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Alston v. Lindsey

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 22, 2016

IRA ALSTON, Plaintiff,
v.
AFONSO LINDSEY, DAVID JOSEFIAK, TUTTLE, GREGIO ROBLES, BRIAN JACKSON, ANNE COURNOYER, LISA MOSIER, KRISTIN CARABINE, VICTORIA SCRUGGS, SEAN GUIMOND, MIHALIAK, KIMBER, HAFNER, FELIZ, CASSIDY, CICHOCKI, MUNSON, BOUDREAU, Defendants.

INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Plaintiff, Ira Alston, currently incarcerated at the Northern Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut, has filed this civil rights action pro se under section 1983 of title 42 of the United States Code. Alston brings his Complaint against Defendants Lieutenant Afonso Lindsey, Lieutenant David Josefiak, Captain Tuttle, Captain Gregio Robles, Captain Brian Jackson, Warden Anne Cournoyer, Nurse Lisa Mosier, Nurse Kristin Carabine, Nurse Victoria Scruggs, Lieutenant Sean Guimond, Correctional Officer Mihaliak, Correctional Officer Kimber, Correctional Officer Hafner, Correctional Officer Feliz, Correctional Officer Cassidy, Correctional Officer Cichocki, Correctional Officer Munson and Correctional Officer Boudreau. Doc. 1. All Defendants are named in their individual and official capacities.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review prisoner civil complaints "as soon as practicable after docketing, " 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.

A pro se complaint is adequately pled if its allegations, liberally construed, could "conceivably give rise to a viable claim." Phillips v. Girdich, 408 F.3d 124, 130 (2d Cir. 2005). However, even though liberally construed, a pro se plaintiff must adhere to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, including Rule 8, which requires that a pleading contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." The Court must accept as true all factual matters alleged in a complaint, although a complaint may not survive unless its factual recitations state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Nevertheless, it is well-established that "pro se complaints 'must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'" Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants).

II. ALLEGATIONS

The following facts, recited in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, derive from his Complaint, filed November 17, 2015. Compl. [Doc. 1].

Alston is currently confined at the Northern Correctional Institution, where the incident giving rise to the Complaint occurred. On April 21, 2015, Defendants Feliz and Munson escorted Alston to the shower. Id. ¶ 2. While he was showering, Defendants Feliz, Munson, Boudreau, Kimber, Cichocki, Mihaliak, Cassidy and Hafner entered Alston's cell, destroying personal and legal property and disorganizing all of Alston's legal materials. Id. ¶¶ 3-5. When Alston returned to his cell, he asked Defendant Feliz what caused the destruction in his cell. Id. ¶ 6. Defendant Feliz stated that "this is how we feel about jailhouse lawyers." Id. ¶ 7 (identifying that Alston currently has six pending civil rights lawsuits in this District).

Alston asked Defendants Munson and Feliz to summon a shift supervisor, which they refused. Id. ¶ 8. Alston, in an attempt to "get the attention of the shift supervisor, " then refused to permit Defendants Munson and Feliz to remove his handcuffs. Id. ¶ 9. During this standoff, Defendant Mihaliak told Alston that the corrections officers would not get in trouble for what they did to his cell because the cell was not visible on the surveillance cameras. Id. ¶¶ 10-11. Defendant Kimber eventually summoned a shift supervisor. Id. ¶ 12.

When Defendants Lieutenants Lindsey and Guimond came to the cell, Alston informed them of what the corrections officers had done to his cell, but they refused to look into the cell to view the destruction. Id. ¶¶ 13-15. Instead, they demanded that Alston place his hands through the trap in the cell door to have the handcuffs removed. Id. ¶ 15. Defendants Lindsey and Guimond refused to document the damage to Alston's belongings, stating that they saw nothing to document. Id. ¶¶ 16-17. Alston asked Defendants Lindsey and Guimond to record the state of Alston's cell on a handheld camera. Id. ¶ 19. Defendant Lindsey refused and stated that a handheld camera would only be used to document Alston's placement on in-cell restraint status if he failed to return the handcuffs. Id.

Defendant Lindsey ordered Defendant Munson to get a handheld video camera and called for a mental health staff member to come to Alston's cell for verbal intervention. Id. ¶¶ 21-22. Mental health worker Patrick Ward, a non-party, arrived and spoke with Alston, a conversation that was recorded on the video camera operated by Defendant Munson. Id. ¶ 23. When Ward looked into Alston's cell, he stated that he had seen worse. Id. ¶ 25. Ward agreed to Alston's request that he be a witness to the damage, which led Alston to agree to return the handcuffs. Id. ¶ 26.[1]

When Alston turned around to place his hands through the trap, Defendant Lindsey directed Alston to lie face-down on the bottom bunk for application of restraints so that Alston could be placed on in-cell restraint status. Id. ¶ 26.[2] Defendant Munson, who was operating the video camera, purposefully failed to capture the damage to Alston's cell pursuant to the order of Defendant Lindsey. Id. ¶¶ 27-28 (Defendant Munson "strategically maneuver[ed] the camera footage"). Defendants Lindsey, Cassidy, Hafner and Boudreau applied shackles and a tether chain and escorted Alston to another housing unit where he remained on in-cell restraints for three days.[3] Id. ¶ 29.

These Defendants intentionally made use of a tether chain that was shorter than that normally used, which caused Alston to remain bent over at the waist. Id. ¶¶ 31-32. Despite knowing that Alston's handcuffs were already too tight at this point, Defendant Lindsey directed Defendant Cassidy to tighten them even more, which Defendant Cassidy did. Id. ¶¶ 33-36. The handcuffs caused Alston pain, and left a bruise and scar on his wrists that were still visible as of the date he filed the Complaint. Id. ¶¶ 37-38. Alston complained about the pain and suffering caused by the restraints and requested that they be adjusted. Id. ¶ 39. The restraints were used "solely to punish and harass" Alston. Id. ¶ 42. Defendants Lindsey and Guimond, "who had opportunity and authority to adjust the restraints[, ] did nothing, " nor did those Defendants or Defendants Boudreau, Hafner, or Cassidy investigate Alston's complained-of pain and suffering. Id. ¶¶ 39-40. Further, Defendants Cournoyer, Robles, Guimond, Lindsey, and Tuttle all "approved of the in-cell restraint placement and the type of restraints used." Id. ¶ 41.

At the direction of Defendants Cournoyer, Josefiak, Robles, Guimond, Bradley, Lindsey, and Tuttle, Alston remained on in-cell restraints for three days. Id. ¶ 43. At all times, he was compliant with all rules and regulations and was never disruptive or misbehaving. Id. ¶ 44. Defendants Cournoyer, Jackson, Robles, Tuttle, Josefiak, Lindsey, and Bradley "continue[d] plaintiff on in-cell restraint status for three (3) days without need or valid penological justification." Id. ¶ 45. During his confinement, Alston spoke with Defendants Cournoyer, Robles, Tuttle, Josefiak, Jackson, Guimond, Lindsey, and Bradley, and showed them how tight the restraints were and that they were "causing pain, bruising and unnecessary suffering." Id. ΒΆΒΆ 46-47. Despite these conversations, and that they ...


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