Payton v. Connecticut Department of Correction et al
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER. The Clerk is directed to enter judgment for the defendants and close the case. Payton may move to reopen the case and file an amended complaint no later than July 20, 2017. Signed by Judge Stefan R. Underhill on 06/20/2017. (Jamieson, K)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
No. 3:17-cv-00006 (SRU)
CONN. DEP’T OF CORR., et al.,
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
The plaintiff, Albert Payton, is incarcerated at the Osborn Correctional Institution. He has
filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Connecticut Department of Correction,
University of Connecticut Correctional Managed Health Care, Dr. Naqui, Sean MacRae and
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I must review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any
portion of the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, that fails to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
Although detailed allegations are not required, the complaint must include sufficient facts to
afford the defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and to
demonstrate a plausible right to relief. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555–56 (2007).
Conclusory allegations are not sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The
plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Nevertheless, it is well-established that “[p]ro se complaints ‘must be
construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.’” Sykes v.
Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons,
470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir.
2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants).
Payton suffers from debilitating back problems and is allergic to Motrin. That allergy is
noted in Payton’s medical file.
On an unidentified date at an unidentified location, Dr. Naqvi, Sean MacRae, and
Richard Furey allegedly prescribed Motrin for Payton. Payton claims that after taking Motrin he
suffered from anaphylactic shock and medical staff provided him with Benadryl “to counteract
the severe allergic reaction.” Compl., Doc No. 1, at 4.
Payton claims that the blatant disregard of the notation in his chart indicating that he is
allergic to Motrin constituted gross negligence and medical malpractice by the Department of
Correction, University of Connecticut Correctional Managed Health Care, Naqui, MaCrae, and
Furey. In addition, Payton alleges that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his
debilitating back pain.
He sues the defendants in their individual capacities only. He seeks monetary damages
and an order “restricting CT DOC, UCONN CMHC from committing those actions set forth by
complaint.” Id. at 5.
A. Claims against State Agencies
To state a claim under section 1983, the plaintiff must allege facts showing that the
defendant, a person acting under color of state, law deprived him of a federally protected right.
See Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 930 (1982). Neither the State of Connecticut
Department of Correction nor University of Connecticut Correctional Managed Health Care is a
person subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
A state agency is not a person within the meaning of section 1983. See Will v. Michigan
Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (state and state agencies not persons within
meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983). The Department of Correction is a state agency. See Vaden v.
Connecticut, 557 F. Supp. 2d 279, 288 (D. Conn. 2008); Garris v. Dep’t of Corr., 170 F. Supp.
2d 182, 186 (D. Conn. 2001). Like other state agencies, the Department of Correction is not a
person within the meaning of section 1983. See Torrence v. Pelkey, 164 F. Supp. 2d 264, 271 (D.
Conn. 2001) (observing that the State of Connecticut Department of Correction is a state agency
and that ‘[i]t is well-settled that a state agency is not a “person” within the meaning of § 1983’)
(citing cases). Thus, I dismiss the claims against the State of Connecticut Department of
Correction as lacking an arguable legal basis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
Correctional Managed Health Care provides medical treatment to inmates and “is a
division of a state agency, the University of Connecticut Health Center.” Jolly v. Correctional
Managed Health Care, 2009 WL 233667, at *3 (D. Conn. Jan. 30, 2009), aff’d, 375 F. App’x 67
(2d Cir. 2010) (summary order). Because Correctional Managed Health Care is a division of a
state agency, it is not considered to be a person subject to suit under section 1983. See Gaby v.
Bd. of Trs. of Cmty. Tech. Colls., 348 F.3d 62, 63 (2d Cir. 2003) (per curiam) (noting decisions
holding that state universities and their boards of trustees are not persons within the meaning of
section 1983); Walker v. Connecticut, 2006 WL 1981783, at *2 (D. Conn. Mar. 15, 2006)
(dismissing action against CMHC under section 1983 because CMHC is not a “person” within
the meaning of the statute); Stewart v. John Dempsey Hosp., 2004 WL 78145, at *2 (D. Conn.
Jan. 9, 2004) (holding that John Dempsey Hospital University of Connecticut Health Center is
not a person within the meaning of section 1983). I dismiss the claims against the University of
Connecticut Correctional Managed Health Care as lacking an arguable legal basis. See 28 U.S.C.
B. Claims against Individuals
Payton alleges that he suffers from “chronic pain due to  debilitating back problems.”
Compl., Doc. No. 1, at 2. He is allergic to Motrin and his allergy is noted in his medical file.
Payton claims that Naqui, MaCrae and Furey were involved in prescribing Motrin to him on an
unidentified date and that he suffered a severe allergic reaction after ingesting the Motrin. He
claims that medical staff provided him with an antihistamine to treat the symptoms associated
with his allergic reaction.
