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Riddick v. Department of Corrections

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 29, 2016

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, et al., [1]Defendants.



Plaintiff Jerome Riddick, currently incarcerated at Northern Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut, filed this case pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by subjecting him to chemical agents, punitive segregation, loss of telephone and visiting privileges, restraints and seclusion, and behavior observation status. Riddick names as defendants the Department of Correction, Commissioner Scott Semple, Warden Anne Cournoyer, Deputy Warden William Mulligan, Nurse Nancy Hill, Nurse Kristin Corabine, Lieutenant Congelos, Lieutenant Guimond, Correctional Officer Rossini, Correctional Officer Sandone and Correctional Officers John Doe ##1-3. The complaint was received by the Court on January 13, 2016. Riddick's motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on January 19, 2016.

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). 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. Nevertheless, it is well-established that “[p]ro 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).

I. Allegations

Riddick is classified as a seriously mentally ill inmate. He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. He has suicidal ideations and engages in acts of self-harm. Riddick has taken medication to treat these conditions since childhood.

A. Placement in Seclusion and Restraints

On December 13, 2015, defendant Congelos sprayed chemical agents into Riddick's cell and at him, causing Riddick to experience burning eyes and lungs, lung congestion, wheezing, difficulty breathing and acute chest pains. Although defendants Nurses Hill and Corabine knew that Riddick suffered from asthma, they approved the use of the chemical agents.

Following deployment of the chemical agent, defendant Congelos ordered Riddick placed in in-cell restraints and on behavioral observation status. The in-cell restraints consisted of handcuffs and leg shackles connected by a tether chain. Defendants Does applied the restraints excessively tightly, thereby exacerbating nerve damage in Riddick's hands, wrists, feet and ankles.

When defendant Congelos told Riddick he would be placed on in-cell restraints, Riddick began banging his head against the cell door until hishead started to bleed and swell. Later that evening, defendant Corabine returned to the housing unit and observed Riddick banging his head on the cell door. She did not report the occurrence. Defendant Sandone saw Riddick banging his head on the cell door. Although he tried to get Riddick to stop, he did not report the incident. Defendants Rossini, Hill and Guimond also observed Riddick banging his head on the cell door and walls but did not report the incident.

B. Denial or Delay of Access to Treatment

Riddick remained in in-cell restraints for three hours. He banged his head the entire time. The defendants permitted this action to continue, allowing Riddick to experience injuries to his face and head including, bleeding, facial swelling, headaches and acute sharp pain in his neck and head. The defendants failed to take photographs to document Riddick's injuries and did not provide any medical care or pain medication.

C. Failure to Accommodate

Defendants Department of Correction, Cournoyer and Mulligan have failed to accommodate Riddick by allowing him to use the telephone and other prison services. Defendants Department of Correction, Semple, Cournoyer and Mulligan told Riddick that he may use only mail service while confined in punitive segregation. Riddick alleges that his mental disabilities make communication by mail less effective than communication by telephone. Riddick contends that this requirement denied him “equal opportunity to obtain the same result, to gain the same benefit, or to reach the same level of achievement as that provided others with communication.” Doc. #1 at 11, ¶ 42. ...

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