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Figueroa v. Ruiz

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 11, 2019

MARCUSS FIGUEROA, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. RUIZ et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

          Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Marcuss Figueroa is a sentenced prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”). He has filed a complaint pro se and in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Figueroa alleges that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need by failing to adequately treat his knee injury. After an initial review, I conclude that the complaint should be served on Dr. Ruiz in his individual capacity as set forth in the ruling below.

         Background

         Figueroa's claims arise from his confinement at Cheshire Correctional Institution. He filed his complaint on June 24, 2019, suing five defendants in their individual and official capacities: Dr. Ruiz and four unidentified Jane Doe nurses. The complaint is barely legible, and although Figueroa was provided with numbered lines and instructions to use them, his allegations consist of a single, run-on paragraph. The following facts are alleged in the complaint and are accepted as true only for purposes of this ruling.

         In March 2017, Figueroa underwent surgery on his right knee to repair a torn ACL and torn meniscus. Doc. #1 at 4. About six months later, Dr. Ruiz instructed him to begin strengthening exercises, such as lunges and squats. Ibid. While doing the exercises, Figueroa felt a popping sensation and experienced pain and discomfort. Ibid.

         A few weeks later, Dr. Ruiz and Figueroa held a videoconference with a surgeon at the University of Connecticut Health Center (“UConn”). Ibid. The surgeon told Dr. Ruiz to immediately send Figueroa to UConn if he experienced any “non-slight” pain in order to avoid further injury. Ibid. As soon as the videoconference ended, Figueroa told Dr. Ruiz about the pain and discomfort he had been experiencing. Ibid. But Dr. Ruiz dismissed his concerns, telling him the pain was caused by scar tissue and to submit a request to the medical unit if the pain worsened. Ibid.

         On September 29, 2017, Figueroa wrote to the medical unit complaining about increased pain, and relaying the surgeon's order to Dr. Ruiz. Ibid. In response, Figueroa was told that the pain was caused by scar tissue and to write again if it worsened. Ibid.

         On October 17, 2017, Figueroa again wrote to the medical unit. Ibid. He was scheduled for an x-ray even though medical staff knew his injuries were in his ligaments, not his bones, such that any damage would only appear in an MRI. Id. at 4-5.

         Figueroa wrote to the medical unit a third time and then was seen by Dr. Ruiz. Id. at 5. Again, Dr. Ruiz said the pain was caused by scar tissue, but this time he advised Figueroa to stop the strengthening exercises for a couple of months. Ibid. When Figueroa resumed the exercises on January 6, 2018, he tore multiple ligaments in his knee. Ibid. Following the incident, he still was not sent to UConn, but rather was transferred to Robinson Correctional Institution. Ibid.

         Figueroa's condition is ongoing and continues to worsen. Ibid. He now seeks from defendants compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of $2.5 million. Ibid.

         Discussion

         Pursuant 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 compliant, 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).

         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 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).

         Eighth Amendment ...


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