United States District Court, D. Connecticut
CHRISTOPHER H. CROWDER, Plaintiff,
DR. FARINELLA, et al., Defendants.
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
H. Crowder (“Plaintiff”), currently incarcerated
at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield,
Connecticut, filed this Complaint pro se under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. The Court received Mr. Crowder's
Complaint on July 10, 2017 and granted his motion to proceed
in forma pauperis on July 18, 2017. The Complaint
sets forth various allegations against Dr. Farinella, Dr.
Freston, Dr. Naqvi, Dr. Ruiz, Health Services Administrator
Raquel Lightner, FOI Liaison Correctional Counselor Moore,
Nurse Supervisor Heidi Greene, and Recreation Supervisor Rudi
Alvarez (together “Defendants”). Mr. Crowder
alleges that all Defendants have been deliberately
indifferent to his medical needs.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code, 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(b). When 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 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).
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 “pro 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).
Provision of Medical Care
Complaint states that Mr. Crowder suffers from multiple
sclerosis (“MS”). In April 2013, Mr. Crowder
allegedly submitted a medical request because he was
experiencing difficulty breathing. A nurse allegedly checked
his lungs in the housing unit. He claims that, although his
lungs sounded clear, the nurse stated that she would put him
on the list to see a doctor. Compl., ECF No. 1 at 12, ¶
18. However, Mr. Crowder was allegedly not called to see a
2013, he claims that he submitted two additional medical
requests complaining of tightness in his chest. Mr. Crowder
was allegedly called to the medical unit and examined by a
male nurse. The nurse allegedly listened to his chest and
stated that his lungs sounded clear. Id. at ¶
September 2014, Mr. Crowder states that he saw Dr.
O'Halloran. After listening to Mr. Crowder's chest,
Dr. O'Halloran allegedly stated that he could not
understand why it took the nursing staff so long to schedule
a doctor exam. Dr. O'Halloran allegedly ran tests,
submitted paperwork for lab work and gave Mr. Crowder an
inhaler to try for a month. Id. at 12-13, ¶ 20.
Mr. Crowder claims that he returned to see Dr. O'Halloran
in November 2014 and reported that the inhaler was
ineffective. According to Mr. Crowder, his chest would hurt
when it tightened up or when he sneezed. Id. at 13,
November visit, Dr. O'Halloran allegedly submitted a
request to the Utilization Review Committee
(“URC”) for examination by a pulmonologist. The
request was allegedly denied. Id. at ¶¶
22-23. In December 2014, Mr. Crowder claims that he wrote to
Defendant Lightner and to Ms. Castro, the Director of Medical
Quality and Resource Management, complaining about the issues
with his breathing and the URC denial. Id. at
¶¶ 24-25. In February 2015, Defendant Lightner
allegedly responded to Mr. Crowder's letter and stated
that there were no entries in his medical records showing
that he had been seen by any medical staff. Id. at
April 8, 2015, Mr. Crowder states that he had an x-ray of his
lungs. He was allegedly never told the results. Id.
at ¶ 28. Mr. Crowder claims that, on April 25, 2015,
Defendant Lightner again told him that his file contained no
references to breathing issues or URC requests. Id.
at 14, ¶ 31. The following day, Mr. Crowder claims that
he wrote to Ms. Castro again questioning why he had received
blood tests, x-rays and inhalers if he had no breathing
issues. Id. at ¶32.
17, 2016, Mr. Crowder allegedly met with Dr. Pillai, who was
taking over for Dr. O'Halloran. After Mr. Crowder
explained his breathing issues, Dr. Pillai allegedly stated
that the breathing issues might be caused by age.
Id. at ¶ 33. On June 1, 2015, he claims that he
underwent an EKG and was told his heart seemed fine.
Id. at ¶ 29.
2015, a nurse allegedly checked Mr. Crowder's medical
file and told him that the URC request was there and marked
received. Id. at ¶ 30. On August 19, 2016, Dr.
Pillai allegedly told Mr. Crowder that the URC denied the
request. Id. at ¶ 34. In December 2016, Mr.
Crowder filed a medical habeas action in state court.
Id. at 15, ¶ 38. On February 1, 2017, Mr.
Crowder states that he also wrote to Defendant Lightner
describing problems that he experienced obtaining his MS
medication, including allegations that Dr. Pillai refused to
provide stronger pain medication for MS pain and that the URC
prevented him from seeing a pulmonologist. Id. at
April 7, 2017, Dr. Pillai allegedly examined Mr. Crowder in
response to the medical habeas. According to Mr. Crowder, Dr.
Pillai pretended to be unaware of Mr. Crowder's issues.
Dr. Pillai allegedly checked his vital signs, listened to his
breathing and said that he would schedule lab work.
Id. at ¶ 41. Mr. Crowder states that the lab
work was done on April 10, 2017. Id. at ¶ 43.
On April 25, 2017, Mr. Crowder alleges that Dr. Pillai told
him that he would submit another URC request. Id. at
16, ¶ 46. Mr. Crowder states that he then underwent
another EKG and chest x-ray. Id. at ¶¶ 47,
49. According to Mr. Crowder, Defendant Lightner denied
receiving Mr. Crowder's February 1, 2017 letter.
Id. at ¶ 48.
Crowder claims that he submitted a Freedom of Information
(“FOI”) request to Defendant Moore seeking the
names of all persons on the URC. Id. at ¶ 50.
Defendant Moore allegedly denied the request and denied
knowledge of the URC. Id. at ¶ 51. On May 10,
2017, the judge in the state habeas action informed Mr.
Crowder that he would be seen by a pulmonologist and a
cardiologist. Id., ¶ 53.
Crowder states that he had a job in the gym, and that his
supervisor was Defendant Alvarez. In April and May 2015,
Defendant Alvarez was allegedly overheard asking correctional
staff and inmate workers why Mr. Crowder went to the medical
unit every week. Id. at 17, ¶¶ 54-56. On
May 20, 2015, Defendant Alvarez allegedly followed Mr.
Crowder to the medical unit and asked him what medication he
was taking and whether he would change the time of his
medication so he would not have to leave his work assignment.
Mr. Crowder allegedly responded that the type of medication
was none of Defendant Alvarez' business and that he was
not willing to change the medication schedule that had been
in place since 2005. Id., ¶¶ 57-58. That
afternoon, Mr. Crowder ...