Schlosser v. Droughn, 3:19-cv-1445 (SRU)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
Writing for the CourtStefan R. Underhill United States District Judge
PartiesJEFFREY SCHLOSSER, Plaintiff, v. SHANNON DROUGHN, et al., Defendants.
Docket Number3:19-cv-1445 (SRU)
Decision Date20 September 2021


SHANNON DROUGHN, et al., Defendants.

No. 3:19-cv-1445 (SRU)

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

September 20, 2021


Stefan R. Underhill United States District Judge

Jeffrey Schlosser (“Schlosser”), proceeding pro se, filed the original complaint in this action in September 2019, bringing claims against numerous officials associated with the Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”). See Compl., Doc. No. 1. Schlosser generally alleged that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment when he was incarcerated at New Haven Correctional Center (“NHCC”) in 2019. Id. Schlosser subsequently amended his complaint in January 2020. See Am. Compl., Doc. No. 15. In my Initial Review Order regarding the Amended Complaint, I permitted Schlosser's Eighth Amendment claims against defendants Jackson, Cheatman, Jones, Maldonado, Walker, and Tiriolo, relating to a denial of access to medication between May 8 and May 14 of 2019, to proceed. See Initial Review Order re Amended Complaint, Doc. No. 17, at 12-15. I dismissed all other claims and defendants from the action. See id.

Schlosser now seeks leave to file a second Amended Complaint (“Proposed Amended Complaint”). In addition to the six defendants listed above, Schlosser brings claims against: RN Droughn, RN Chelsea Nappi, APRN Karen McGowan-Cottle, BSN RN L. Richardson, LPN Soler, RN Goode, Deputy Commissioner Angel Quiros, Deputy Commissioner Cheryl Cepelak, Governor Ned Lamont, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, and Captain Domitriz. Schlosser alleges that the defendants violated various provisions of state and federal law, including 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1997d, 10841, 12101 et seq., 2000d-2, 2000d-7; 18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242, 245, 1001, 1341; white collar crimes; 29 U.S.C. § 794; 45 C.F.R. Part 85 et seq.; 28 C.F.R. Part 35 et seq.; and additionally brings state law claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

I. Standard of Review

Although Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) provides that leave to amend should be freely given, a district court has discretion to deny a motion to amend on the basis of “undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of the allowance of the amendment, futility of the amendment, etc.” Ruotolo v. City of New York, 514 F.3d 184, 191 (2d Cir. 2008) (quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)); see also Gurary v. Winehouse, 235 F.3d 792, 801 (2d Cir. 2000) (“[a] district court has broad discretion in determining whether to grant leave to amend”). A court may also deny leave to amend if the proposed amendment fails to state a cognizable claim and the amendment would therefore be futile. See, e.g., Anderson News L.L.C. v, American Media, Inc., 680 F.3d 162, 185 (2d Cir. 2012) (“Leave to amend may properly be denied if the amendment would be futile, as when the proposed new pleading fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted.”) (cleaned up).

Under section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code, a district court must review an incarcerated individual's complaint-or amended complaint-to determine whether it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from that relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Because it would be futile to grant leave to amend if Schlosser's Proposed Amended Complaint does not meet that standard, I will conduct a review of the complaint to determine whether it includes cognizable claims not stated in the Amended Complaint.

Although detailed allegations are not required in order to survive initial review, a 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 Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Nevertheless, it is well-established that “the submissions of a pro se litigant must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.” Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006) (cleaned up); see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants).

II. Allegations[1]

On withdrawal from Gabapentin, Schlosser suffers from a variety of symptoms, including: pain in his legs that requires him to pace back and forth in his cell for relief; “the sweats”; feels “sick and achey”; and feels agitated, confused and disoriented. Proposed Amended Complaint (“PAC”) at ¶ 4. According to Schlosser, discontinuation of Gabapentin could also potentially cause him to experience seizures. Id.

On withdrawal from Colonadine, a blood pressure medication that Schlosser has been taking since 2012, Schlosser experiences “rebound hypertension” and feels sick to his stomach, has severe headaches and feels cold and clammy. Id. at ¶ 4(A). Discontinuation of Colonadine can also cause vasoconstriction. Id.

