Tagliaferi v. Doe et al
RULING granting 47 Motion to Dismiss; denying 74 Motion for Order. Signed by Judge Warren W. Eginton on 5/30/2012. (Candee, D.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
ROBERT L. TAGLIAFERI,
CASE NO. 3:09cv1592(WWE)
JANE DOE, ET AL.,
RULING ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS
The plaintiff, Robert Tagliaferi, currently incarcerated at MacDougall Correctional
Institution, filed this action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Nurse Supervisor
Cathy Durato and Dr. Ricardo Ruiz of Cheshire Correctional Institution and Nurse
Supervisor Jane Doe and Dr. John Doe of Bridgeport Correctional Center. On February
24, 2010, the Court filed an Initial Review Order dismissing all claims for monetary
damages against the defendants in their official capacities and directing the plaintiff to
identify the Doe defendants. The court permitted the Eighth Amendment deliberate
indifference to medical needs claims to proceed against Dr. Ruiz and Nurse Durato.
On September 27, 2010, the plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint naming the
following individuals as defendants: Drs. Ricardo Ruiz, Alma Garcia-Rodriguez and
James O’Halloran and Nursing Supervisors Cathy Durato and Anamarie Deebs. The
defendants have moved to dismiss the claims against them. For the reasons that
follow, the motion to dismiss will be granted.
I. Standard of Review
The function of a motion to dismiss is “merely to assess the legal feasibility of the
complaint, not to assay the weight of the evidence which might be offered in support
thereof.” Ryder Energy Distrib. v. Merrill Lynch Commodities, Inc., 748 F.2d 774, 779
(2d Cir. 1984). When deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept all
well-pleaded allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
pleader. Hishon v. King, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984). The complaint must contain the
grounds upon which the claim rests through factual allegations sufficient “to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007). A plaintiff is obliged to amplify a claim with some factual allegations to allow the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged
conduct. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009).
However, the Court must liberally construe a pro se complaint. Boykin v.
Keycorp, 521 F.3d 202, 213-214, 216 (2d Cir. 2008). In its review, the Court considers
only the facts alleged in the pleadings, documents attached as exhibits or incorporated
by reference and matters of which judicial notice may be taken. Samuels v. Air
Transport Local 504, 992 F.2d 12, 15 (2d Cir. 1993).
On January 25, 2008, the plaintiff was beaten during his arrest. He received
multiple lacerations and blunt force trauma to his face, head and body. He received
treatment for his injuries at the Hospital of St. Raphael in New Haven, Connecticut.
On May 5, 2008, he was received at New Haven Correctional Center. He
explained to the intake nurse at the facility that he was experiencing severe head and
The facts are taken from the Complaint, exhibits attached to the Complaint, the
Amended Complaint and an exhibit attached to the plaintiff’s memorandum in
opposition to the motion to dismiss which the plaintiff has incorporated by reference in
the Amended Complaint.
facial pain and problems with his vision. Ten days later, correctional officials
transferred him to Walker Correctional Institution. Three days later, prison officials
transferred him to Bridgeport Correctional Center.
Upon his arrival at Bridgeport Correctional Center, he explained to the intake
nurse that he was experiencing severe headaches and problems with his vision. On
June 8, 2008, he sent a written request to the medical department explaining his
injuries and symptoms.
On June 24, 2008, he sent a second request to the medical department
explaining his injuries and sought treatment for his headaches and vision problems. On
June 26, 2008, he sent a third request for treatment.
On June 28, 2008, Nursing Supervisor Annamarie Deebs responded to his
request and informed him that there was a four month wait to see the eye doctor and
that he had not yet been sentenced to a term of imprisonment. Supervisor Deebs
suggested that the plaintiff contact the medical department again after he had been
sentenced and that he have a family member send his eyeglasses to him from home.
On June 30, 2008, Supervisor Deebs examined the plaintiff and informed him
that there was nothing she could do for his head and eye pain. She informed him that
she thought he might be suffering from allergies. She instructed the plaintiff that he
could buy over the counter pain medication in the prison commissary.
On July 15, 2008, the plaintiff sent a request to the medical department
complaining that he had been denied medical treatment for the pain he was
experiencing in his face and head. On July 24, 2008, prison officials at Bridgeport
Correctional Center transferred the plaintiff to Cheshire Correctional Institution
Prison officials at Cheshire placed the plaintiff in segregation. On July 29, 2008,
the plaintiff submitted a request to the medical unit describing his injuries and the pain
and vision problems he had been experiencing. On August 1, and 8, 2008, the plaintiff
spoke to a nurse during her tour of his housing unit and requested to be examined by a
On August 13, 2008, Dr. Ricardo Ruiz listened to the plaintiff’s complaints
regarding his injuries and symptoms. He then examined the plaintiff and had the
plaintiff perform several neurological hand-eye coordination tests.
Dr. Ruiz prescribed Motrin for the plaintiff’s pain and explained that there was
nothing else that he could do. The plaintiff requested that Dr. Ruiz review the medical
records from the Hospital of St. Raphael where he was treated in January 2008. Dr.
