New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

RODRIGUEZ v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2003-009-118, Claim No. 104102


Synopsis


This claim alleging negligence for failure to provide claimant with his prescribed medication following surgery was dismissed due to the absence of any medical testimony.

Case Information

UID:
2003-009-118
Claimant(s):
HECTOR RODRIGUEZ
Claimant short name:
RODRIGUEZ
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
104102
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
NICHOLAS V. MIDEY JR.
Claimant's attorney:
HECTOR RODRIGUEZ, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General
BY: Joel L. Marmelstein, Esq.,
Assistant Attorney GeneralOf Counsel.
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
September 16, 2003
City:
Syracuse
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Decision
Claimant, an inmate appearing
pro se, alleges negligence against the State for its failure to provide him with proper and adequate medical treatment. A trial was held on this claim at Marcy Correctional Facility on July 9, 2003, at which time claimant was the sole witness.
According to his claim and trial testimony, claimant underwent an operation on June 30, 1999, while he was incarcerated at Mohawk Correctional Facility, to repair ingrown toenails on each of his great toes. Following the surgery, claimant was sent back to his room in the dormitory at the facility, but he asserts that he did not receive his prescribed medication to relieve his pain until July 6, 1999. Claimant therefore seeks damages for the pain and suffering which resulted because of the delay of approximately seven days in which he claims he was not given his prescribed medication.

A certified copy of claimant's medical records was entered into evidence (see Defendant's Exhibit A), and the Court also received copies of the medical records which had been provided to claimant (see Claimant's Exhibit 1).

A review of these records confirms that the operation to correct the two ingrown toenails was performed on June 30, 1999, and Keflex (500 milligrams to be taken twice a day for a two week period) was prescribed in fact to start on that day. There are notations in the medical records that the Keflex was started on June 30
th (see, medical records dated July 6, 1999, and notations on the consultation report dated June 30, 1999). At trial, however, claimant introduced a prescription envelope, indicating that the Keflex (cephalexin) was not provided to him until July 6, 1999. It was claimant's position that this prescription is confirmation that there was a delay from June 30, 1999 to July 6, 1999 before claimant received his prescribed medication, even though the notes set forth in claimant's medical records indicate that this medication had been provided to claimant as of June 30, 1999.
It is well settled that the State has a duty to provide reasonable and adequate medical care to the inmates of its correctional facilities (
Rivers v State of New York, 159 AD2d 788, lv denied 76 NY2d 701). If the alleged negligent act or omission is readily determinable by the trier of fact based upon common knowledge, the appropriate theory of recovery is negligence (Coursen v New York Hospital-Cornell Med. Center, 114 AD2d 254). However, if a patient's treatment, or lack thereof, is in controversy, a claim is more appropriately premised upon the more particularized theory of medical malpractice (Hale v State of New York, 53 AD2d 1025, lv denied 40 NY2d 804). Whether a claim is couched in terms of negligence or medical malpractice, expert medical proof will be required if the issues involve conditions beyond the common knowledge of a fact finder (Duffen v State of New York, 245 AD2d 653, lv denied 91 NY2d 810).
In this case, even if the Court were to credit claimant's testimony that he was denied his medication for approximately seven days (though this testimony was contradicted by numerous entries in his health records), claimant did not produce any expert medical testimony as to the effect, if any, that the lack of such medication during this time contributed to the normal pain to be expected following his surgery. The question of whether medications, or the lack thereof, may have contributed to an injury is not a matter which can be decided in the absence of expert testimony (
Duffen v State of New York, supra).
Therefore, the Court must find that claimant has failed to establish his claim by a preponderance of the credible evidence. Accordingly, this claim must therefore be dismissed.

Any motions not heretofore ruled upon are hereby denied.

LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.


September 16, 2003
Syracuse, New York

HON. NICHOLAS V. MIDEY JR.
Judge of the Court of Claims