On withdrawal from Venlafaxin, which Schlosser takes to treat severe anxiety, agoraphobia, social phobias and PTSD, he experiences dysphoria, headaches, nausea, irritability, emotional lability, the sensation of electric shocks or “brain zaps” and is unable to sleep. Id. at ¶ 4(B). Those symptoms are the result of “an overly rapid reduction of neurotransmitter levels.” Id. According to Schlosser, Venlafaxin and Gabapentin are more effective when taken together. Id.

Schlosser also takes Benadryl to sleep. Id. at ¶ 4(C). Benadryl doses, however, last only 8-10 hours, so he starts to experience withdrawal symptoms when he misses even one dose. Id. When he does not get a complete dose of medication, it takes about two days for Schlosser to feel “normal” again and to be able to eat normally. Id.

On November 26, 2018, Nurse Droughn came to Schlosser's door to give him medication in powder form. Id. at ¶¶ 4(D), 4(E). She directed Schlosser to do a “finger sweep” in his mouth after dispensing the medication; when Schlosser refused, she began harassing him, using profanities. Id. at ¶ 4(E). Schlosser complained to Lieutenant Pedro that Nurse Droughn was harassing him even though he was not hoarding medication. Id. Nurse Droughn also falsely recorded in Schlosser's medical records that he was trying to hoard Benadryl and Gabapentin. Id. at ¶ 4(F).

At some point, Nurse Droughn sought approval from Nurse McGowan-Cottle to replace Schlosser's Gabapentin with acetaminophen. Id. at ¶ 4(G). Schlosser cannot take NSAIDs because he suffers from thrombocytopenia, [2] a blood condition that causes him to bleed easily. Id.

Relying on information from Nurse Droughn, Nurse McGowan-Cottle refused to increase Schlosser's dosage of Gabapentin. Id. at ¶ 4(H). She also incorrectly recorded the dose of Gabapentin that Schlosser had taken prior to incarceration as 800 milligrams, when Schlosser had actually been taking 900 milligrams. Id. During the entire period that Schlosser was held at NHCC, Schlosser received the wrong dose of Gabapentin. Id. at ¶ (JJ).

On December 1, Schlosser asked Nurse Droughn to have a lieutenant present when he took his medication. Id. at ¶ 4(K). Nurse Droughn refused the request and told Schlosser to leave the medical unit without giving him his prescribed medication. Id. Although Schlosser did not receive his medication that night, Nurse Droughn falsely recorded that his medication had been dispensed. Id. Schlosser wrote to Maldonado about the incidents on November 26 and December 1 but received no reply. Id. at ¶ 4(J).

Schlosser did not receive his morning medication on January 15, 2019. Id. at ¶ 4(L). Two weeks later, on January 29, 2019, he again did not receive medication, this time from Nurse Carter. Id. at ¶ 4(M). Schlosser contends that Nurse Carter should have sought him out to give him his medication. Id. at ¶ 4(R). Schlosser filed an inmate request and grievance regarding the incident on January 29; in response, ASN Jones and Deputy Warden Maldonado stated that it was Schlosser's responsibility to show up at “med pass” to receive his medication. Id. at ¶ 4(N). They did, however, confirm that Schlosser had not received his dose of Colonadine on January 15 and 29. Id. Schlosser filed a grievance on January 30 regarding his missing medication, and received a response informing him that he had exhausted available administrative remedies. Id. at ¶ 4(T).

On February 7, 2019, at 10:00 p.m., Nurse Nappi arrived with only half of Schlosser's prescribed dose of Gabapentin. Id. at ¶ 4(O). She told Schlosser that she would return with the full dose of medication, but never came back. Id. Although Schlosser did not receive any Gabapentin that night, Nurse Nappi noted in his medical records that he had been provided with a full dose. Id. Schlosser filed a grievance with respect to the missing Gabapentin but received no response. Id. at ¶ 4(W).

Schlosser's Gabapentin prescription ran out on May 7, 2019. Id. at ¶ 4(P). Between May 8, 2019 and May 14, 2019, Schlosser experienced severe withdrawal symptoms as a result of missing his medication. Id. Although he was finally provided Gabapentin on May 14, 2019, he did not receive his Colonadine prescription that day. Id. Schlosser requested a prescription renewal, but that request was not received or acted upon by RN L. Richardson until four days later. Id. at ¶ 4(V). Schlosser filed a grievance regarding the missed medication between May 8 and May 14. Id. at ¶ 4(Q). His...

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