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Porretti v. Dzurenda

United States District Court, D. Nevada

April 12, 2019

WAYNE A. PORRETTI, Plaintiff,
v.
DZURENDA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Richard F. Boulware, II United States District Judge.

         Before this Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction. ECF Nos. 32, 33. Plaintiff is an inmate incarcerated in the Nevada Department of Corrections and currently housed at Lovelock Correctional Center. Plaintiff alleges that he is being denied necessary anti-depressant and anti-psychotic medication and, as a result, is suffering from depression, paranoia, delusions, and hearing voices. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction and orders that Defendants provide Plaintiff a medical evaluation to assess Plaintiff's current medical condition and needs.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed the initial complaint on June 23, 2017 and the operative complaint on September 26, 2018. ECF Nos. 1, 16. On January 9, 2019, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Preliminary Injunction. ECF Nos. 32, 33.

         The Court held a hearing regarding the Motion for Preliminary Injunction on January 18, 2019. ECF No. 44. The Court continued the hearing to receive testimony from psychiatrist Carla Carroll, M.D., an employee of the Nevada Department of Corrections.

         The Court held a second hearing on January 29, 2018 and received testimony from Dr. Carroll. ECF No. 48. On January 30, 2019, the Court issued an order requesting additional medical records and referring Plaintiff to the pro bono program for appointment of counsel. ECF No. 50.

         On April 9, 2019, the Court held a status conference. ECF No. 103. The Court granted the Motion for Preliminary Injunctions for the reasons stated on the record and further explained in this order. The Court stated that it would grant relief in the form of a medical evaluation of Plaintiff, with Defendants to cover costs. The Court expressed its willingness to appoint psychiatrist Norton Roitman, M.D., based on his treatment history with Plaintiff and his established record as a medical expert with this Court. The Court acknowledged Defendants objection to Dr. Roitman and permitted Defendants to submit a list of contracted experts and their credentials by April 18, 2019 as potential alternative avenues for an objective evaluation.

         II. FACTUAL FINDINGS

         The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's medical records and received testimony from psychiatrist Carla Carroll, M.D., an employee of the Nevada Department of Corrections. The medical records submitted in the record are incorporated by reference here. The Court makes the following factual findings based upon the entire record, including medical records and testimony. The Court incorporates by reference its findings on the record at the hearing on April 9.

         Prior to Plaintiff's incarceration, Plaintiff was treated by Dr. Roitman. Dr. Roitman prescribed Seroquel and Wellbutrin to manage Plaintiff's mental health symptoms, and these prescriptions were initially continued by prison doctors upon Plaintiff's incarceration. Dr. Roitman found these medications to be medically necessary given Plaintiff's mental health diagnoses. Dr. Roitman found Plaintiff to be a credible reporter of his symptoms and the effectiveness of the medications prescribed to Plaintiff. The Court credits these findings and observations based upon the record and the Court's own observations.

         Defendants discontinued Plaintiff's prescriptions for Seroquel and Wellbutrin on May 31, 2017 absent the recommendation of a psychiatric health care provider to do so. Defendants had no medical basis for discontinuing the medications. These medications were allegedly discontinued due to their potential for abuse. However, the Court is unconvinced of this alleged motivation. Defendants had no information that Plaintiff had ever abused his medications or misused them as contraband. Plaintiff was not medically monitored when his medications were discontinued although he should have been to provide adequate medical care for his mental health ailments. Plaintiff was not seen by a mental health provider until September 13, 2017, at which time he was prescribed alternative medications. Plaintiff has not received any Seroquel or Wellbutrin since the discontinuation of these prescriptions in May 2017.

         On January 29, 2019, the Court obtained testimony from Dr. Carroll. Dr. Carroll testified that, in her opinion, Seroquel and Wellbutrin are not medically necessary for Plaintiff. She diagnosed Plaintiff with only personality disorder, Tourette's syndrome, and malingering and opined that Plaintiff has no other diagnoses.

         The Court now finds that Dr. Carroll's limited diagnoses of Plaintiff and her medical opinion that Seroquel and Wellbutrin are not medically necessary for Plaintiff are not credible as compared to the diagnoses and prescriptions in Plaintiff's medical record. The Court finds that Dr. Carroll did not have or take the necessary time to complete an adequate and complete examination of Plaintiff and that her records review appears to have been tailored to supporting the Defendants' existing position that Plaintiff does not need the medications he had been previously prescribed. The Court notes that Dr. Carroll is an employee of NDOC.

         Plaintiff's medical record includes credible and documented diagnoses of depression, attention deficit disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizoaffective disorder or paranoid schizophrenia, personality disorder, and Tourette's syndrome issued by in-person treating physicians. Plaintiff was prescribed Seroquel and Wellbutrin by Dr. Roitman, who treated Plaintiff in person for years. Dr. Carroll's summary dismissal of all of Plaintiff's diagnoses except personality ...


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