New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

SCAFE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2009-016-001, Claim No. 109357


Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

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

Cross-motion number(s):

Alan C. Marin
Claimant’s attorney:
Roderick Scafe, Pro Se
Defendant’s attorney:
Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney GeneralJames E. Shoemaker, Esq., AAG
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
January 14, 2009
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This decision follows the trial of the claim of Roderick Scafe in which Mr. Scafe alleges that while he was incarcerated at Woodbourne Correctional Facility, his high blood pressure medication was changed without his “informed consent,” resulting in various side effects and a rise in his blood pressure.

Claimant testified that on December 24, 2003, he was seen by Dr. Mervat Makram at Woodbourne, and was prescribed two new medications for his high blood pressure. Scafe said that on January 6, 2004, he saw Dr. Makram again and informed her that he was experiencing swelling and extreme pain in his feet, which he maintained were side effects from the medications. He testified that Dr. Makram prescribed medication for the swelling of his feet, which she said was caused by uric acid in his blood. Claimant implied that this was an incorrect conclusion because he had “had blood work done on the fifteenth of January, the result of which showed no uric acid in my system. In the meantime I was directed to continue the medication . . .”

Scafe said that he saw Dr. Makram again on January 22, 2004. He recalled that while he was in her office, she requested that his cell be searched and that all his medication be brought to her. Claimant explained that “[i]t was based on this search” that Dr. Makram accused him of not taking his medication and told him to “get out of my office.” Claimant said he was not given a chance to speak to her and explain why he had stopped taking the medication, which he described as “inappropriate.”

Essentially, claimant maintains that Dr. Makram was negligent in prescribing medication for him without “first checking the side effects that I had, especially when I was already experiencing the same side effect from the previous medication that was prescribed for me. That’s . . . my whole claim.” He added that the side effects in question also included stomach and chest pain and, “I was getting heart problems.”

Finally, Scafe testified that he has had high blood pressure since 1996 and that when he was first prescribed medication, he did not have any side effects. He also said that after being transferred out of Woodbourne to another facility, his medications were at some point changed from those prescribed by Dr. Makram, and the new medications “bring down my blood pressure to normal.”
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Dr. Mervat Makram testified that she is the full-time physician at Woodbourne Correctional Facility, where she supervises another part-time physician. She recalled that Scafe came to Woodbourne on May 16, 2003, and that his intake records indicate that he was suffering from high blood pressure at the time, and was taking two medications, Clonidine, which is an “alpha blocker,” and Hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic. Dr. Makram proceeded to explain in detail how claimant was treated for his high blood pressure once he arrived at Woodbourne.

The doctor said that on May 14, 2003, while claimant was still at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, i.e., two days before his transfer to Woodbourne, he had a blood test which showed a very high level of uric acid in his blood. Dr. Makram explained that high levels of uric acid can cause abdominal pain, severe arthritis of the joints (especially the feet), kidney stones and edema of the lower extremities. She said that because Hydrochlorothiazide, one of the blood pressure medications that claimant was on at the time of his transfer, can raise uric acid levels, she decided to stop that medication. Dr. Makram recalled that she saw Scafe on June 16, 2003, at which time she discussed this with him. She added that every time he saw a physician his medications and any side effects were explained to him. At that time, she also increased his dosage of Clonidine. Claimant was directed to have his blood pressure checked twice a week for four weeks and he was also scheduled for an echocardiogram, the result of which was ultimately normal.

Dr. Makram saw claimant again on July 15, 2003. She said that his blood pressure was still high and he was complaining of dizziness and cramps. Dr. Makram said she told claimant that the dizziness might be a side effect of the increased Clonidine, so she reduced that dosage. She also added another blood pressure medication known as Metroprolol, a “beta blocker” which Dr. Makram believed claimant would respond better to. In addition to regulating Scafe’s medication, she prescribed him a low salt diet with increased fiber.

Dr. Makram testified that she saw claimant again on August 19, 2003, at which time his blood pressure remained high, which “prompted me to question his compliance with the medications . . .” Since his blood pressure was “critically” high at that time, she increased his medication.

Dr. Makram testified that thereafter, “his blood pressure was constantly critically high . . . I was concerned about Mr. Scafe having a heart attack or a stroke. So, therefore, I said after changing the medications back and forth and increasing medication, deleting medication, adding on medications and still the blood pressure is not responding, that’s really a high indication of noncompliance [to] me . . .” Thus, on January 22, 2004, after reviewing claimant’s chart, Dr. Makram requested that his cell be searched and all medications brought to her. She counted the medications and learned that Scafe had not been taking the medication as prescribed, but was “still accusing this writer of giving him medication that caused the swelling of his feet and

legs . . . There was . . . no confidence between patient and physician and I asked for him not to be seen by me again because he refused to take my advice, take my prescribed medications.” She added that “compliance is the utmost importance . . . to treat blood pressure that’s not responding to medications.”

It should be noted that there was no allegation that claimant ceased to be provided with medical treatment after the incident with Dr. Makram on January 22, 2004. To the contrary, claimant testified as to various treatments thereafter for his high blood pressure and other ailments.
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“It is well settled that the State owes a duty to its incarcerated citizens to provide them with adequate medical care.” Kagan v State of New York, 221 AD2d 7, 8, 646 NYS2d 336, 337 (2d Dept 1996). It is undisputed that claimant was provided with medical treatment for his high blood pressure. In order to prevail here, claimant would be required to present testimony from a physician that there was a deviation from accepted standards of medical care in connection with such treatment, which proximately caused him injury. See, e.g., Lyons v McCauley, 252 AD2d 516, 675 NYS2d 375 (2d Dept 1998), lv denied 92 NY2d 814, 681 NYS2d 475 (1998). Claimant failed to present any such testimony. Accordingly, claim no. 109357 is dismissed.


January 14, 2009
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims