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Brown v. Correctional Medical Services

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 22, 2015

WILLIAM BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECTIONAL MEDICAL SERVICES, et al., Defendants.

OPINION

FREDA L. WOLFSON, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, currently incarcerated, has sued Correctional Medical Services ("CMS"), several doctors and nurses employed by CMS (collectively "Medical Defendants"), two supervisors and/or administrators at CMS, two administrators at the New Jersey Department of Corrections ("NJDOC"), as well as unidentified John Doe Doctor Defendants, alleging claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law.[1]

At this time, the Court must review the Complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. The gravamen of Plaintiff's Complaint is that the surgeon or surgeons who performed his corrective umbilical hernia procedure in 2008 "forgot" to insert stomach mesh prior to closing the repair, and this oversight led to Plaintiff's collapse in cell, a subsequent corrective procedure, and ongoing medical problems. Because Plaintiff fails to allege facts (1) to suggest that any of the Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs or (2) to support a claim for conspiracy under 1983, the Court dismisses the federal claims without prejudice as to all Defendants at this time, and declines to address Plaintiff's supplemental state law claims.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On February 6, 2008, Plaintiff, while incarcerated, had a corrective procedure to repair an umbilical hernia. (No. 1, Compl. at ¶ 22.) It is not clear from the Complaint whether any of the doctors or nurses named in the Complaint performed or assisted with this initial hernia repair or if one or more of the "John Doe" doctors performed the procedure. Plaintiff alleges that on March 23, 2008, he was transported from the prison to St. Francis Medical Center "in a coma, " and when he awoke, the medical staff at St. Francis told him he was "lucky" to be alive. ( Id. at ¶ 23.) According to Plaintiff, the circumstances surrounding his emergency transportation to St. Francis were never explained to him, and the staff reports documenting this incident are contradictory. Correctional Officer Edwards' report stated that he found Defendant unconscious in his cell, but Registered Nurse Carol Milroy stated in her report that Plaintiff was sitting up in his bed but was lethargic. ( Id. at ¶¶ 27-29.) After waiting roughly a week for a diagnosis, Plaintiff was subjected to a second corrective procedure. ( Id. at ¶ 24.) Plaintiff appears to allege that he was told at the time of the second corrective procedure that the doctor who performed the original procedure forgot to put stomach mesh at the site of the repair before closing the area. ( Id. at ¶ 25.)

Plaintiff alleges that his health has deteriorated due to the actions and inactions of the Defendants involved in the initial medical procedure and that he continues to have medical problems arising from the initial surgery. ( Id. at ¶ 30.) Notably, however, Plaintiff's Complaint provides no facts related to the six-and-a-half-year period between March of 2008, when the initial procedures were performed, and September 26, 2014, when he sought medical treatment for a swollen and painful lump on the left side of his stomach and pain during urination. ( Id. at ¶¶ 31-33.) Plaintiff alleges that, on September 26, 2014, he met with Defendant Barbara Brown, an administrator at CMS, and told her about the pain he was experiencing, but he was not seen immediately by a doctor. ( Id. at ¶ 33.) Two weeks later, Plaintiff filed a grievance over the delay in his treatment and received a response on October 15, 2014, which indicated that he was scheduled to see medical provider. ( Id. at ¶¶ 34-36.) On November, 17, 2014, Plaintiff was diagnosed with "stones" and "stool retention" based on an X-Ray, and a nurse prescribed milk of magnesia. ( Id. at ¶¶ 37-38.)

As of the filing of his Complaint, he has not been treated for the lump in his stomach. ( Id. at ¶ 39.) Medical staff did inform Plaintiff that the pain he was suffering could be a keloid in the center of his stomach. ( Id. at ¶ 40.) This keloid allegedly formed due to the stomach staples placed during corrective surgery on July 16, 2014. ( Id. ) It is not clear from the Complaint whether this corrective surgery is related to the 2008 hernia repair. Plaintiff also alleges that he has not received clarification about whether he has Hepatitis C as a result of a blood transfusion due to "mistakes" in the testing. ( Id. at ¶ 41.) It is not clear from the Complaint whether this blood transfusion was performed during any of the corrective surgeries described in Plaintiff's Complaint. Plaintiff alleges that prison medical staff has also failed to update his medical records with the test results and provide further testing, which Plaintiff alleges is required yearly. ( Id. at ¶ 42.)

Plaintiff filed a four-count Complaint on January 22, 2015, and it was docketed on February 23, 2015. In the first of these overlapping counts, Plaintiff alleges "[t]he surgeon who performed the initial medical procedure... exercised deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's health by failing to insert the stomach mesh prior to closing the area of concern when he did exploratory laparotomy." ( Id. at ¶ 48.) According to Plaintiff, the surgeon's "deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's health and safety was further demonstrated when Plaintiff was informed that the doctor forgot' to put a stomach mesh into the area of surgery prior to closing the area of surgery." ( Id. at ¶ 48.) Count two alleges a state law claim for medical negligence against CMS for its failure to train supervise and oversee its medical doctors and staff.

Count four alleges claims against all Defendants pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. In addition to direct claims of inadequate medical treatment, Plaintiff also asserts a supervisory claim against Defendants Gary M. Lanigan and Mr. D'Ilio based on the following allegations:

61. Defendants Gary M. Lanigan, Mr. Dilo [sic]... failed to adequately monitor the treatment of prisoners in their care custody and control by contracting with medical provider CMS, constitutes [sic] deliberate indifference to plaintiff's serious medical needs.
62. Defendants Gary M. Lanigan, N.J. Commissioner was well aware of the many problems and, complaints prisoners have made against the CMS (Correctional Medical Services Provider), that this has been an ongoing problem with CMS and, its medical doctors, nurses and, staff for a very long time.
63. Defendants Lanigan and Dilo [sic] are well aware of this problem and, when notified via remedy/grievance the result is either the prisoner is transferred or, the medical staff transferred or both....

( Id. at ¶¶ 61-63.) In the same Count, Plaintiff also appears to assert claims under Section 1983 and state law corollaries against Defendant CMS for its allegedly inadequate policies and failures to train and supervise its medical staff. Finally, Plaintiff alleges a Section 1983 civil rights conspiracy by all Defendants, whom Plaintiff alleges were acting in concert to submit false ...


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