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Czekalski v. Wrenn

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

March 2, 2018

Jason A. Czekalski
v.
William Wrenn, New Hampshire Department of Corrections Commissioner; Christopher Kench; Paula Mattis; and Jon Fouts

          Jason A. Czekalski, pro se Francis Charles Fredericks, Esq. Lynmarie C. Cusack, Esq.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ANDREA K. JOHNSTONE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the court is the (first) amended complaint (Doc. No. 5), filed by Jason A. Czekalski, an inmate at the New Hampshire State Prison (“NHSP”), naming as defendants (former) New Hampshire Department of Corrections (“DOC”) Commissioner William Wrenn; DOC Director of Security Christopher Kench; DOC Director of Forensic Services Paula Mattis; and NHSP Director of Security Jon Fouts. This court's January 19, 2018 Order (Doc. No. 2) identified the claims asserted in the original complaint (Doc. No. 1), subjected those claims to preliminary review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and LR 4.3(d)(1), and granted plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint. Document No. 5, filed in response to that Order, is deemed to be the operative complaint in this action, and is subjected to further preliminary review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and LR 4.3(d)(1) herein.

         Also before the court are Czekalski's motion to certify the case as a class action and to appoint class counsel (Doc. No. 3) and his motion for a preliminary injunction (Doc. No. 4). Those motions are addressed in this Report and Recommendation (“R&R”).

         Background

         I. Allegations in Amended Complaint

         Czekalski has been incarcerated at the NHSP since 2013. Prior to his incarceration, Czekalski was under the care of medical specialists for the treatment of arthritis and asthma. Czekalski asserts that, since arriving at the NHSP, the arthritis pain in his knees, hip, spine, and shoulder has worsened, rendering him unable to sleep through the night and causing him severe pain throughout the day, and that the thin mattresses in use at the NHSP severely aggravate his arthritis pain. Czekalski's pain is not controlled by the ibuprofen and acetaminophen he takes.

         Czekalski states that Wrenn, Mattis, Kench, and Fouts, have each obstructed the ability of his DOC treating physicians, DOC pain specialist Dr. Carey Rodd, and DOC psychiatrist Dr. Graves, to manage his chronic pain. Specifically, Czekalski asserts that defendants have blocked his access to a new thicker mattress for the bed in his cell, which he believes would improve his sleep and eliminate most of the pain he is presently suffering. Czekalski has alleged that defendants have not answered his request to be allowed to stack two thin mattresses together while he awaits the issuance of a new thicker mattress.

         Czekalski asserts that his prescriptions at the NHSP are neither promptly filled, nor promptly delivered once they are filled. Since July 2017 when the system of automatic refills for most medications was implemented, Czekalski states that prescriptions have been generally filled on time, but typically take three to five days to be delivered to him. Czekalski further asserts, however, with respect to prescriptions that have remained subject to the inmate refill form procedures, and are not automatically refilled, it is not uncommon for prescriptions to be filled 10 to 15 days after his supply has run out. Czekalski asserts each named defendant was made aware of his concerns in this regard through grievances.

         Czekalski specifically claims that the delay in filling or delivering his ibuprofen prescription has caused him debilitating pain, delay in delivering his Proscar prescription has caused him to have bloody urine, and delay in delivering his asthma inhalers has caused him respiratory distress. Czekalski also asserts that he has not received the dual-medication maintenance inhaler he was prescribed prior to his incarceration to control his asthma. He further alleges that for three years prior to April 2017, he was not prescribed the same amount of ibuprofen he had been prescribed prior to his incarceration to control his arthritis pain. Czekalski asserts each named defendant was made aware of his concerns in this regard through grievances.

