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Walker v. Doe

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

September 17, 2018

JANE DOE, et al., Defendants.


          Janet C. Hall United States District Judge

         The plaintiff, Eugene Lionel Walker (“Walker”), currently incarcerated at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Uncasville, Connecticut, seeks leave to file a Second Amended Complaint in response to the court's May 21, 2018 Order. For the reasons that follow, Walker's Motion to Amend (Doc. No. 50) is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Walker named six defendants in his Amended Complaint, Dr. Carson Wright and Nurses Barbara Savoie, Shannon Lawrence, Wanda Verville, Darnella Burke and Debra Wilson. Walker asserted federal claims for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs and violation of his right to equal protection of the law. See Amended Complaint (“Am. Compl.”)(Doc. No. 29) at 10-12. He also re-asserted state law claims for negligence and medical malpractice which were dismissed in the Initial Review Order. See id. at 11; Initial Review Order (Doc. No. 9) at 10-11.

         The defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss and/or Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. No. 39) directed to the deliberate indifference claims. The court granted that Motion as to the claims against Nurses Savoie, Lawrence, Burke, and Wilson and denied the motion as to the claims against Dr. Wright and Nurse Verville. See Ruling (Doc. No. 46) at 21. On May 21, 2018, the court issued an Order directing Walker to file an amended complaint if he intended to pursue his equal protection claim. Walker was directed to identify the defendants involved in the claim and to allege facts satisfying the pleading requirements for an equal protection claim. See Order (Doc. No. 47).

         II. ANALYSIS

         Walker's Proposed Second Amended Complaint is a copy of the Amended Complaint with three changes. First, Walker has revised the paragraph relating to his equal protection claim. Second, Walker states that he is suing all defendants in their official capacities as well as their individual capacities and that the omission of official capacity from the Complaint and Amended Complaint was inadvertent. Third, Walker has appended the results of a 2014 CT scan to address the deficiency identified in the Initial Review Order regarding his state law malpractice claim. The defendants object to the re-assertion of previously dismissed claims.

         A. Equal Protection Claim

         Walker includes the following paragraph to clarify his equal protection claim.

Plaintiff's equal protection rights were violated by doctor Carson Wright and Nurse Verville. Due to the fact that all sentenced inmates are housed at facilities that as per state statute C.G.S. 18 have a doctor working every business day. Dr. Carson Wright was notified about plaintiff's deteriorating condition on four separate occasions and still did not examine plaintiff to identify the problem despite the fact that, the severe symptoms were clearly presenting themselves. Additionally, Nurse Verville acted outside of her authority [and] provence by interjecting her own personal assessment of plaintiff's condition, assuming it was just the eye, and only prescribed putting warm water and soap on it. Under similar situated circumstances a doctor would have taken the information he or she received and do a proper examination to identify the root problem. Furthermore, a nurse under similar situated circumstances would have called a doctor or immediately put plaintiff on the emergency call list. Plaintiff being a pretrial detainee at the time was only being held because plaintiff could not make bond was [ ] entitled to equal protection of the law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

         Proposed Second Amended Complaint (“Proposed Second Am. Compl.”)(Doc. No. 50-1) at 15.

         Walker has complied with part of the court's Order by stating that his equal protection claim is asserted against Dr. Wright and Nurse Verville, the only remaining defendants. However, he fails to allege facts to state a plausible equal protection claim.

         The Equal Protection Clause protects prisoners from invidious discrimination. This provision does not mandate identical treatment for each individual; rather it requires that similarly situated persons be treated the same. City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 U.S. 432, 439-40 (1985). To state an equal protection claim, Walker must allege facts showing that he was “treated differently than others similarly situated as a result of intentional or purposeful discrimination.” Phillips v. Girdich, 408 F.3d 124, 129 (2d Cir. 2005). Walker can demonstrate an equal protection violation by “point[ing] to a law or policy that expressly classifies persons on the basis of race, ” “identify[ing] a facially neutral law or policy that has been applied in an intentionally discriminatory manner, ” or “alleg[ing] that a facially neutral statute or policy has an adverse effect and it was motivated by discriminatory animus.” Anderson v. Waterbury Police Dep't, 2017 WL 1157843, at *9 (D. Conn. Mar. 28, 2017) (quoting Brown v. City of Oneonta, N.Y., 221 F.3d 329, 337 (2d Cir. 2000)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         Walker alleges that sentenced inmates, unlike pretrial detainees, are held in correctional facilities with a full-time doctor. Although he argues that this arrangement is pursuant to state statute, he has provided an incomplete citation. The court has searched the Connecticut General Statutes and not found any statute referring to the allocation of doctors to correctional facilities. Walker has identified no law or policy that was applied to him in a discriminatory manner. Nor does he allege that he is a member of a protected class or that he was treated differently because of a suspect classification. See Robles v. Dennison, 745 F.Supp.2d 244, 301 n.18 (W.D.N.Y. 2010) (merely being a prisoner is insufficient to put plaintiff in a suspect class), aff'd, 449 Fed.Appx. 51 (2d Cir. 2011); Lehal v. United States, No. 13CV3923 (DF), 2015 WL ...

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