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Crooker v. United States

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

February 3, 2015

MICHAEL ALAN CROOKER, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

F. DENNIS SAYLOR, IV, District Judge.

This dispute arises under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. ยงยง 2671-2680. Plaintiff Michael Alan Crooker filed a complaint against the United States alleging malicious prosecution, negligence, and medical maltreatment by the United States Marshals Service ("USMS") and the United States Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"). The complaint alleged that the USMS and BOP failed to abide by a court order requiring Crooker's pre-trial transfer to a facility where he could be treated for liver disease; failed to provide him eyeglasses for one year; denied him non-emergency dental treatment for nine-and-one-half years; and denied him cataract surgery for four years.

Defendant moved to dismiss all counts for failure to state a claim. This Court granted the motion as to the claim for malicious prosecution, the claim relating to liver disease, and the claims for injuries related to the allegedly inadequate eye and dental care that arose before December 6, 2010. Plaintiff has since waived the claims related to the alleged denial of cataract surgery and dental treatment. The only remaining claim is that based on the alleged delay in receiving eyeglasses. The parties have now cross-moved for summary judgment.[1]

For the reasons stated below, defendant's motion will be granted in part and denied in part and plaintiff's motion will be denied.

I. Background

A. Factual Background

The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.

Crooker is an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland. From January 11, 2012, through November 1, 2013, he was an inmate at the Federal Medical Center in Devens, Massachusetts ("FMC Devens"). Upon his arrival at FMC Devens, Crooker underwent an initial medical screening but did not undergo an eye examination. The parties agree that Crooker owned eyeglasses at that time; Crooker contends that they were nonprescription reading glasses that had been purchased from the prison commissary.[2] Crooker further contends that he began writing to prison officials immediately upon his arrival at FMC Devens to complain of cataracts and impaired vision.

On April 13, 2012, Crooker underwent an eye examination conducted by Dr. Charles Howard, an ophthalmologist. Dr. Howard works full-time at FMC Devens. The examination showed that without correction Crooker had 20/70 vision in his right eye and 20/40 vision in his left eye. The examination also revealed evidence of prior refractive eye, or LASIK, surgery. A dilated examination displayed early cataract changes and a small pigment spot on the iris of the right eye. Finally, the examination showed mild hypertensive changes in the retinas of both eyes. According to Crooker, Dr. Howard told him that he was ineligible for cataract surgery because he was not assigned to a qualifying prison job and because at least one of his eyes would possess vision of better than 20/60 after correction with eyeglasses. The parties agree that Dr. Howard told Crooker that a refraction test for a new eyeglass prescription would be scheduled.

On September 10, 2012, clinicians attempted to perform an automatic refraction test on Crooker's eyes, but the test failed. According to the government, the automated refraction machine was unable to obtain an adequate image for measurement in Crooker's left eye due to his cataract. Crooker appears to contend that the automated refraction machine simply failed independent of his cataract. Dr. Howard told Crooker that he would be scheduled for a manual refraction test.

On December 31, 2012, Crooker underwent a manual refraction test. The test showed that with the aid of a new prescription, Crooker's distance vision would be 20/40 in each eye and reading vision would be between 20/25 and 20/30. It specifically demonstrated that he would not have difficulty reading in the range of 12-15 inches, which is the distance at which Crooker indicated he preferred to read. Crooker expressed satisfaction with vision correction to 20/40.

The parties appear to dispute the actual date that Dr. Howard ordered eyeglasses for Crooker under the new prescription. Dr. Howard's declaration indicates that he placed the order on December 31, 2012, the day of the manual refraction test. However, Crooker has submitted two documents apparently sent to him by prison officials that indicate the glasses were ordered on February 7, 2013.

The parties agree that Crooker received the new eyeglasses on April 9, 2013. Crooker contends that during the time that he was without glasses, he experienced headaches when ...


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