Case: Domenech v. Goord

02-15671 | New York state trial court

Filed Date: 2002

Closed Date: 2005

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

The plaintiff, a New York state prisoner who had been a previous user of alcohol and illegal drugs, but who had been drug-free for thirty years, was diagnosed in prison with Hepatitis C and sought treatment; however, under prison policy, he could only receive treatment if he participated in a program for substance abusers. That program interfered with his schooling and work and, given his long history of not abusing substances, seemed to him an entirely unnecessary requisite to receipt of trea…

The plaintiff, a New York state prisoner who had been a previous user of alcohol and illegal drugs, but who had been drug-free for thirty years, was diagnosed in prison with Hepatitis C and sought treatment; however, under prison policy, he could only receive treatment if he participated in a program for substance abusers. That program interfered with his schooling and work and, given his long history of not abusing substances, seemed to him an entirely unnecessary requisite to receipt of treatment for his condition. His prison grievance on the matter was denied. He filed suit, pro se, in a New York Supreme Court (the name used in that state for many of its trial courts) against state prison officials, alleging that their failure to provide him needed medical care constituted cruel and unusual punishment. He brought his case under New York Civil Practice Law and Rules Article 78. Plaintiff sought an order (1) vacating the prison officials' prior decision requiring his participation in the substance abuse program as a condition of receiving treatment for Hepatitis C, and (2) directing the officials to begin providing him the needed medical care. The defendants conceded that the plaintiff had been, for at least two years, free of drug and alcohol use, but argued that their policy was reasonable and within the wide discretion courts afford prison administration.

On May 28, 2003, Justice Mary H. Smith ruled in plaintiff's favor, finding that the defendants, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, had shown deliberate indifference to plaintiff's medical condition. In the circumstances, the substance abuse program was medically irrelevant and could not be relied upon as a basis for denying needed medical care, according to Justice Smith. On these facts, she found the deliberate denial of medical attention was arbitrary and capricious. The court ordered the defendants to institute medical treatment of plaintiff. On June 11, 2003, the judge amended her judgment, granting plaintiff's petition. The defendants appealed.

On appeal, the plaintiff had private counsel. In a summary order issued on July 5, 2005, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court, stating that under the circumstances the denial of medical treatment to the prisoner pursuant to the appellants' medical treatment policy constituted deliberate indifference to his medical condition in violation of the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment. Domenech v. Goord, 797 N.Y.S.2d 313 (App. Div. 2005) (Judge Sondra M. Miller).

We have no information showing further activity in the case; however, in October 2005, the state's correctional officials issued revisions to their policies to ensure that "programmatic needs" for alcohol and substance abuse treatment do not interfere with individuals' needs for Hepatitis C treatment. Copies of the revisions are with this case's documents in the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse database.

Other cases in the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse database addressing similar claims in New York state and federal courts include PC-NY-51, -53, and -55.

Summary Authors

Mike Fagan (5/1/2008)

People


Judge(s)

Miller, Sondra (New York)

Smith, Mary H. (New York)

Spolzino, Robert A. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Reinert, Alexander A. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Angelico, Elyse J. (New York)

Belohlavek, Michael S. (New York)

Oxhorn, Melanie L. (New York)

Spitzer, Eliot (New York)

Judge(s)

Miller, Sondra (New York)

Smith, Mary H. (New York)

Spolzino, Robert A. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Reinert, Alexander A. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Angelico, Elyse J. (New York)

Belohlavek, Michael S. (New York)

Oxhorn, Melanie L. (New York)

Spitzer, Eliot (New York)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

02-15671

Docket

May 28, 2003

May 28, 2003

Docket

02-15671

[Order]

766 N.Y.S.2d 287

May 28, 2003

May 28, 2003

Order/Opinion

02-15671

Order [Dismissing Appeal]

New York state appellate court

797 N.Y.S.2d 313

July 5, 2005

July 5, 2005

Order/Opinion

02-15671

Memorandum - Hepatitis C Primary Care Guideline

Oct. 13, 2005

Oct. 13, 2005

Internal memorandum

Revised Hepatitis C Guideline

No Court

Oct. 18, 2005

Oct. 18, 2005

Internal memorandum

Docket

Last updated Aug. 24, 2022, 3:04 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Special Collection(s):

Hepatitis C

Key Dates

Filing Date: 2002

Closing Date: 2005

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

52 year-old male inmate of Sing Sing Correctional Facility with Hepatitis C.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: Yes

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

New York State Department of Correctional Services, State

Sing Sing Correctional Facility, None

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Order Duration: 2003 - None

Issues

Affected Gender:

Male

Medical/Mental Health:

Hepatitis

Medication, administration of

Type of Facility:

Government-run