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Medina v. Black

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

February 1, 2016

ALLISON BLACK, et al., Defendants.


Vanessa L. Bryant United States District Judge

Plaintiff Rogelio Medina, currently incarcerated at the Cheshire Correctional Institution in Cheshire, Connecticut, has filed this action pro se against Defendants Warden Allison Black; Deputy Wardens Kimberly Jones and Denise Walker; Counselor Ciarlo; Lieutenants Cox, Allen, and Brown; and Correctional Officers LaRosa, Denis, Martinez, Campoli, Cummings, Blocker, and Reid. He asserts claims for retaliation, deliberate indifference to his safety, failure to protect him from harm, and denial of equal protection of the laws.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, a 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. In reviewing a pro se complaint, a 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). Detailed allegations are not required, but the complaint must include sufficient facts to afford the defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based. See 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). A plaintiff must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. However, '"[a] document filed pro se is to be liberally construed and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Boykin v. KeyCorp., 521 F.3d 202, 214 (2d Cir. 2008) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)). This Court conducted an initial review applying this standard. In its September 21, 2015 Initial Review Order, this Court held that this complaint sufficiently stated plausible claims for failure to protect, deliberate indifference, denial of equal protection, and retaliation.

Defendants now move to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. The Court already considered and rejected these arguments in its Initial Review Order. A motion to dismiss challenging an initial review is effectively a motion for reconsideration, which must satisfy the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60 standard by showing that the Court, inter alia, overlooked an issue, a material fact on the record, or binding precedent. See Manon v. Hall, No. 3:14-CV-1510 (VLB), 2015 WL 8081945, at *3 (D. Conn. Dec. 7, 2015). Applying this heightened standard gives meaning to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A while preserving a defendant's right to assert defenses under Rule 12. It also fosters the just, speedy, and efficient resolution of the dispute. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 1. Defendants' motion is DENIED for the reasons stated below.

I. Facts

Applying the plausibility standard articulated above, by accepting the factual allegations as true and liberally construing the complaint, the Court construes Medina's complaint to allege the following facts. The plaintiff was transferred to Bridgeport Correctional Center from Cheshire Correctional Institution after he filed a lawsuit against Correctional Officer Arthur Whitehead. The plaintiff was confined in protective custody at the Bridgeport Correctional Center at all times relevant to this action.

Upon his arrival at Bridgeport Correctional Center, the defendants permitted other inmates to bully, harass, intimidate, threaten and provoke fights with the plaintiff in an attempt to get him to withdraw the lawsuit. The plaintiff complained about these actions to defendants Black, Jones, Walker, Cox, Allen and Brown. His complaints were ignored. When the defendants toured the housing unit, inmates would report to the results of their threats and harassment to the defendants. Defendants LaRosa, Martinez, Campoli, Cummings and Reid called the plaintiff a "snitch" in the presence of other inmates, causing those inmates to call the plaintiff "out to fight because of it." Doc. #1 at 6, If 9. The defendants encouraged the inmates to continue the threats and harassment.

The plaintiff sets forth several examples of this harassment. On November 21, 2014, several legal documents were taken from the plaintiffs cell while he was at the gym. Other inmates knew which documents were missing. The plaintiff had no cellmate. He states that correctional officers took the documents or permitted other inmates to do so. The plaintiff reported the incident to defendant Cox but received no reply.

On December 25, 2014, defendant Martinez called the plaintiff a "snitch" during his tour of the housing unit. While recording the incident, defendant Campoli referred to the plaintiff as a "snitch" and told him to stop suing. The plaintiff reported this incident to defendant Jones but received no response.

On January 21, 2015, while in the shower, the plaintiff overheard Deputy Warden Vasquez state that his legal mail had been stopped. The plaintiff did not receive any mail from the state courts or his attorney for four months. He reported the incident to defendant Black. A counselor supervisor responded that his allegations were unfounded.

On six occasions between January 27, 2015, and January 30, 2015, inmates from the housing unit verbally harassed the plaintiff about his crime, called him a "snitch" and threatened to fight with him or harass him until he dropped his lawsuit. Defendant La Rosa encouraged inmates to keep up the harassment to get the plaintiff to drop the lawsuit and seek to leave the housing unit. Another correctional officer encouraged inmates to tell him if the plaintiff agreed to fight or threatened them so the officer could issue the plaintiff a disciplinary report. Inmates told the plaintiff that everyone was going to continue threatening him until he dropped the lawsuit and that if he reported misconduct he would be beaten. The plaintiff reported all of these incidents to defendant Allen. He received no reply.

On January 28, 2015, defendant Martinez called the plaintiff a "snitch" and offered $50.00 to any inmate who punched the plaintiff in the mouth. The plaintiff reported this incident to defendant Jones. He did not receive a reply.

On February 4, 2015, an inmate told defendant Cox in reference to the plaintiff that "we gottem shook." Doc. #1 at 8, U 26. Defendant Cox told the inmate to continue his efforts. Later in the day, defendant La Rosa told an inmate that the plaintiff was a "snitch." On February 6, 2015, defendant La Rosa announced in the dining hall that it would take someone punching the plaintiff in the face to get him to stop snitching and stated that this would happen if the plaintiff reported on defendant LaRosa. The plaintiff reported these incidents to defendant Jones. He received no reply.

From February 4, 2015, through May 2015, the plaintiffs laundry was returned to him unwashed. He had to wash his clothing by hand without soap. He overheard defendant Blocker telling other inmates to let the pedophile wash his ...

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