Ruiz informed the plaintiff that he must file a release to enable the prison facility to
obtain copies of his medical records from the hospital.
The Motrin helped alleviate some of the plaintiff’s pain. On September 5, 2008,
the plaintiff sent a request asking permission to sign the medical records release for his
records from the Hospital of St. Raphael and seeking an appointment with an eye
doctor. The plaintiff signed the medical records release form in mid-September 2008.
On September 25, 2008, the plaintiff sent a request to be examined by a doctor
and asked that the prescription for Motrin be re-filled. He also wondered whether the
Hospital of St. Raphael had sent copies of his medical records to Cheshire’s medical
On October 26, 2008, the plaintiff filed a Grievance seeking a Health Services
Review of the diagnosis and treatment of his headaches, facial pain and his vision
problem. The plaintiff submitted another request for medical treatment on October 28,
In response to the plaintiff’s Grievance, Nursing Supervisor Cathy Durato
examined the plaintiff on October 31, 2008. The plaintiff described his injuries and
symptoms and Supervisor Durato indicated that she would schedule the plaintiff to see
an eye doctor and to see Dr. Ruiz.
On November 19, 2008, an optometrist examined the plaintiff. The optometrist
found that the vision in the plaintiff’s right eye was weaker than the vision in his left eye,
but that the plaintiff’s retinas were normal.
Dr. Ruiz also examined the plaintiff on November 19, 2008 in connection with the
plaintiff’s Grievance seeking a Health Services Review. He asked the plaintiff to
perform neurological hand-eye coordination tests. The plaintiff alleges that he was
unable to perform these tests satisfactorily. Dr. Ruiz accused the plaintiff of faking
and/or not really trying to perform the tests.
In the disposition section of the Grievance form, Dr. Ruiz noted that the plaintiff’s
neurological examination was normal, that he had reviewed the physical examination
done by a doctor at the Hospital of St. Raphael in January 2008 and that he concluded
that there was no change in the plaintiff’s neurological condition. Dr. Ruiz prescribed
Naprosyn to treat the plaintiff’s headaches. The plaintiff seeks monetary damages and
injunctive relief “from vindictive and retaliatory actions by the CDOC against the plaintiff
for bringing this action.” Amended Compl. at 18.
The defendants move to dismiss on six grounds. They argue that: (1) the
plaintiff has failed to state a claim of deliberate indifference to medical needs against
defendants Ruiz, Deebs or Durato; (2) the plaintiff has failed to allege that defendants
O’Halloran or Garcia-Rodriquez violated his constitutional rights; (3) the plaintiff has
failed to exhaust his administrative remedies; (4) the plaintiff has failed to allege the
personal involvement of the defendants in the alleged violation of his constitutional
rights; (5) they are entitled to qualified immunity; and (6) the negligence claims are
barred by Connecticut General Statutes § 4-165.
Defendants O’Halloran and Garcia-Rodriguez
The defendants contend that the Amended Complaint includes no mention of
Drs. O’Halloran or Garcia-Rodriguez. As such, the plaintiff has failed to allege that
these physicians violated his constitutionally or federally protected rights.
To state a claim under section 1983, plaintiff must allege facts showing that the
defendants, persons acting under color of state law, deprived him of a federally
protected right. Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 930 (1982).
Plaintiff has sued Dr. O’Halloran and Dr. Garcia-Rodriguez in their individual
capacities. However, he alleges no facts that they were aware of his injuries or his
complaints of pain and vision difficulties. Further, the allegations fail to suggest that
these defendants were involved in any medical treatment for those conditions or
symptoms during his confinement at Bridgeport Correctional Center from approximately
May 18, 2008 until July 24, 2008. Nor has the plaintiff alleged that defendants
O’Halloran or Garcia-Rodriguez became aware of a denial or delay in treatment by
nurses at Bridgeport Correctional Center and failed to take action to arrange for
necessary medical treatment. Accordingly, plaintiff has failed to allege that such
defendants violated his constitutionally or federally protected rights. The motion to
dismiss will be granted on the ground that the plaintiff has failed to state a plausible
claim upon which relief may granted as to defendants Dr. O’Halloran or Dr. GarciaRodriguez.
Defendants Ruiz, Deebs and Durato
Defendants Ruiz, Deebs and Durato contend that the plaintiff has failed to allege
deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.
At the time of the events set forth in the Amended Complaint, the plaintiff was a
pretrial detainee. The Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment dictates that
a pretrial detainee may not be punished in a cruel and unusual manner. Bell v. Wolfish,
441 U.S. 520, 536-37 (1979). Thus, in context of deliberate indifference to the medical
needs of a state pretrial detainee, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment “requires no more” than the Eighth Amendment would in the case of a
convicted prisoner. Caiozzo v. Koreman, 581 F.3d 63, 70 (2d Cir. 2009).
