United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
Michael P. Shea United States District Judge.
plaintiff, Joe Lewis Shehan, commenced this civil rights
action against correctional officers at the
Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center
(“Corrigan”). He asserted claims of excessive
force, deliberate indifference, denial of due process,
negligence, assault, and battery arising from his confinement
in restraints following an incident at Corrigan in November
2014. In earlier rulings, the Court dismissed all except the
following claims: (1) deliberate indifference claims against
defendants Norfleet, Ruggiero, and Clapper; (2) an excessive
force claim against defendants Marten, Erfe, Williams,
Champion, Conger, Norfleet, and Ruggiero; and (3) state law
claims for assault and battery against defendants Norfleet
and Ruggiero. The defendants have filed a motion for summary
judgment addressing the remaining claims. For the reasons
that follow, the defendants' motion is granted in part
and denied in part.
motion for summary judgment may be granted only where there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56(a),
Fed. R. Civ. P.; In re Dana Corp., 574 F.3d 129, 151
(2d Cir. 2009). The moving party may satisfy his burden
“by showing-that is pointing out to the district
court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case.” PepsiCo, Inc. v.
Coca-Cola Co., 315 F.3d 101, 105 (2d Cir. 2002) (per
curiam) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
Once the moving party meets this burden, the nonmoving party
must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine
issue for trial. Wright v. Goord, 554 F.3d 255, 266
(2d Cir. 2009). To defeat the motion for summary judgment,
the nonmoving party must present such evidence as would allow
a jury to find in his favor. Graham v. Long Island
R.R., 230 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 2000).
following facts are undisputed unless otherwise
The Plaintiff's Familiarity with the Grievance
plaintiff was first admitted to the Connecticut Department of
Correction (“DOC”) in 1988. Over the next ten
years, the plaintiff was discharged and readmitted to custody
several times. He also was transferred between Connecticut
correctional facilities many times. On January 5, 2001, the
plaintiff was admitted to custody for his current term of
incarceration and has since been transferred between
correctional facilities multiple times.
readmission and transfers, the plaintiff received inmate
orientation. As part of the orientation process, the
plaintiff received booklets or pamphlets that explained the
prison grievance system. Upon transfer to the
MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in 2006, the
plaintiff received an Inmate Handbook that contained a
section explaining inmate grievance procedures. There is
evidence that the plaintiff had filed at least one inmate
grievance before the incident underlying this action,
although the plaintiff disputes this and the Court will treat
it as a disputed issue. See note 1, supra.
The November 12, 2014 Incident
November 12, 2014, Correctional Officer Hamilton observed the
plaintiff assaulting and fighting with his cellmate in their
cell at Corrigan. When Officer Hamilton called for
assistance, the plaintiff covered the cell window with toilet
paper. Defendant Champion arrived at the cell with other
officers and ordered the plaintiff to uncover the window. The
plaintiff refused and began to yell profanities through the
cell door. Defendant Champion could hear the two inmates
whispering to each other. Officer Hamilton reported that it
appeared that the two inmates were staging the fight.
Defendant Conger attempted verbal intervention without
success. Defendant Champion then ordered both inmates to
approach the cell door so that restraints could be applied.
Both inmates refused to comply. Again, Defendant Champion
heard the inmates whispering to each other. Defendant
Champion disbursed a chemical agent under the cell door and
tried to open the door to secure the inmates. She was
unsuccessful. A clinical social worker and a nurse also
attempted verbal intervention. They were unsuccessful.
“The inmates may have tampered with the locking
mechanism on the door.” (ECF No. 59-2.)
cell extraction teams assembled and the plaintiff was again
ordered to exit the cell. He was warned that the chemical
agent would again be deployed if he failed to comply with the
order. Both inmates refused to comply. Defendant Champion
disbursed another burst of chemical agent under the door.
When this was unsuccessful, defendant Champion deployed a
third burst of chemical agent. After the third deployment,
the inmates complied. They were secured and removed from the
cell. The plaintiff received disciplinary reports for
assault, impeding an order, and hostage-taking. He also was
arrested by the Connecticut State Police on charges of
assault, unlawful restraint, reckless endangerment, and
failure to submit to fingerprints.
he was removed from the cell, the plaintiff was escorted to
the medical unit where he was decontaminated from the
chemical agent. He also was given medical and mental health
examinations for medical approval before being placed in
restrictive housing. The plaintiff refused to answer any
questions. As a result, he was not approved for placement in
restrictive housing. The plaintiff was confined in cell 113
in the medical unit to mitigate any possible self-harm.
Plaintiff's Confinement in In-Cell Restraints
medical unit, the plaintiff was required to participate in
the routine strip search protocol under Administrative
Directive 6.7. This directive requires an inmate to undergo a
strip search before the inmate is placed in restrictive
housing or if the inmate has been involved in a significant
incident. See Defs' Ex. E, Doc. 59-7, Directive
6.7, Section 7(A)(6) and (7). The plaintiff had participated
in a significant incident and was slated for confinement in
restrictive housing, so the strip search was required.
plaintiff refused to bend at the waist and spread his
buttocks. Instead, he wanted to squat and cough. Directive
6.7, Section 3(Q) requires a visible inspection of the
rectum. The parties dispute whether the rectum can be visibly
inspected when the inmate squats and coughs. When an inmate
refuses to comply with a strip search, as defined in
Directive 6.6 Section 3(Q), correctional staff may either
conduct a hands-on controlled strip search under Directive
6.7, Section 7(D), or use in-cell restraints under Directive
6.5, Section 8(A)(4). In-cell restraints may be used to
“ensure compliance with an order” and “to
maintain order, safety and security.” Directive 6.5,
Section 8(A)(4). Shift supervisors may use in-cell restraints
for any reason set forth in Section 8(A). Directive 6.5,
restraints may include one or more of the following:
handcuffs, leg irons, flex cuffs, a “black box, ”
a waist chain, and a tether chain. The inmate is handcuffed
with his hands in front. His ankles are secured by leg irons.
A tether chain connects the two with sufficient slack to
enable the inmate to stand erect. The black box fits over the
handcuffs and covers the keyholes to prevent the inmate from
picking the locks. It forms a rigid link between the
inmate's wrists. In-cell restraints cannot be used as a
punitive measure. Once the restraints are applied, the inmate
must be checked every fifteen minutes with observations
recorded. The shift commander must observe the inmate at
least twice per shift and medical staff must observe the
inmate and conduct a mental health assessment at least twice
per day. Inmates are able to feed themselves and use the
toilet while restrained.
hands-on controlled strip search frequently results in an
explosive situation and exposes staff to injury. In this
case, the officers decided to use in-cell restraints instead.
following facts are supported by evidence submitted by
defendants but disputed by the plaintiff. See note
1, supra. The officers placed the plaintiff in a
safety gown and in-cell restraints in medical unit cell 113.
After the officers applied the restraints, Nurse Martin
checked the restraints in accordance with the restraint
protocol. When Nurse Martin determined that the right wrist
restraint was too tight, the restraint was adjusted. An
officer was posted at the plaintiff's door for continuous
observation. Nurse Martin later observed that the restraints
had been properly applied and allowed for appropriate
circulation and motion.
plaintiff admits that he was confined and shackled in in-cell
restraints from 7:15 p.m. on November 12, 2014, until 2:25
p.m. on November 14, 2014. He denies that, during this time,
his restraints were checked every fifteen minutes or that he
was offered several opportunities to be released from
restraints if he would agree to undergo the strip search
protocol. He admits, however, that ...