United States District Court, D. Connecticut
CHRISTOPHER H. CROWDER, Plaintiff,
DR. FARINELLA, et al., Defendants.
RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS
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. He asserts claims for deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs and denial of equal
protection of the laws. The remaining defendants, Dr.
Farinella, Dr. Freston, Dr. Naqvi, Dr. Ruiz and Recreation
Supervisor Rudi Alvarez (together, “Defendants”),
have moved to dismiss.
reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is
GRANTED with respect to the
“class-of-one” equal protection claim, but
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Mr. Crowder's Medical Condition
April 2013, Mr. Crowder, who suffers from multiple sclerosis
(“MS”), allegedly submitted a medical request
because he had difficulty breathing. Am. Compl. ¶ 18,
ECF No. 23. A nurse allegedly checked his lungs in the
housing unit and, although his lungs sounded clear, the nurse
allegedly stated that she would put him on the list to see a
doctor. Id. Mr. Crowder allegedly was not called to
see a doctor at that point. Id. ¶ 19. In May
2013, he submitted two requests allegedly complaining of
tightness in his chest. Id. Mr. Crowder was called
to the medical unit and examined by a male nurse.
Id. The nurse allegedly listened to his chest and
stated that his lungs sounded clear. Id. ¶ 19.
September 2014, Mr. Crowder saw Dr. O'Halloran.
Id. ¶ 20. 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. Id. Dr. O'Halloran allegedly ran
tests, submitted paperwork for lab work and gave Mr. Crowder
an inhaler to try for a month. Id. Mr. Crowder
allegedly returned to see Dr. O'Halloran in November 2014
and reported that the inhaler was ineffective and that his
“chest would begin to hurt when it tightened up or
squeezed.” Id. ¶ 21.
November visit, Dr. O'Halloran allegedly submitted a
request to the Utilization Review Committee
(“URC”) for examination by a pulmonologist.
Id. ¶¶ 22-23. The request was denied.
Id. On April 8, 2015, Mr. Crowder allegedly had an
x-ray of his lungs. Id. ¶ 28. He allegedly was
never told the results. Id. On June 1, 2015, Mr.
Crowder had an EKG, and he was allegedly “told that his
heart seemed fine.” Id. ¶ 29. In July
2015, a nurse allegedly told Mr. Crowder that his second URC
request was in his medical file and had been marked
“received.” Id. ¶ 30.
17, 2016, Mr. Crowder allegedly met with Dr. Pillai, who had
replaced Dr. O'Halloran. Id. ¶ 33. On
August 19, 2016, Dr. Pillai told Mr. Crowder that the URC
denied the request. Id. ¶ 34. In December 2016,
Mr. Crowder filed a medical habeas action in state court.
Id. ¶ 38.
April 7, 2017, Dr. Pillai examined Mr. Crowder, allegedly in
response to the medical habeas. Id. ¶ 41. Dr.
Pillai allegedly pretended to be unaware of Mr. Crowder's
issues. Id. Dr. Pillai allegedly checked his vital
signs, listened to his breathing, and scheduled lab work,
which was done on April 10, 2017. Id. ¶¶
April 25, 2017, Dr. Pillai allegedly told Mr. Crowder that he
would submit another URC request. Id. ¶ 46. Mr.
Crowder allegedly then underwent another EKG and chest x-ray.
Id. ¶¶ 47, 49. 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.
Mr. Crowder's Prison Job
Crowder had a job working in the gym, supervised by Mr.
Alvarez. Id. ¶¶ 54-55. In April and May
2015, Mr. Alvarez allegedly asked correctional staff and
inmate workers why Mr. Crowder went to the medical unit every
week. Id. ¶¶ 55-56. On May 20, 2015, Mr.
Alvarez allegedly followed Mr. Crowder to the medical unit,
asked about his medication, and asked whether he would be
willing to change the time he took the medication to avoid
leaving his work assignment. Id. ¶¶ 57-58.
Mr. Crowder allegedly responded that the type of medication
was none of Mr. Alvarez's business and that he was not
willing to change the medication schedule that had been in
place since 2005. Id. That afternoon, Mr. Crowder
wrote to Warden Chapdelaine, Deputy Warden Guadaramma and
Deputy Warden Mudano to inform them that Mr. Alvarez was
trying to interfere with Mr. Crowder's medical
appointments. Id. ¶ 59.
Mr. Crowder reported for work the following day, May 21,
2015, he was met by Mr. Alvarez and Nurse McCrystal.
Id. ¶ 60. Mr. Alvarez allegedly had led Nurse
McCrystal to believe that Mr. Crowder wanted to change the
time of his medication. Id. Mr. Crowder stated that
he did not want any change. Id. Since then, Mr.
Alvarez allegedly has acted contemptuously toward Mr.
Crowder, including allegedly by telling Mr. Crowder that
Deputy Warden Guadaramma was his best friend. Id.
¶ 61. In response to Mr. Crowder's letter, Deputy
Warden Mudano allegedly spoke with Mr. Alvarez who stated
that he had tried to make accommodations for Mr. Crowder with
the medical department but Mr. Crowder was uncooperative.
Id. ¶ 62.
Alvarez allegedly then prevented Mr. Crowder from leaving his
job to take his MS medication until an hour past his
scheduled time. Id. ¶ 63. By the time he
arrived, the pharmacy nurse would usually be “out in
the building passing out medication to other units so [Mr.
Crowder] sometimes had to wait a day” to get his
medication. Id. When Mr. Crowder asked to leave to
take his medication, Mr. Alvarez allegedly told him that he
could not come and go as he pleased. Id. ¶ 64.
Crowder also allegedly noticed that, while he faced these
restrictions, other gym workers were allowed to go to the
library instead of to work, or to go to a meditation program
instead of to work. Id. ¶¶ 65-67. On June
2, 2015, Mr. Crowder allegedly asked Mr. Alvarez about this
disparity, and Mr. Alvarez told Mr. Crowder that if he did
not like the rules he could “reclass.”
Id. ¶ 67.
3, 2015, Mr. Crowder allegedly was working in the office
distributing and collecting equipment. Id. ¶
68. After the last piece of equipment had been returned at
the end of the recreation period, Mr. Crowder allegedly told
Mr. Alvarez that he was going to the medical unit and would
see him later. Id. Mr. Crowder allegedly was told by
other inmates and correctional officers that Mr. Alvarez
“went ballistic” and accused Mr. Crowder of
disrespecting his authority and walking out without telling
him. Id. ¶ 69.
Crowder allegedly was not permitted in the gym from June 3,
2015, until the morning of June 9, 2015, including for his
regular recreation period. Id. ¶ 70. On June 9,
2015, Mr. Crowder was allegedly called to the gym and asked
to sign a bad work report which would terminate his job,
which he refused to sign. Id. ¶ 71.
9, 2015, Mr. Crowder was allegedly transferred to a housing
unit with inmates newly admitted to the facility or just
coming off segregation. Id. ¶ 73. While there,
Mr. Crowder was unable to go to the gym or participate in any
recreational programs; the immobility allegedly affected his
MS, which required that he exercise regularly. Id.
Mr. Crowder remained in this housing unit for over three
months. Id. ¶ 74. During that time, Mr. ...