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Griffin v. Hillsborough County Department of Corrections

United States District Court, District of New Hampshire

January 30, 2014

John R. Griffin, Jr.
Hillsborough County Department of Corrections, Superintendent, [1] Opinion No. 2014 DNH 019

John R. Griffin, Jr., pro se.


Steven J. McAuliffe, United States District Judge.

Before the court is John Griffin's complaint (doc. no. 1), and complaint addenda (doc. nos. 7, 11, and 13). Griffin is a pretrial detainee at the Hillsborough County House of Corrections ("HCHC"), awaiting trial in a state criminal matter. Griffin alleges that defendants have denied him constitutionally adequate medical care for persistent swelling in his right knee and for recurrent kidney stone attacks. In the complaint and in a complaint addendum (doc. nos. 1 and 13), Griffin has requested preliminary injunctive relief with respect to both conditions.

The complaint is before the court for preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, to determine if plaintiff has stated any claim upon which relief can be granted. The requests for preliminary injunctive relief, set forth in the pleadings, are before the court to determine if further proceedings are necessary.


Since Griffin's arrival at the HCHC in September 2013, he alleges he has suffered three kidney stone attacks, most recently on January 16, 2014. The most recent attack, Griffin alleges, caused agonizing, intense pain, and also involved nausea, vomiting, chills, fever, blocked urinary output, and blood in Griffin's urine when he passed the stone eight hours later. Griffin further asserts that the failure to provide him with treatment for the January 16 kidney stone attack, other than a small cup of Advil and Tylenol (which he vomited up), for the eight-hour duration of the attack, caused him to suffer excruciating pain unnecessarily, and put him at a heightened risk of a urinary tract infection.

Griffin alleges that he has a history of right knee swelling, and that the problem has recurred and persisted at the HCHC, without adequate treatment, since October 2013. Griffin asserts that the HCHC physician, Dr. Masewic, examined his knee in October 2013, and ordered that it be treated only by wrapping with a tight bandage, which Griffin asserts worsened his pain.

When Griffin asked the defendant doctor to aspirate excess joint fluid — a procedure Griffin characterizes as standard, effective, and inexpensive — Dr. Masewic refused to do so, citing a need for prior approval by the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners. Griffin claims that HCHC Nurse Denise Ryan has delayed his receipt of adequate treatment, and deemed Griffin's decision to loosen the over-tight bandage as evidence of noncompliance with prescribed treatment. Griffin alleges that defendants have not provided any follow-up diagnostic procedures or treatment for Griffin's knee since October 2013, which has caused him to suffer from persistent swelling, an increased risk of joint infection, loss of function, and permanent joint damage, in his knee.

Griffin further alleges that Ryan and HCHC Superintendent David Dionne told Griffin that his health and pain complaints could not be treated until the HCHC received records from outside providers to substantiate that Griffin has a history of kidney stones and knee problems. Griffin alleges that the HCHC has not been diligent in obtaining his past medical records, and he further alleges that such records were in his HCHC file on January 16, 2014, when his most recent attack was treated only with ineffective pain relievers that he could not hold down. He characterizes the missing records rationale as elevating a clerical concern over proper patient-specific treatment considerations for serious health problems.


Griffin asserts the following claims in this action:

1. Defendants violated Griffin's right to humane conditions of pretrial confinement, under the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause, in that, with deliberate indifference to Griffin's serious medical needs, defendants:
A. interfered with medical decision-making and/or interposed non-medical reasons, including an interest in cost-savings, for delaying or denying care for Griffin's swollen knee and kidney stones, by invoking -
(i) the policy of requiring inmate health and pain complaints to be substantiated by outside medical records before treatment is provided; and
(ii) the policy of requiring prior approval by the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners before an inexpensive, effective diagnostic and treatment ...

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