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Robbs v. McCrystal

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 7, 2019

ROBERT F. ROBBS, Plaintiff,
KEVIN McCRYSTAL, et al., Defendants.


          Kari A. Dooley United States District Judge

         Preliminary Statement

         Plaintiff, Robert F. Robbs (“Robbs”), currently confined at Cheshire Correctional Institution in Cheshire, Connecticut, filed this action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his Amended Complaint, Robbs asserts claims for deliberate indifference to medical needs against APRN Kevin McCrystal, Nurse Gina Burns, and Dr. Cary Freston.

         Robbs commenced this action by Complaint filed on December 28, 2018. The case was dismissed on February 11, 2009, when Robbs failed to correct deficiencies in his motion to proceed in forma pauperis. Doc. No. 14. On September 20, 2019, Robbs filed an Amended Complaint and motion to proceed in forma pauperis. Although he did not file a motion to reopen, the Court construed the Amended Complaint as including a motion to reopen the case. Robbs' motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on October 2, 2019.

         Standard of Review

         Under section 1915A of title 28 of the United States Code, the Court must review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, that 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. In reviewing a pro se complaint, the Court must assume the truth of the allegations, and interpret them liberally to “raise the strongest arguments [they] suggest[].” Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007). see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants). Although detailed allegations are not required, the complaint must include sufficient facts to afford the defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and to demonstrate a right to relief. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Conclusory allegations are not sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.


          In 2016, Robbs was incarcerated at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution commencing his sentence. He submitted written and oral requests for a shower pass but the requests were denied or ignored. He was told to use a chair in the shower. Robbs had to maneuver himself, his cane, and the chair over an 8” lip to enter the shower. On one day, when exiting the shower, the cane slipped on the floor and Robbs fell, landing on his elbow and striking his head. Doc. No. 15 at 4.

         Robbs was taken to the medical unit for x-rays and evaluation. He was cleared to return to population but was housed in the handicapped unit. Shortly thereafter, he noticed that his elbow was becoming enlarged. Id. Robbs notified the medical unit. Medical staff drained fluid from his elbow and sent the fluid to UConn for testing. Robbs continued to complain that his elbow was painful and warm to the touch and that two digits of his right hand were “sticking shut.” Id. at 5. Medical staff prescribed ibuprofen and Elavil which did not relieve the symptoms. Id.

         While dealing with the medical staff regarding his elbow, Robbs noticed that small pieces were breaking off the tip of his cane. Requests to the medical unit were unanswered. One day, while returning to his cell, the tip of the cane broke causing Robbs to fall on his shoulder. Years earlier he had undergone surgery on the same shoulder. Id. at 5.

         Nurse Burns wheeled Robbs to the medical unit. He was not given an x-ray for two weeks. Two weeks after that, Robbs was called for a second x-ray. He did not see APRN McCrystal, his medical provider, until three weeks after the second x-ray. McCrystal told Robbs that there was nothing wrong with his shoulder. The x-rays showed only an old healed injury. APRN McCrystal prescribed Elavil, Neurontin, and ibuprofen. Id. at 5-6.

         Nine months later, after many requests, Robbs underwent an MRI. He alleges that “[t]he results were conflicting on what the D.O.C. interpreted them to be.” Id. at 6. Robbs was told that he would receive therapy. He disagreed with the interpretation of the MRI results and the order for physical therapy but Dr. Freston dismissed his concerns. Id. Sometime later, Robbs suffered a mini-stroke and was hospitalized. He attributes the stroke to mental and emotional distress. Id.


          Robbs alleges that he was beginning to serve his sentence when all incidents described in the Amended Complaint occurred. Thus, the Court assumes that Robbs was a sentenced prisoner and considers his claim for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs under the Eighth Amendment. See Darnell v. Piniero, 849 F.3d 17, 29 (2d Cir. 2017) (rights of pretrial detainees are considered ...

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