New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
TYLER v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2020-059-003, Claim No. 129812

Synopsis

Case information

UID: 2020-059-003
Claimant(s): DEMOND TYLER
Claimant short name: TYLER
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 129812
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: MAUREEN T. LICCIONE
Claimant's attorney: DEMOND TYLER, pro se
Defendant's attorney: HON. LETITIA JAMES, ATTORNEY GENERAL
By: Dorothy M. Keogh, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: January 17, 2020
City: Hauppauge
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

This is a claim by Demond Tyler ("Tyler" or "Claimant"), an inmate appearing pro se, against the defendant the State of New York ("Defendant" or "State") alleging that he is entitled to money damages for the pain and suffering he experienced due to medical negligence committed by the Defendant's agents while Claimant was incarcerated at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility ("Sing Sing"). A trial was held via video conference on November 21, 2019 with the parties at Sing Sing and the Court sitting in Hauppauge, New York.

Tyler's claim alleged that on a number of occasions between December 2014 and October 2015 he had complained to Sing Sing medical staff of gastrointestinal issues, nausea, and abdominal pain and was evaluated by Sing Sing medical staff. The claim indicates that x-rays were taken during the September 2015 examination. Throughout this one year period Tyler was diagnosed with constipation and intestinal gas. The medical records also indicate that a bullet remained lodged in Claimant's abdomen as the result of a gun shot wound.

Tyler testified that on Friday, March 4, 2016, while he was playing chess in the A Block gym, he became overwhelmed with severe pain and broke into a cold sweat. He refused a wheel chair. Tyler asserted that he then was escorted to the Sing Sing medical facility while doubled over and using walls for support. He testified that he was examined, provided Mylanta and ibuprofen and then ordered back to his cell. The medical record provided by Defendant did not contain any evidence of medical treatment on Friday, March 4. However, the State did not dispute any of Tyler's allegations regarding his condition or treatment on March 4.

Tyler's undisputed allegations were that during the ensuing weekend he experienced increased and excruciating pain, was unable to sleep or have bowel movements and vomited green bile. When he asked to be taken to the Sing Sing medical facility he was told that no medical staff were available on the weekend. On Sunday, March 6, he made a sick call request to be seen the next morning. During the night of March 6 into the next morning he experienced what he described as extreme pain, vomited green bile and called out to a correction officer to help him get to a hospital. He testified that at 4 a.m. on the morning of Monday, March 7, he was taken to the Sing Sing medical facility by wheelchair. X-rays were taken and the physician on duty again diagnosed Tyler with constipation and intestinal gas. Tyler protested, complained of his extreme pain and indicated that the medications being offered again had not relieved his pain or symptoms over the past few days. The medical record notations indicate that Tyler became angry and began cursing. Tyler testified that he was threatened with a misbehavior report and was escorted back to his cell on foot.

Medical records from Monday, March 7 notes that Tyler had been seen at the Sing Sing medical facility on Friday, March 4 and that Tyler had vomited bile prior to Monday. The notations also indicate that the March 7 examination revealed tenderness in the right upper quadrant of Tyler's abdomen (Exh. 1).

Tyler testified that while being escorted back to his cell, Sergeant Moss observed his condition and called the physician who was the "head" of the Sing Sing medical staff. She asked that he be brought back down to the medical facility. Tyler was again examined, provided with heartburn and pain medication and scheduled for blood tests and other diagnostic procedures which were to take place the next day, Tuesday, March 8, 2016.

Tyler's undisputed testimony was that he experienced intense pain through Monday night into Tuesday morning, was unable to sleep and again vomited green bile. He was taken to the Sing Sing medical facility early Tuesday morning by a correction officer who had observed Tyler's condition. The attending doctor provided Tyler Maalox and told him to return to his cell. He protested, noted his extreme pain and indicated he was unable to walk. He then was examined by another physician.

Tyler alleged that after the examination by a second doctor he was taken to Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital ("Montefiore") during the afternoon of Tuesday March 8, where a number of medical examinations were conducted. It is undisputed that emergency surgery to remove Tyler's gallbladder was performed that night. The Montefiore discharge summary dated March 10, 2016 indicated that the ultrasound performed on March 8 at Montefiore revealed that Tyler had an "impacted gallstone" in the "neck of his gallbladder", a "markedly thickened gallbladder wall", a "significant amount of biliary sludge within the gallbladder lumen" and "acute cholecystitis" (Exh. 1).

The State produced no witnesses, but moved to dismiss because Claimant had not provided medical testimony to show a deviation for accepted medical standards as it claimed was necessary to state a claim for medical negligence or medical malpractice.

"It is fundamental law that the State has a duty to provide reasonable and adequate medical care to the inmates of its prisons" (Garofolo v State of New York, 135 AD3d 1108 [3d Dept 2016], quoting Rivers v State of New York, 159 AD2d 788, 789 [3d Dept 1990], lv denied, 76 NY2d 701 [1990]). In determining whether such care was provided, "there is a subtle distinction between medical negligence and medical malpractice" (Livingston v State of New York, UID No. 2014-044-009 [Ct Cl, Schaewe, J., Oct. 14, 2014]). The Court of Appeals has recognized that although a medical provider "in a general sense is always furnishing medical care to patients . . . not every act of negligence toward a patient would be medical malpractice" (Bleiler v Bodnar, 65 NY2d 65, 73 [1985]). "The distinction between ordinary negligence and malpractice turns on whether the acts or omissions complained of involve a matter of medical science or art requiring special skills not ordinarily possessed by lay persons or whether the conduct complained of can instead be assessed on the basis of the common everyday experience of the trier of the facts" (Fragosa v Haider, 17 AD3d 526, 527 [2d Dept 2005] ([internal quotation marks and citations omitted]).

"Ordinarily, expert medical opinion evidence, based on suitable hypotheses, is required when the subject-matter to be inquired about is presumed not to be within common knowledge and experience and when legal inference predominates over statement of fact, to furnish the basis for a determination by a jury of unskillful practice and medical treatment by physicians; but where the matters are within the experience and observation of the ordinary jurymen from which they may draw their own conclusions and the facts are of such a nature as to require no special knowledge or skill, the opinion of experts is unnecessary" (Meiselman v Crown Hgts. Hosp., Inc., 285 NY 389, 396 [1941].

Here, it is within the "experience and observation" of the Court, sitting as the trier of fact, and without special medical "knowledge or skill" to "draw...[a] "conclusion[]" as to whether the Sing Sing medical staff committed medical negligence and caused Tyler pain and suffering by failing to transport Tyler to Montefiore prior the afternoon of March 8 (Id). Tyler's uncontested testimony as to his extreme pain since Friday March 4 and the medical record reports of vomiting of bile during that time lead the Court to conclude that Tyler should have been transported to the hospital for medical tests and treatment by March 7, 2016, at the latest.

Accordingly, Tyler is awarded damages for the pain and suffering he experienced for the twenty-four hour period from March 7 to March 8, 2016 in the amount of $2,500.00. To the extent Claimant has paid a filing fee, it may be recovered pursuant to Court of Claims Act 11-a(2).

Let judgment be entered accordingly.

January 17, 2020

Hauppauge , New York

MAUREEN T. LICCIONE

Judge of the Court of Claims