Deliberate indifference by prison officials to an inmate’s serious medical needs
constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. See Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). There is a subjective and an objective component to the
deliberate indifference standard. See Salahuddin v. Goord, 467 F.3d 263, 279–80 (2d Cir. 2006).
Under the objective component, Payton must allege that his medical condition, illness or
injury is a “sufficiently serious” one. Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991). A “sufficiently
serious” deprivation exists if the plaintiff suffers from an urgent medical condition that is
degenerative or is capable of causing death or extreme or chronic pain. See Brock v. Wright, 315
F.3d 158, 163 (2d Cir. 2003) (citation omitted); Hathaway v. Coughlin, 99 F.3d 550, 553 (2d Cir.
1996) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Under the subjective component, Payton
must allege that the defendant prison official “act[ed] with a sufficiently culpable state of mind.”
Wilson, 501 U.S. at 298 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Thus, the defendant
must have been actually aware of a substantial risk that the inmate would suffer serious harm as
a result of his or her actions or inactions and have disregarded that risk. See Salahuddin, 467
F.3d at 279–80. The fact that a prison official did not alleviate a significant risk that he should
have but did not perceive does not constitute deliberate indifference. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 838 (1994).
The allegation regarding the administration of Motrin to Payton by the defendants
appears to be an isolated and inadvertent error. See Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986)
(“It is obduracy and wantonness, not inadvertence or error in good faith, that characterize the
conduct” prohibited by the Eighth Amendment.). Furthermore, appropriate treatment was
provided to Payton in response to his allergic reaction. Thus, to the extent plaintiff claims that he
received inadequate medical care because defendants failed to closely monitor his medication
allergy as listed in his medical records, Payton states at most a claim of negligence or
malpractice. Malpractice claims are not cognizable in section 1983 actions because they sound in
negligence and negligence does not state a claim of deliberate indifference to medical needs. See
Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106 (“[A] complaint that a physician has been negligent in diagnosing or
treating a medical condition does not state a valid claim . . . under the Eighth Amendment.
Medical malpractice does not become a constitutional violation merely because the victim is a
prisoner.”); Hill v. Curcione, 657 F.3d 116, 123 (2d Cir. 2011) (“Medical malpractice does not
rise to the level of a constitutional violation unless the malpractice involves culpable
recklessness—an act or a failure to act by a prison doctor that evinces a conscious disregard of a
substantial risk of serious harm.”) (internal quotation marks, brackets, and citation omitted);
Smith v. Carpenter, 316 F.3d 178, 184 (2d Cir. 2003) (“Because the Eighth Amendment is not a
vehicle for bringing medical malpractice claims, nor a substitute for state tort law, not every
lapse in prison medical care will rise to the level of a constitutional violation.”).
Because the conduct of the defendants with regard to prescribing Motrin to treat Payton’s
pain constitutes at most, medical malpractice or negligence, the claim against them does not state
a violation of Payton’s Eighth Amendment rights. Thus, this claim is dismissed for failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
To the extent that the allegations in the complaint may also be construed to assert a claim
that Naqui, MacRae and Furey were deliberately indifferent in treating Payton’s “debilitating
back problems,” Payton does not allege that he complained to one or more of the defendants
regarding an injury to or problems with his back or that one or more of the defendants failed to
respond to his complaints or requests for treatment. I conclude that the facts, as alleged, do not
state a plausible claim that any defendant was deliberately indifferent to his back injury or
problems with his back. Thus, the claim against Naqui, MacRae and Furey relating to treatment
of problems with or an injury to his back is dismissed without prejudice. See 28 U.S.C. §
It is hereby ordered that:
All claims against the Connecticut Department of Correction and Correctional
Managed Health Care and the claim against Dr. Naqui, Sean MacRae and Richard Furey related
to medication prescribed to treat back pain are DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b)(1). The claim against Dr. Naqui, Sean MacRae and Richard Furey regarding treatment
for Payton’s back injury or problems with his back is DISMISSED without prejudice pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). I decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state
law claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3); Lundy v. Catholic Health Sys. of Long Island, 711 F.3d
106, 117–18 (2d Cir. 2013).
The Clerk is directed to enter judgment for the defendants and close this case. If
the plaintiff chooses to appeal this decision, he may not do so in forma pauperis, because such an
appeal would not be taken in good faith. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3).
Within thirty days of the date of this order, Payton may move to reopen this
case and file an amended complaint with regard to his claim pertaining to treatment by medical
staff for his back injury/problems if he can assert specific facts pertaining to the dates on which
he requested treatment and/or made each medical staff member aware of his request for
treatment and how each defendant violated his constitutional rights in responding to or in failing
to respond to his request or requests for treatment. The allegations should refer to each defendant
by name and indicate the facility in which Payton was confined when the conduct occurred.
Dated at Bridgeport, Connecticut, this 20th day of June 2017.
/s/ STEFAN R. UNDERHILL
Stefan R. Underhill
United States District Judge
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