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Reese v. Lightner

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 20, 2019

REGINALD REESE, Plaintiff,
v.
RACHEAL LIGHTNER, ET AL., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          Kari A. Dooley United States District Judge

         Preliminary Statement

         The plaintiff, Reginald Reese (“Reese”), is incarcerated at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution (“MacDougall-Walker”). He initiated this action by filing a civil rights complaint against Drs. Omprakash Pillai, Edgar Cory and Augustus Mazzocca, Physician Assistant (“PA”) Kevin McCrystal and Health Services Administrator (“HSA”) Rikel Lightner.[1]He claims that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his knee injuries and pain from those injuries during his confinement at MacDougall-Walker. For the reasons set forth below, the complaint is dismissed in part.

         Standard of Review

          Pursuant to 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).

         Allegations

          On July 27, 2012, while at MacDougall-Walker, Reese injured his left knee playing basketball. See Compl. at 8 ¶ 1. Medical Staff members provided Reese with ice and medication for his pain symptoms. See Id. In the months following the injury, Reese submitted multiple requests to the medical department to be seen and to be referred for an MRI because his knee was swollen and painful. See Id. On October 27, 2012, Reese sent a request to HSA Lightner indicating that medical staff at MacDougall-Walker had not been responsive to his medical needs. See id.

         On November 26, 2012, Reese underwent an MRI of his left knee. See Id. ¶ 2 & at 27, 29. On October 30, 2012, Reese sent a request to Dr. Pillai complaining about his knee and ankle. See Id. Dr. Pillai did not respond to this request. See Id. On December 6, 2012, Reese sent a request to Dr. Naqvi seeking to meet with him to discuss the results of the MRI and the type of surgery he would undergo. See Id. Reese did not meet with Dr. Naqvi before he underwent surgery on January 3, 2013 to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. See Id. at 9 ¶ 2 & at 29.

         On January 15, 2013, Reese wrote to Dr. Pillai on January 15, 2013 to inform that he had experienced swelling and pain in his knee when he tried to walk on it. See Id. On March 20, 2013, Reese submitted a request to the medical department seeking pain medication because his pain returned when he attempted to “rehab” his knee. See Id. Some months after the surgery, Reese discovered that State of Connecticut Administrative Directive 8.1 required that medical staff members provide inmates with physical therapy, which he did not receive. See id.

         Two and a half years later, on June 8, 2015, Reese re-injured his left knee. See Id. ¶ 3. Medical Staff members provided Reese with crutches and a small box of Motrin. See Id. Dr. Pillai saw Reese a month and a half after he re-injured the knee. See Id. During the appointment, Reese asked for a referral for an MRI to determine the nature of the injury to his knee. See Id. On April 14, 2016, Reese wrote to PA McCrystal because he was experiencing severe pain in his knee and asked why the request for an MRI was denied. See Id. ¶ 4.

         On January 6, 2017, Reese underwent surgery on his left knee to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. See Id. at 11 ¶ 8 & at 38. After the surgery, Reese experienced pain in his left knee and spasms in his left leg. See Id. at 10 ¶ 5. During the period from January 23, 2017 to March 14, 2018, Reese submitted multiple requests to HSA Lightner, Dr. Pillai and PA McCrystal to be treated for post-surgery symptoms. See Id. at 10-13 ¶¶ 4-16. He sought physical therapy, a knee brace and pain medication. See id.

         On March 16, 2018, Reese underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. See Id. at 13 ¶ 18. On March 19, 2018, Reese sent Dr. Pillai a request informing him that neither the medical providers at the University of Connecticut Health Center (“UCONN”) or the medical staff at MacDougall-Walker had provided him with physical therapy. See Id. ¶ 17. On March 29, 2018, Reese sent a request to Dr. Pillai because he had a big lump on his left knee and it felt warm. See Id. ¶ 19. Dr. Pillai did not respond to the request or examine Reese. See Id. In April 2018, Reese wrote to HSA Lightner, Dr. Pillai and PA McCrystal complaining that his knee was painful and that no one had provided him with physical therapy or pain management. See Id. at 13-14 ¶¶ 20-22. On May 3, 2018, Reese underwent physical therapy for his left knee at UCONN. See Id. at 14 ¶ 24.

         In early June 2018, Reese wrote to PA McCrystal seeking a bottom bunk pass because he was unable to climb to the top bunk due to the injury to his left knee. See Id. at 14-15 ¶ 27. On September 21, 2018, Reese wrote to Dr. Pillai and to Dr. Naqvi because he was not sure which physician was his treating physician. See Id. ¶ 32. Reese explained that his left knee was still painful and the medication prescribed to him did not alleviate the pain. See Id. at 15-16 ΒΆ 32. In ...


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