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Smith v. Doe

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 10, 2017

LAHEEM SMITH, Plaintiff,
JANE DOE 1, et al., Defendants.


          Michael P. Shea United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Laheem Smith, currently incarcerated at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut, filed this case pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting claims for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. Plaintiff names as defendants Nurse Jane Doe 1 and Head Nurse Jane Doe 2 from New Haven Correctional Center, Physician's Assistant Kevin McCrystal from MacDougall, and the Review Committee of the University of Connecticut Health Center. He seeks damages and injunctive relief. The complaint was received by the Court on December 12, 2016. The plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on December 21, 2016. (ECF No. 6.)

         The Court must review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. In reviewing a pro se complaint, the Court must assume the truth of the allegations, and interpret them liberally to “raise the strongest arguments [they] suggest[].” Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007). Although detailed allegations are not required, the complaint must include sufficient facts to afford the defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and to demonstrate a plausible right to relief. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Conclusory allegations are not sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Nevertheless, it is well-established that “[p]ro se complaints ‘must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'” Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants).

         I. Allegations

         On February 20, 2016, Plaintiff injured his left leg while playing basketball at New Haven Correctional Center. He was taken to the medical unit in a wheelchair.

         Plaintiff told Nurse Doe 1 that he heard and felt something pop inside his left leg and experienced severe pain. Defendant Doe 1 asked Plaintiff if he could move his ankle. In response, Plaintiff stated that the injury was in his leg. Defendant Doe 1 told Plaintiff that he was not a doctor and should not tell her how to diagnose him. Plaintiff asked to be taken to the hospital. Defendant Doe 1 gave Plaintiff ibuprofen and ordered him to return to his housing unit. To do so, Plaintiff had to walk up six flights of stairs.

         The following day, Plaintiff was given one crutch but was told that he could not use the crutch outside his cell. Plaintiff submitted numerous complaints to the medical unit complaining of pain and his injury.

         Plaintiff was called to the medical unit on March 3, 2016, where he was seen by Head Nurse Doe 2. She did not order x-rays or an MRI. Defendant Doe 2 diagnosed Plaintiff with a partially torn Achilles tendon and told him that she would order a special boot so his leg would heal properly.

         On March 14, 2016, Plaintiff was transferred to the Walker building at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution. He informed the medical unit of his injury and stated that he expected to receive the special boot ordered by defendant Doe 2. On April 17, 2016, Plaintiff was called to the medical unit and given a special boot to wear for six weeks. He was told that defendant Doe 2 never ordered a boot for him.

         On May 9, 2016, Plaintiff was transferred to the MacDougall building. He informed the medical unit of his injuries and told them that the six week period for wearing the boot would end on May 19, 2016. A nurse recommended that he see a specialist before having the boot removed. In June 2016, Plaintiff saw defendant McCrystal. Plaintiff told him that he continued to experience severe pain. Defendant McCrystal prescribed ibuprofen and told Plaintiff that he would schedule an x-ray.

         On June 13, 2016, x-rays were taken of Plaintiff's left ankle. The x-rays revealed a chronic injury to the Achilles tendon as well as insertional tendonitis of the Achilles tendon. The doctor interpreting the x-ray suggested that an MRI could be performed to specifically evaluate the tendon. Upon learning the results of the x-ray, Plaintiff again requested an MRI.

         Defendant McCrystal submitted a request for an MRI to the Review Committee. In the request, defendant McCrystal falsely stated that Plaintiff had pending litigation against the University of Connecticut and Department of Correction. The Review Committee denied the request for MRI.

         II. Analysis

         Plaintiff alleges that the defendants Doe 1, Doe 2, and McCrystal were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need in the following ways. Defendant Doe 1 failed to provide proper care, failed to ensure that Plaintiff was seen by a doctor, denied emergency medical care, and forced Plaintiff to walk up six flights of stairs. Defendant Doe 2 failed to have Plaintiff seen by a doctor and did not order the special boot. Defendant McCrystal ordered x-rays of Plaintiff's left ankle rather than his left leg, and improperly stated in the MRI request that Plaintiff had a ...

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