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Ramos v. McCrystal

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 25, 2019

JOSE RAMOS, Plaintiff,



         Preliminary Statement

         The plaintiff, Jose Ramos (“Ramos”), brings this civil rights action against Kevin McCrystal (“P.A. McCrystal”), a Physician Assistant[1] with the Connecticut Department of Correction, alleging deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution.[2] Specifically, by Amended Complaint dated August 29, 2017, Ramos asserts that on June 27, 2017 he advised P.A. McCrystal that he was suffering from extreme shoulder pain but that P.A. McCrystal provided no treatment and in fact discontinued his prescription pain medications. Both Ramos and P.A. McCrystal have moved for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, P.A. McCrystal's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED and Ramos' motion for summary judgment is therefore not reached.

         Standard of Review

         When seeking summary judgment, the moving party bears the burden of demonstrating “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and [that it] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is “material” if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, ” and is “genuine” if “a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party” based on it. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         If a motion for summary judgment is supported by documentary evidence and sworn affidavits and “demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, ” the nonmoving party “must come forward with specific evidence demonstrating the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact.” Robinson v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 781 F.3d 42, 44 (2d Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). And the non-moving party must do more than vaguely assert the existence of some unspecified disputed material facts or “rely on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation.” Id. The court must “construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and to draw all reasonable inferences in its favor.” Gary Friedrich Enters., L.L.C. v. Marvel Characters, Inc., 716 F.3d 302, 312 (2d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). The court may not, however, “make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence. . . . [because] [c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge.” Proctor v. LeClaire, 846 F.3d 597, 607-08 (2d Cir. 2017) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). If there is any evidence in the record from which a reasonable factual inference could be drawn in favor of the opposing party on the issue on which summary judgment is sought, however, summary judgment is improper. See Security Ins. Co. of Hartford v. Old Dominion Freight Line Inc., 391 F.3d 77, 83 (2d Cir. 2004).

         On cross-motions for summary judgment the same standard applies. See Morales v. Quintel Entm't, Inc., 249 F.3d 115, 121 (2d Cir. 2001). “Where ‘parties file [ ] cross-motions for summary judgment [, ] ... each party's motion must be examined on its own merits, and in each case all reasonable inferences must be drawn against the party whose motion is under consideration.” Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v. Great Am. Ins. Co. of New York, 822 F.3d 620, 631 n. 12 (2d Cir. 2016) (citing Morales, 249 F.3d at 121).

         Finally, the court recognizes its obligation to read a pro se party's papers liberally and and to interpret them “to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.” Willey v. Kirkpatrick, 801 F.3d 51, 62 (2d Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Despite this liberal interpretation, however, allegations unsupported by admissible evidence “do not create a material issue of fact” and cannot overcome a properly supported motion for summary judgment. Weinstock v. Columbia Univ., 224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000).

         Facts [3]

         P.A. McCrystal was assigned to the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution (“MacDougall-Walker”) as a physician assistant from 2004 to 2018. P.A. McCrystal Decl. ¶ 4. He worked in the Walker building for approximately six years and worked in the MacDougall building for approximately eight years. Id. ¶¶ 4-5. As a physician assistant, he managed the Chronic Disease Clinic (“CDC”), handled inmate sick calls, prescribed medications for inmates and provided assistance to physicians when necessary. Id. ¶ 7.

         Ramos is a sentenced prisoner in the custody of the Department of Correction (“DOC”). Ramos asserts and his medical records confirm that in October 2012, shortly after his admission to DOC custody, he began complaining to medical providers at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution about pain and limited mobility in his shoulders. Thereafter, between October 2012 and August 2016, medical providers at various DOC facilities prescribed Motrin to treat his shoulder pain. Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)1, Exs. 2-4, 6-17. On June 17, 2016, Ramos was transferred to the MacDougall building of MacDougall-Walker. Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2, Ex. B at 53.

         On May 4, 2017, Ramos submitted an Inmate Request Form[4] to Supervisor Rikel Lightner indicating that he had written multiple times to medical supervisors asking to be seen by a physician and seeking a prescription for medication to treat his shoulder pain. Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 ¶ 1; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2, Ex. B at 32. On May 11, 2017, P.A. McCrystal reviewed Ramos' medical chart, noted that the last x-ray of Ramos's shoulders revealed minimal degenerative joint disease, and prescribed 600 milligrams of Motrin to be taken twice a day for three months to alleviate Ramos's complaints of shoulder pain. Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 ¶ 2; Ex. B at 8.

         On June 27, 2017, P.A. McCrystal met with Ramos in the CDC to assess Ramos' chronic asthma condition. Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1, ¶ 4. Ramos had not requested to be seen for his asthma condition. Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 ¶ 5. During the June 27 appointment, Ramos complained of shoulder pain. Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 ¶ 5; Ex. B at 8. P.A. McCrystal advised Ramos of the protocols for submitting a request to be seen for a more thorough evaluation of his complaint of shoulder pain. Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 ¶ 7. Although he alleges to the contrary in the Amended Complaint, [5] Ramos now concedes that he continued to receive Motrin for his shoulder pain until August 8, 2017 pursuant to the order issued by P.A. McCrystal on May 11, 2017. Id. ¶ 10.

         Ramos received an inmate handbook when he arrived at MacDougall-Walker in 2016. Id. ¶ 18. Ramos is familiar with the Department of Correction's administrative remedies process. Id. ΒΆ 17. Ramos did not file a request for health services review regarding his ...

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