United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RAFAEL A. CRESPO, JR., Plaintiff,
RICARDO RUIZ et al., Defendants .
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §
Alker Meyer United States District Judge
Rafael A. Crespo, Jr. is a prisoner in the custody of the
Connecticut Department of Correction at Willard-Cybulski
Correctional Institution in Enfield, Connecticut. On December
14, 2018, he filed a complaint pro se and in
forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Doctors Ricardo Ruiz and Rafael Pacheco, Warden Scott Erfe,
Lieutenant Hernandez, and Officer Flores in their individual
and official capacities for damages. Doc. #1 at 2. For the
following reasons, I will dismiss his complaint without
following facts are alleged in the complaint and are accepted
as true only for purposes of this initial ruling. On June 27,
2016, Crespo was playing soccer in the outside recreation
yard at Cheshire Correctional Institution
(“Cheshire”) when he slipped on the ground and
bent his ankle in the wrong direction. Id. at 7
(¶ 4). Crespo heard “a loud crack” in his
ankle. Ibid. Another inmate assisted Crespo by
lifting him up and bringing him to the bench on the side of
the field. Ibid. (¶ 5). There, a correctional
officer asked Crespo if he needed to go to a hospital, and
Crespo responded that he needed to be transported to the
medical unit. Ibid. (¶ 6). Several medical
personnel then responded to the yard and transported Crespo
in a wheelchair to the medical unit. Ibid. (¶
medical unit, Crespo was evaluated by a nurse. Ibid.
(¶ 8). A decision was made to transport him to the UConn
Health Center for further evaluation. Ibid. In
preparing for transport, an unnamed correctional officer
forced Crespo to go to the Admitting and Processing
(“A&P”) area using crutches, despite
Crespo's complaints that he was experiencing severe pain.
Ibid. (¶ 9). The A&P area is approximately
100 yards from the medical unit. Ibid.
arrived at the UConn Health Center, Crespo was evaluated by
an unnamed doctor, who apparently recommended a surgical
procedure to repair the ankle. See ibid. (¶
10). The surgery was later delayed because Dr. Ruiz needed to
obtain approval from the Utilization Review Committee
(“URC”). Id. at 8-9 (¶¶ 10,
was ultimately scheduled for surgery at the UConn Health
Center on July 12, 2016. Id. at 8 (¶ 11). He
agreed to the surgery because he thought it was the only way
to correct his ankle injury, but the surgeon never explained
the other options available to treat his ankle. Id.
at 9 (¶¶ 13-14). After undergoing surgery, he
returned to Cheshire and was immediately forced to walk a
very long distance using crutches. Id. at 8 (¶
Crespo returned to his housing unit at Cheshire, Officer
Flores and Lieutenant Hernandez began
“torment[ing]” him. Id. at 9 (¶
15). They forced him to ambulate on crutches three times per
day to obtain his medication, which was distributed over 100
yards away from his housing unit, despite his complaint that
he had severe post-surgical pain. Ibid.
(¶¶ 15-16). The officials threatened to issue him a
disciplinary report if he did not report to the medical unit.
Ibid. (¶ 16).
Crespo's surgeon had prescribed him pain medication
following the surgery, Dr. Ruiz “failed to provide him
with proper medical treatment and medication for his
pain.” Id. at 9 (¶ 17). Crespo filed an
administrative remedy request regarding the lack of
post-surgical treatment, but Cheshire staff never responded.
Id. at 10 (¶ 20). Crespo followed up with a
medical grievance and is still awaiting a response.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a
prisoner's civil complaint against a governmental entity
or governmental actors and “identify cognizable claims
or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if
the complaint-(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” If the prisoner is proceeding pro se,
the allegations of the complaint must be read liberally to
raise the strongest arguments that they suggest. See
Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010).
recent years, the Supreme Court has set forth a threshold
“plausibility” pleading standard for courts to
evaluate the adequacy of allegations in federal court
complaints. A complaint must allege enough facts-as distinct
from legal conclusions-that give rise to plausible grounds
for relief. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Notwithstanding the
rule of liberal interpretation of a pro se
complaint, a pro se complaint may not survive
dismissal if its factual allegations do not meet the basic
plausibility standard. See, e.g., Fowlkes v.
Ironworkers Local 40, 790 F.3d 378, 387 (2d Cir. 2015).
appears from the factual allegations that Crespo is
attempting to state a claim that defendants violated his
Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual
punishment by acting with deliberate indifference to his
serious medical needs. Doc. #1 at 10-11 (¶¶ 21-23).
As an initial matter, I will dismiss the claims against all
defendants in their official capacities, because Crespo is
only suing defendants for damages, see Id. at 12,
and the Eleventh Amendment bars claims for damages against
state employees in their official capacities. See,
e.g., Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 169
(1985). Therefore, I will limit my review to Crespo's
Eighth Amendment claims as brought against defendants in
their individual capacities.
Eighth Amendment prohibits prison officials from being
deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of
prisoners in their custody. See Estelle v. Gamble,
429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). A prisoner who claims deliberate
indifference to a serious medical need must satisfy two
requirements. First, there is an objective requirement-that
the prisoner's medical need was sufficiently serious
(i.e., that the prisoner suffered from an urgent
medical condition involving a risk of death, degeneration, or
extreme pain). See Spavone v. N.Y. State Dep't of
Corr. Servs., 719 F.3d 127, 138 (2d Cir. 2013); Hill
v. Curcione, 657 F.3d 116, 122 (2d Cir. 2011). Second,
there is a subjective requirement: that the defendant have
acted recklessly (i.e., with an actual awareness of
a substantial risk that serious harm to the prisoner would
result from the defendant's action or non-action).
See Spavone, 719 F.3d at 138. It is not enough to
allege simple negligence or negligent medical malpractice;
instead, a prisoner must show that the defendant acted with
the equivalent of a criminally reckless state of mind with
respect to the prisoner's medical needs. See Hilton
v. Wright6 ...