Thus, a defendant is liable for violation of the Fourteenth Amendment if plaintiff
can prove that he had serious medical condition that was met with deliberate
indifference. Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222 F.3d 99, 106 (2d Cir. 2000). To establish
deliberate indifference, a plaintiff must show more than mere negligence, although
proof of intent is not required. Weyant v. Okst, 101 F.3d 845, 856 (2d Cir. 1996). “An
official acts with the requisite deliberate indifference when that official knows of and
disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware
of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm
exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Chance v. Armstrong, 143 F.3d 698, 702
Dr. Ricardo Ruiz
The plaintiff claims that Dr. Ruiz did not adequately evaluate him and should
have referred him for further evaluation and treatment. However, plaintiff’s
disagreement with the extent of his doctor’s medical evaluation and the conclusion or
treatment prescribed by the doctor does not constitute deliberate indifference to
medical needs. Chance, 143 F.3d at 703. Accordingly, the motion to dismiss will be
granted as to the claims against Dr. Ruiz.
Nursing Supervisor Deebs
The plaintiff alleges that Supervisor Deebs initially responded to his written
request for medical treatment by telling him that there was a four month wait to see an
eye doctor and that he should contact the medical department again after he had been
sentenced to a term of imprisonment. Two days later, Supervisor Deebs examined the
plaintiff and told the plaintiff that she thought the plaintiff’s headaches might be due to
allergies. She informed the plaintiff that he could purchase pain medication at the
commissary. Two weeks later, the plaintiff submitted a request to be seen by a
physician. Prison officials transferred the plaintiff to Cheshire nine days later.
These allegations against Deebs do not establish plaintiff’s assertion of
deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The fact that Deebs may have
incorrectly diagnosed him as suffering from allergies constitutes negligence at most.
Such medical malpractice, however, does not amount to deliberate indifference to
serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Smith v. Carpenter, 316
F.3d 178, 184 (2d Cir. 2003). Accordingly, the motion to dismiss will be granted as to
Nursing Supervisor Nancy Durato
The plaintiff alleges that Supervisor Durato examined him in response to his
grievance seeking medical treatment for his headaches and vision problems. At that
time, she allegedly informed the plaintiff that his expectations regarding the type of
medical treatment he might receive in prison were misguided. At the end of the visit,
she informed the plaintiff that she would schedule appointments for him to see an
optometrist and Dr. Ruiz. The plaintiff saw both Dr. Ruiz and an optometrist within a
couple of weeks of his visit with Supervisor Durato.
Even if Supervisor Durato spoke to the plaintiff in a way that sounded as if she
was not sympathetic to his medical needs, the facts alleged do not establish a claim for
deliberate indifference to those needs. The motion to dismiss will be granted on the
ground that the plaintiff has not alleged facts supporting a plausible claim that
defendant Durato was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs.
Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss [Doc. #47] is GRANTED. The court declines to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over any state law claims. See United Mine Workers
v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 715-26 (1966) (holding that, where all federal claims have been
dismissed before trial, pendent state claims should be dismissed without prejudice and
left for resolution by the state courts). The plaintiff’s Motion for Ruling on the Motion to
Dismiss [Doc. #74] is DENIED. The Clerk is directed to enter judgment for the
defendants and close this case.
The court notes that in June 2011, the plaintiff attempted to file a supplemental
complaint to add counsel for the defendants, Assistant Attorney General Carmel
Motherway, as a defendant in this action. On March 30, 2012, Magistrate Judge Smith
denied the motion to supplement the complaint without prejudice to re-filing it after the
court ruled on the defendants’ motion to dismiss. In light of the fact that the court has
granted the motion to dismiss and dismissed all claims against the defendants, any
motion to file a supplemental complaint to add claims against Attorney Motherway
would be moot.2
Dated this 29th day of May 2012, at Bridgeport, Connecticut.
WARREN W. EGINTON
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Furthermore, even if the court had not granted the motion to dismiss all
claims against the defendants, there is no basis to permit the plaintiff to supplement the
Amended Complaint to add a claim that in June 2010 Assistant Attorney General
Motherway obtained and reviewed the plaintiff’s medical and mental health records in
violation of the plaintiff’s right to privacy. As indicated above, the claims in the
Amended Complaint relate to injuries sustained in January 2008 and medical treatment
for those injuries from May to November 2008. Rule 15(d), Fed. R. Civ. P. provides that
“on motion and reasonable notice” to the parties, “the court may, on just terms, permit a
party to serve a supplemental pleading setting out any transaction, occurrence, or event
that happened after the date of the pleading sought to be supplemented.” The court is
permitted to grant a party leave to file a supplemental complaint only “when the
supplemental facts connect it to the original pleading.” See Quaratino v. Tiffany & Co.,
71 F.3d 58, 66 (2d Cir. 1995). Any claims related to Attorney Motherway’s alleged
review of the plaintiff’s medical and mental health records is unrelated to the alleged
provision of medical treatment to the plaintiff by the defendants in 2008.
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