by marking the files to reflect that the medications were distributed. See, e.g., 2008 PAC ¶ 70. According to Plaintiffs, CMS Defendants engaged in wire and mail fraud when the falsified medical records were transmitted to CMS headquarters and other CMS centers out of state. See 2008 PAC ¶ ¶ 195-198. Plaintiffs contended in the 2008 PAC that the CMS Defendants omitted information in their medical records from their specialist physicians or otherwise altered Plaintiffs' records in order to funnel prescriptions through the CMS-owned pharmacy. See 2008 PAC ¶ ¶ 67-71.

In addition to the RICO claims, Plaintiffs sought to add new causes of action and new theories of liability for violation of their Fourteenth Amendment rights, medical malpractice, violation of the New Jersey Constitution, and violation of several state and federal statutes which Plaintiffs argued represented the public policy with regard to providing medical care in state prisons. Plaintiffs claimed that not only did the CMS Defendants fail to provide necessary medical services and engage in racketeering activity, but that the DOC Defendants knew about the CMS Defendants' activity and failed to enact policies to rectify and prevent these wrongs against Plaintiffs. 2008 PAC ¶¶ 71, 75-87.

Finally, Plaintiffs sought to expand their prayer for relief in the 2008 PAC to request the appointment of a special master to preside over the DOC medical programs, and that the Court grant a preliminary injunction in addition to the permanent injunction previously sought, with the additional conditions of requiring Defendants to provide Tell and Engel with their requested medical aids (such as special chairs and mattresses), to refrain from retaliating against Plaintiffs, to provide Plaintiffs with medications as ...


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