New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MURRAY v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2007-015-568, Claim No. 110923


Synopsis


Pro se inmate's claim for delay in providing medical treatment was dismissed after trial. Claimant's failure to present evidence of a breach in prison protocol or other evidence of a deviation in the Standard of Care was fatal to his claim. Additionally, claimant failed to present expert testimony to establish that the purported delay in treatment was the cause of his ensuing medical problems.

Case Information

UID:
2007-015-568
Claimant(s):
JOEL MURRAY
Claimant short name:
MURRAY
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
110923
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant’s attorney:
Joel Murray, Pro Se
Defendant’s attorney:
Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney General
By: Michael T. Krenrich, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
November 20, 2007
City:
Saratoga Springs
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Claimant, an inmate in the custody of the Department of Correctional Services, brings this claim pro se alleging causes of action for medical malpractice and negligence arising out of the alleged denial of medical treatment on March 22, 2005. The claim proceeded to trial on September 12, 2007.


The claimant testified that on March 22, 2005 while in the law library at Great Meadow Correctional Facility (Great Meadow) he suffered stomach pain and requested emergency "sick call" from the correction officer present. The correction officer called the infirmary but, according to the claimant, his request for emergency sick call was denied and he was advised to report to sick call the next day. The claimant eventually returned to his cell on March 22, 2005 and was treated in the infirmary the next day, March 23, 2005. The claimant testified that in April 2005 an ultrasound examination indicated that he had "worms" in his stomach and that in September 2005 he tested positive for H. Pylori.

Claimant's next witness was Correction Officer Curt Poirier who testified that on March 22, 2005 he was working in the law library at Great Meadow and observed the claimant on the floor complaining of stomach pain. At the claimant's request, Correction Officer Poirier called the medical department and was advised to tell the claimant to sign up for sick call the next day. This concluded the claimant's case in chief.

The defendant called Ted Nesmith to testify at trial. Mr. Nesmith is a Physician's Assistant employed at Great Meadow. Upon review of the claimant's ambulatory health records (Exhibit B) Mr. Nesmith testified that the claimant was seen on March 23, 2005 by a physician who noted his impression that the claimant had acid reflux and prescribed Prilosec. Mr. Nesmith testified that acid reflux is not an emergency condition. The witness also reviewed claimant's ambulatory health records prior to the date of the alleged denial of treatment and testified that he had previously recorded his impression that the claimant was "malingering" (Exhibit A).

On cross-examination Mr. Nesmith testified that laboratory reports received in evidence as claimant's Exhibit 8 indicate that the claimant tested positive for H. Pylori in June 2005 and that a similar test was negative in March 2006. Mr. Nesmith testified that H. Pylori is a bacteria that sometimes causes ulcers.
Review of the claimant's ambulatory health records received in evidence as Exhibit B

indicate that the claimant was treated on March 14, 2005 for gastritis, that blood was drawn by a laboratory technician on March 21, 2005, that the claimant was treated on March 23, 2005 and thereafter on numerous occasions for various physical complaints.

Claimant's causes of action for malpractice and negligence arising out of the alleged failure to provide medical treatment on March 22, 2005 must be dismissed. Undoubtedly, the State has the fundamental duty to provide adequate medical care to inmates in its prisons without undue delay (Kagan v State of New York, 221 AD2d 7 [1996]). However, to succeed on a claim for delayed medical treatment it is the claimant's duty to present evidence of a breach in prison protocols or other evidence of a deviation from the appropriate standard of care (Trottie v State of New York, 39 AD3d 1094 [2007]). Where such a breach or deviation is established, liability does not attach absent competent expert evidence that the delay was a cause of the inmate's ensuing medical problems (id.; Lowe v State of New York, 35 AD3d 1281 [2006]). Claimant failed to establish at trial either a breach in protocol or a deviation from the appropriate standard of medical care. Additionally, the claimant failed to establish that the alleged one day delay in treatment was a proximate cause of any medical problem.

Based on the foregoing, the claim is dismissed. Let judgment be entered accordingly.



November 20, 2007
Saratoga Springs, New York

HON. FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Judge of the Court of Claims