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Wooten v. Khan

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

June 7, 2017

DR. KHALID KHAN, Defendant.


          Denise J. Casper United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff DeSean Wooten (“Wooten”) brings claims against Defendant Dr. Khalid Khan (spelled as Kahn in some pleadings) (“Khan”), alleging that Khan violated 28 U.S.C. § 1983 by failing to provide medical treatment to Wooten in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. D. 5. Wooten also asserts a negligence claim against Khan. Id. Khan now moves to dismiss Wooten's complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). D. 25.

         II. Standard of Review

         The Court will grant a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) if the complaint fails to plead sufficient facts that “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). When considering a motion to dismiss, the Court is tasked with “separat[ing] the factual allegations from the conclusory statements in order to analyze whether the former, if taken as true, set forth a ‘plausible, not merely a conceivable, case for relief.'” Juárez v. Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc., 708 F.3d 269, 276 (1st Cir. 2013) (quoting Ocasio-Hernández v. Fortuño-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011)). In conducting this examination, the court must not “attempt to forecast a plaintiff's likelihood of success on the merits, ” id. (internal quotation marks omitted), but instead “give the plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences.” Ruiz v. Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp., 496 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2007) (citing Rogan v. Menino, 175 F.3d 75, 77 (1st Cir. 1999)).

         When a plaintiff is pro se, the Court must apply a liberal reading to the complaint and hold pro se litigants to a less stringent pleading standard than that applied to lawyers. Kruskall v. Sallie Mae Serv., Inc., No. 15-cv-11780-DJC, 2016 WL 1056973, at *1 (D. Mass. Mar. 14, 2016) (citing Green v. Commonwealth of Mass., 108 F.R.D. 217, 218 (D. Mass. 1985)). A pro se plaintiff, however, must still comply with procedural and substantive law and “dismissal remains appropriate . . . when the complaint fails to even suggest an actionable claim.” Overton v. Torruella, 183 F.Supp.2d 295, 303 (D. Mass. 2001).

         III. Factual Background

         The following factual summary is based upon the allegations in the amended complaint, D. 5, and are accepted as true for the consideration of Khan's motion to dismiss.

         Wooten is an inmate at Bridgewater State Hospital (“BSH”) where Khan serves as the head medical director in charge of medical operations involving prisoners. D. 5 ¶¶ 3-4. In November or early December 2015, Wooten had an “emotional meltdown” and injured himself by giving himself a perforated bowel. Id. ¶ 6. Thereafter, Khan neglected to treat Wooten's injuries and placed him a restricted cell. Id. It was not until Wooten developed a fever and was barely able to walk-roughly twenty-four hours later-that Khan sent Wooten to an outside hospital for medical treatment. Id. ¶¶ 6, 8. At the outside facility, Wooten remained emotionally distraught and refused treatment. Id. ¶ 8. The resulting infection was so severe, however, that he was sent to an outside hospital a second time at which point he accepted treatment. Id. ¶¶ 8-9. Wooten remained at the outside hospital for treatment for roughly seven weeks. Id. ¶ 9. Upon his release from the outside facility in January 2016, Wooten was provided with a discharge summary plan and prescribed medications according to that plan. Id. ¶¶ 10, 12, 17. Khan, however, did not follow the discharge summary plan and did not provide Wooten with the prescribed medications in accordance with the plan. Id. ¶¶ 10, 12, 17. Thereafter, on September 22, 2016, Wooten had a second “emotional meltdown” as a result of the months of pain and suffering he experienced. Id. ¶ 14. This time, Wooten hurt himself again which ultimately led to an operation to remove a series of objects from his small intestine. Id.

         IV. Procedural History

         Wooten instituted this action on August 5, 2016. D. 1. Khan has now moved to dismiss Wooten's amended complaint, D. 5. D. 25.

         V. Motion to Dismiss

         A. The Court Will Not Dismiss Wooten's Eighth Amendment Claim

         Khan first asserts that Wooten has not alleged a cognizable Eighth Amendment violation for the medical treatment Wooten received from Khan. D. 25-1 at 2-3. The Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment shields prisoners from medical mistreatment or neglect for physical and mental health ailments. Feeney v. Corr. Med. Servs., Inc., 464 F.3d 158, 161 (1st Cir. 2006); Torraco v. Maloney, 923 F.2d 231, 234-35 (1st Cir. 1991). For medical treatment to offend the Constitution, the care must involve “acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference” to serious medical needs. Id. (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105-06 (1976)) (internal quotation marks omitted). “To succeed on a claim of deliberate indifference based on inadequate or delayed medical care, ‘a plaintiff must satisfy both a subjective and objective inquiry'” in which he first establishes that the deprivation was sufficiently serious and then that the prison officials charged had a culpable state of mind as to the prisoner's medical need. Perry v. Roy, 782 F.3d 73, 78 (1st Cir. 2015). To fulfill the objective test, the plaintiff must establish that he had a serious medical need that was either diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or so obvious that a layperson ...

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