Claimant, an inmate proceeding pro se, alleges that the defendant failed to
provide him adequate medical care at Washington Correctional Facility from March
17, 2004 through July 2004 and thereafter at Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility
from July 2004 and continuing.
proceeded to trial on April 30, 2009.
According to the allegations in the claim, claimant reported to the infirmary
at Washington Correctional Facility on April 16, 2004 with complaints of
shoulder and arm pain. He was given an appointment with Dr. Trachtman who
advised him that he could find nothing wrong. At a subsequent appointment Dr.
Trachtman prescribed Methocarbamol to be taken by the claimant twice daily and
recommended therapy (claim, par. "3 [B]"). He later returned to the infirmary
on numerous occasions with complaints of pain in his back which, he contends,
were ignored (claim, par. "3[D]" and par. "3[E]"). Claimant alleges that he was
transferred to Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility in July of 2004 where he was
"given the same treatment he was receiving at Washington" until an MRI
performed on September 23, 2004 revealed cervical disc disease (see claim
pars. “3[F] and [G]”). Claimant alleges that as of the date of the
claim, nothing has been done to “repair the damage to his spine, or to
relieve the pain that he continually suffers from” (claim par.
“3[H]”). Claimant alleges that “[t]he accrual date on this
matter is still pending as the Claimant is still awaiting corrective
surgery” (see claim par. “4”).
Claimant testified at trial that he injured his back and was given only
medication for the pain no other treatment. He testified that he was sent to
Comstock Correctional Facility for X-ray examination and was advised that no
problems were revealed. He still had pain, however, and underwent a course of
physical therapy at Coxsackie Correctional Facility. He was then transferred to
Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility where he was advised by a physician that a CT
scan was unnecessary. The pain continued, however, and he was referred for an
MRI examination in September 2004. The claimant testified that the MRI scan
revealed that his cervical discs were out of alignment and surgery was approved
on November 23, 2004. Claimant testified that although he should have been
placed on medical hold, he was transferred to Arthur Kill Correctional Facility.
Claimant testified that he underwent surgery on June 8, 2005.
Received in evidence were claimant's health record (Exhibit 1), Transfer
Discharge Summary from Albany Medical Center (Exhibit 2) and forms reflecting
the claimant's transfers between facilities from July 2004 through October 2005.
On cross-examination claimant testified that he is 75 years of age and that he
was injured in April 2004. He underwent an X-ray examination in June 2004, and
physical therapy from June 2004 onward. He also had an MRI examination in
September 2004 and a laminectomy on June 8, 2005.
At the conclusion of the trial, defendant moved for dismissal for failure to
establish a prima facie case.
Claimant's Exhibit 1 reflects that surgery was approved on November 23, 2004
and claimant's Exhibit 2 indicates that claimant underwent a "C7-T1 corpectomy,
C6-T2 anterior cervical fusion" at Albany Medical Center Hospital on June 8,
2005. Review of the medical records received as defendant's Exhibit A reflect
that claimant was seen by several physicians who prescribed a course of
physical therapy together with anti-inflammatory and pain medications. As the
pain in claimant's extremities persisted, he was referred for an MRI examination
and surgical consultation. Claimant thereafter underwent surgery on June 8,
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
). However, as made clear by the Court in Myers v State of New
York (46 AD3d 1030 ) "[w]hether the claim is grounded in negligence or
medical malpractice, 'where medical issues are not within the ordinary
experience and knowledge of lay persons, expert medical testimony is a required
element of a prima facie case' " (Id. at 1031; see also
Trottie v State of New York, 39 AD3d 1094 ; Lowe v State of New
York, 35 AD3d 1281 ). Here, the issue of whether or not adequate
medical care was provided for the claimant's condition is not one within the
ordinary experience and knowledge of lay persons. Claimant therefore failed to
establish a prima facie case of negligence or medical malpractice. Accordingly,
defendant's motion for dismissal is granted and the claim is dismissed.
Let judgment be entered accordingly.