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Moore v. Chapdelaine

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 6, 2016

JOE MOORE, Plaintiff,



Plaintiff, Joe Moore, currently incarcerated at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut, filed this action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging his sex offender classification score. On July 17, 2015, the Court dismissed all claims against Warden Chapdelaine, the only defendant named in the case caption, and permitted Mr. Moore to file an amended complaint against Dr. Coleman, Counselor Wright, and Counselor Supervisor Wheldon. The Court also stated that Mr. Moore could include Eileen Redden and Len Dutkeiwicz as defendants if he could allege plausibly that their conduct was more than merely negligent. Mr. Moore has filed an amended complaint including all five persons as defendants. Dr. Coleman and Ms. Redden are named in their individual and official capacities. All other defendants are named in their individual capacities only.

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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. 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 afford the defendants fair notice of the claims, and the grounds upon which they are based, 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. “‘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)).

I. Allegations in the Amended Complaint

Mr. Moore sent several letters to Dr. Coleman seeking a copy of his mental health file. On February 10, 2015, Counselor Rosario told Mr. Moore that Dr. Coleman would not see him and directed Mr. Moore to stop writing to Dr. Coleman. Mr. Moore was advised on several occasions that the proper way to obtain information in his mental health file was to submit a request for chart review. On June 18, 2015, Dr. Coleman informed Mr. Moore that his sex offender level was not a mental health classification issue, and directed him to Ms. Redden, the Director of the Sex Offender Program.

Ms. Redden and Mr. Dutkeiwicz met with Mr. Moore on June 23, 2015. Although Mr. Moore allegedly showed them paperwork indicating that he was not convicted of a sex offense, they allegedly told him that his sex offense score would not be reduced from 3 to 1. Defendants Redden and Dutkeiwicz explained that, under the Department of Correction classification manual, correctional officials may consider other charges that were part of the same criminal case that led to conviction when determining an inmate’s sex offense level. In Mr. Moore’s case, he was convicted on a charge of risk of injury to a minor, but two other charges in the same case, for sexual assault in the first degree and sexual assault in the fourth degree, were nolled. Mr. Moore told them that they were making a big mistake by trying to make him complete a sex offender class at MacDougall Correctional Institution.

Counselor Supervisor Wheldon also allegedly refused to reduce Mr. Moore’s sex offense level, and required him to complete a sex offender class. On March 27 and April 2, 2015, Counselor Supervisor Wheldon explained that the classification manual permits the Department of Correction to use other charges which may have been nolled, dismissed, dropped or withdrawn, or even charges on which inmate was acquitted, in determining his sexual offender level, as long as the charges were part of the crime which resulted in his conviction.

Counselor Wright allegedly required Mr. Moore to complete a sex offender program from October 2000 through November 2001, while he was confined at Garner Correctional Institution. She allegedly told him that he would be released on parole if he completed the program. Although Mr. Moore completed the program, he did not “make parole.” II. Analysis In this action, Mr. Moore challenges his sex offender score. He seeks a declaratory judgment that the defendants violated his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, a written apology, reduction of his sex offender score from 3 to 1, compensatory damages, and punitive damages.

A. Dr. Coleman

Mr. Moore alleges that Dr. Coleman was negligent in failing to meet with him. See Amend Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 10. The exhibits to the Amended Complaint show that Mr. Moore asked Dr. Coleman to provide him documents from his mental health file. Mr. Moore was advised of the proper way to obtain the documents. This conduct constitutes, at most, negligence. As the Court explained in its prior order, negligence is not cognizable in a section 1983 action. Initial Review Order at 5, ECF No. 9; see Hayes v. New York City Dep’t of Corrs., 84 F.3d 614, 620 (2d Cir. 1996) (in a section 1983 action, “mere negligence will not suffice”).

Further, Dr. Coleman informed Mr. Moore that his sex offender score is not established by mental health providers. Amend Compl. at 24. Mr. Moore has not alleged plausibly that Dr. Coleman had any involvement in the calculation of his sex offender score or the decision not to reduce it. Mr. Moore has not alleged a cognizable claim against Dr. Coleman.

B. Counselor Wright

Mr. Moore alleges that Counselor Wright required him to complete a one-year program for sex offenders from 2000 to 2001, and falsely stated that, if he completed the program, he would be released on parole.

The limitations period for filing a section 1983 action is three years. See Lounsbury v. Jeffries, 25 F.3d 131, 134 (2d Cir. 1994). Under federal law, a cause of action accrues-and the statute of limitations begins running-when the plaintiff possesses sufficient facts about the harm done to him that reasonable inquiry will reveal his cause of action. See United States v. Kubrick, 444 U.S. 111, 122-24 (1979). Although the statute of limitations ordinarily is an affirmative defense, the district court “may dismiss an action sua sponte on limitations grounds in certain circumstances where ‘the facts supporting the statute of limitations defense are set forth in the papers plaintiff himself ...

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