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Goulette v. Kalinski

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division

August 20, 2019




         THIS MATTER is before the Court on a motion to dismiss, (Doc. No. 30), filed by Defendant Marta M. Kalinski, M.D., pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendant is represented by Elizabeth McCullough and Madeleine Pfefferle of Young, Moore and Henderson, P.A.


         Pro se Plaintiff Arthur Jay Goulette is a North Carolina prisoner incarcerated at Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville, North Carolina. Plaintiff filed this action on March 16, 2018, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming as Defendants (1) Marta Kalinski, a doctor at Alexander at all relevant times (“Dr. Kalinski”); and (2) Benjamin M. Anderson, the Assistant Superintendent for Programs II at Alexander at all relevant times. Plaintiff amended his Complaint on May 24, 2018. (Doc. No. 12). Plaintiff brought this action attempting to allege claims for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, medical malpractice, retaliation, and conspiracy against Dr. Kalinski relating to medical care she provided to him while he was incarcerated at Alexander Correctional Institution (“Alexander”) from May 2016 through May 24, 2018. (Doc. No. 12). Plaintiff requests compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief in the form of occupational therapy, physical therapy, surgeries on his neck, back, and legs, treatment for chronic migraines, and to be housed at Central Prison in the medical unit. (Id.).

         On August 2, 2018, the Court conducted a frivolity review and allowed Plaintiff's deliberate indifference claim to proceed. (Doc. No. 15). Dr. Kalinski has now filed the pending motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). On December 18, 2018, this Court entered an order giving Plaintiff notice of his right to respond to the motion to dismiss. (Doc. No. 33). Plaintiff filed his response to the motion to dismiss, Defendant filed a Reply, and this matter is ripe for disposition. (Doc. Nos. 36, 37).


         Plaintiff was transferred from Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina, to Alexander Correctional Institution (“Alexander”) on May 6, 2016. (Doc. No. 12-1 at 1). While incarcerated at Central Prison, Plaintiff was receiving medical treatment for migraines and neck, back, and hand injuries. (Id.). Regarding his hand, Plaintiff was being provided occupational therapy to determine whether he would benefit from surgical intervention. (Id.). Once transferred to Alexander, Dr. Kalinski decreased and discontinued the orders entered by the Central Prison doctors. (Id.). Specifically, Dr. Kalinski discontinued an order for an MRI and occupational therapy. (Id.).

         On December 4, 2016, Plaintiff sustained injuries to his neck, back, pelvis, hips, and right hand when he fell due to water from a pipe burst. (Id.). The following day, Plaintiff was seen by a nurse in an emergency encounter during which the nurse reported to a physician assistant that Plaintiff should have been taken to the hospital the previous day. (Id. at 1-2). The physician assistant instructed the nurse that Plaintiff would need to be seen by Dr. Kalinski before he could be taken to the hospital. (Id. at 2). Plaintiff, however, was not seen by Dr. Kalinski and was not taken to the hospital despite submitting sick calls regarding his alleged injuries and allegedly being referred to Dr. Kalinski from those sick calls. (Id.). Plaintiff does not allege, however, that Dr. Kalinski was aware of the sick calls or that she refused to treat Plaintiff.

         Plaintiff fell on January 22, 2017, due to a faulty sink in his cell. (Id. at 3). Plaintiff was knocked unconscious and taken to Catawba Valley Medical Center Hospital, where he was treated by Dr. Jon A. Giometti. (Id.). Dr. Giometti referred him back to his primary care provider within the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (“NCDPS”). (Id.). Upon his return from the hospital, Plaintiff was not reevaluated in connection with the injuries he sustained. (Id.). On September 22, 2017, Plaintiff's physical therapist informed him that an MRI performed on his cervical spine in February revealed that he had fractures in his neck. (Id. at 4). Plaintiff alleges that Defendants displayed blatant disregard by not informing him of the results of that MRI. (Id.).

         Throughout his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Kalinski discontinued and decreased treatment for his chronic pain and injuries. Specifically, Dr. Kalinski decreased his pain medications on January 19, 2017. (Id. at 3). Dr. Kalinski discontinued his occupational therapy on June 27, 2017, which had been previously approved by the Utilization Review Board and prescribed by his Central Prison doctors. (Id.). Dr. Kalinski again discontinued his occupational therapy in January 2018. (Id. at 4). Defendants decreased and discontinued his prescription for Tramadol. (Id. at 5).

         Plaintiff also alleges that appointments scheduled with Dr. Kalinski had to be rescheduled due to emergencies on six occasions. (Id. at 4). As a result of the alleged delay in treatment, Plaintiff has permanent injuries, including nerve damage, partial paralysis, prolonged neck and back pain, dizziness, recurring chronic migraines, difficulty multitasking, narrowing disc in his lower back, sciatica, pain and spasms in his back, and pain in his legs. (Id.). Additionally, Plaintiff was assaulted twice as a result of Dr. Kalinski failing to put him in a medical housing unit and told that he was faking his injury. (Id at 5-6).

         Based on the above factual allegations, Plaintiff purports to bring a claim against Dr. Kalinski for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Plaintiff also purports to be bringing a state law claim for medical malpractice. Plaintiff further alleges that Dr. Kalinski retaliated against him in delaying his treatment because he has a lawsuit pending against NCDPS. (Doc. No. 12 at 4). Finally, Plaintiff also purports to bring a conspiracy claim against Dr. Kalinski by alleging that, on January 19, 2017, Dr. Kalinski decreased his pain medications in conspiracy with Defendant Anderson and other medical and custody staff. (Id.). Plaintiff also alleges he fell on December 4, 2016, due to a busted pipe and on January 22, 2017, due to a faulty sink in his cell. (Id at 1-3). Plaintiff alleges that Defendants were conspiring to avoid fixing the sink, thus causing his falls. (Id at 3).


         On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the Court must accept the factual allegations of the claim as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Coleman v. Maryland Ct. of Appeals, 626 F.3d 187, 189 (4th Cir. 2010). To survive the motion, the “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, ‘to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). To be “plausible on its face, ” a plaintiff must demonstrate more than “a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id A plaintiff therefore must “articulate facts, when accepted as true, that ‘show' that the ...

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