         Czekalski asserts he receives his daily dose of prescribed antidepressants at a different time of day than that prescribed by DOC psychiatrist Dr. Graves, as the schedule for distributing his medications in the morning was altered for the convenience of prison staff. The timing of distribution of medications has caused Czekalski to choose between engaging in morning prayers and receiving treatment for a medical condition. Czekalski is unable to obtain a prescription for melatonin specifying that he take that medication in the manner he believes is appropriate, and he is unable to take acetaminophen at the dosage recommended by DOC pain specialist Dr. Carey Rodd because the NHSP requires him to purchase that medication through the canteen, but does not permit the canteen to sell the full dosage of medication recommended by Dr. Rodd. Czekalski asserts each named defendant was made aware of his concerns in this regard through grievances.

         Czekalski, who is legally blind, has broken his eyeglasses, and he has been told that he must pay a fee to obtain new eyeglasses. In addition, NHSP officials will not issue Czekalski boots in his size, which causes him to wear boots that have given him blisters and increase his risk of tripping. Czekalski asserts each named defendant was made aware of his concerns in this regard through grievances.

         Czekalski states that he suffers from PTSD and chronic pain, conditions for which medical marijuana can be an effective treatment. Czekalski asserts that DOC refuses to make medical marijuana available to inmates, and that a state law, N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. (“RSA”) § 126-X:3, treats inmates differently than those outside the prison with respect to the availability of medical marijuana. Czekalski asserts each named defendant was made aware of his concerns in this regard through grievances.

         While incarcerated at the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility, Czekalski was sent to a hospital emergency room in June 2015 to address his complaints of urinary bleeding and clotting. A CT scan revealed an indistinct mass in Czekalski's bladder and a “bone island” in his pelvis, which had the prospect of being a fast-moving cancer. A urologist ordered a follow up cystoscopy. That procedure, which was performed seven months after it was ordered, indicated that Czekalski did not have cancer in his bladder or pelvis. Medicine then prescribed by the urologist stopped the bleeding and clotting in less than a week. Czekalski attributes the seven month delay in the scheduling of the cystoscopy to dereliction by (former) DOC Nurse Judy Baker, who he describes was a “known drunk, ” as Baker cancelled Czekalski's appointments and lost his paperwork. Czekalski claims that Baker's poor job performance was known to her supervisors, Wrenn, Mattis, and Kench.

         II. Claims Asserted in the Amended Complaint

         Seeking compensatory damages, injunctive relief, and a declaratory judgment against (former) DOC Commissioner Wrenn in his individual and official capacities and the other defendants in their individual capacities, Czekalski asserts the following claims in the amended complaint (Doc. No. 5):

         1. Defendants William Wrenn, Christopher Kench, Paula Mattis, and Jon Fouts violated Czekalski's Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care by blocking Czekalski's access to a thicker mattress.

         2. Defendants Wrenn, Kench, Mattis, and Fouts violated Czekalski's Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care by implementing an inmate prescription refill process that has resulted in delays in Czekalski's receipt of medications due to delays in filling prescriptions and delivering medication.

         3. Defendants Wrenn, Kench, Mattis, and Fouts violated Czekalski's Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care, in that:

a. DOC policies adopted by defendants caused Czekalski, from the date of his incarceration at the DOC until April 24, 2017, to be denied access to the 800 mg of ibuprofen three times a day, the dosage he was prescribed to treat his arthritis prior to his incarceration;
b. DOC policies adopted by defendants have caused Czekalski to be denied access to the same type of inhaler that had been prescribed to treat his asthma prior to his incarceration;
c. DOC policies resulted in a change in the timing of Czekalski's receipt of a daily morning dose of anti-depressants, in contravention of the dosing schedule ordered by Dr. Graves;
d. Czekalski has not received boots that are the proper size and width for his feet, resulting in severe blisters and an increased risk of tripping;
e. DOC policies adopted by defendants have denied Czekalski access to the dosage of acetaminophen his treating physician, Dr. Rodd, recommended he take to treat his arthritis;
f. DOC policies adopted by defendants have denied Czekalski access to an appropriate dosage of melatonin on an ...

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