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Vines v. McCrystal

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 5, 2019




         The plaintiff, Curtis Johnell Vines, is currently confined at Cheshire Correctional Institution. He initiated this action by filing a civil rights complaint against Physician Assistant (“PA”) Kevin McCrystal, Correctional Officer Olivio, and Correctional Officer Barrows.

         On November 19, 2018, pursuant to its review of the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the court dismissed the claims for damages against the defendants for violations of federal law in their official capacities, the negligence claim against the defendants in their individual and official capacities for monetary damages, the request for a declaration that the defendants violated federal law, and the request for a declaration that the defendants' alleged negligent conduct violated the plaintiff's rights under Connecticut law, and dismissed without prejudice the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment claims against PA McCrystal in his individual capacity. See Initial Review Order (“IRO”), [ECF No. 14], at 12-13. The court concluded that the Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs claim would proceed against Correctional Officer Olivio and Correctional Officer Barrows in their individual capacities. See Id. at 13.

         The court permitted the plaintiff to file an amended complaint, within thirty days, to address the deficiencies in the allegations against PA McCrystal as outlined in the court's ruling. See Id. In response to the court's ruling and order, the plaintiff has filed two letters with attached exhibits. The Clerk has docketed the letters as Notices. See First Notice, ECF No. 15; Second Notice, ECF No. 16. The Notices are unsigned and do not include a case caption with the name of the court and the parties to the case, a request for relief, or any allegations against the other two defendants, Officers Olivio and Barrows. See Id. Thus, neither Notice constitutes a properly filed amended complaint. Even if the court were to construe the Notices as amended complaints, the allegations in the Notices do not state plausible claims that PA McCrystal violated the plaintiff's Constitutional rights.

         I. Standard of Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the court must review prisoner civil complaints against governmental actors and “dismiss ... any portion of [a] complaint [that] is frivolous, malicious, or 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.” Id. Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         Although detailed allegations are not required, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when a plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A complaint that includes only “‘labels and conclusions,' ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action' or ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement, '” does not meet the facial plausibility standard. Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557 (2007)). Although courts still have an obligation to interpret “a pro se complaint liberally, ” the complaint must include sufficient factual allegations to meet the standard of facial plausibility. See Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).

         II. Facts

         The complaint included the following facts: On April 4, 2017, at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution (“MacDougall-Walker”), the plaintiff injured his left knee playing basketball. Compl. at 6 -7 ¶¶ 1, 6 & at 28. The plaintiff could not move his left leg or foot or “stand without falling down.” See Id. at 6 ¶ 1. An officer called a “medical code” and medical staff members transferred the plaintiff to the medical unit. See Id. PA McCrystal examined the plaintiff's knee, prescribed ibuprofen for the pain, and directed a nurse to wrap the plaintiff's knee and provide him with crutches. See Id. ¶ 2. A Medical Incident Report and Nursing Sick Call note indicate that PA McCrystal also referred the plaintiff for an x-ray of his left knee. See Id. at 28, 35-36. The plaintiff informed PA McCrystal and the nurse that he believed that the injury to his knee could not be “fix[ed]” with ibuprofen, but they would not listen to his opinion and sent him back to his housing unit. See id.

         That evening, at the dinner meal, the plaintiff asked Correctional Officers Olivio and Barrows to contact the medical department because the pain in his injured knee was severe. See Id. ¶¶ 3-4. Neither Officer Olivio nor Officer Barrows would contact or arrange for him to be sent to the medical department. Id. The plaintiff was unable to sleep during the night of April 4, 2017, and early morning hours of April 5, 2017, because his knee was so painful. See Id. ¶ 3. During the morning of April 5, 2017, after convincing correctional staff that he was experiencing the worst pain that he had ever experienced in his life, the plaintiff underwent an x-ray of his left knee. See Id. at 7 ¶ 5. During a visit the medical unit later that morning, a nurse explained to the plaintiff that he had “broke[n]” his knee “in half.” See Id. At approximately 9:45 a.m., correctional officers transferred the plaintiff to the University of Connecticut Medical Center (“UCONN”) for surgery. See Id. ¶ 6 & at 22, 24. A surgeon “put two screws in [the plaintiff's] left knee.” See Id. ¶ 6. Three days after the procedure, hospital officials transferred the plaintiff back to MacDougall-Walker. See id.

         On May 16, 2017, the plaintiff filed a “medical grievance” regarding PA McCrystal's treatment of his knee injury. See Id. ¶ 9 & at 12. On June 25, 2017, PA McCrystal denied the grievance. See id.

         There are no new facts in the First Notice. See Notice, ECF No. 15. In the Second Notice, the plaintiff alleges that on May 1, 2017, he had an appointment with PA McCrystal. During the appointment, PA McCrystal observed no evidence of an infection in his left knee. See Notice, ECF No. 16, at 1. Six days later, on May 7, 2017, Dr. Naqvi prescribed “Cipro because [the plaintiff's] knee was infected.” Id.

         III. Discussion

         The First Notice may be liberally construed as including an Eighth Amendment and a Fourteenth Amendment claim against PA McCrystal. The Second Notice may be liberally construed as including a First ...

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