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Torres v. McGrath

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 3, 2016




The Plaintiff, Candido Torres (“Torres”), is currently confined at Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown, Connecticut (“Garner”). He has filed a complaint pursuant 42 U.S.C. § 1983 naming Unit Manager Robert McGrath (“McGrath”), Lieutenant James Brown (“Brown”), Counselor Supervisor Osden (“Osden”), Director Kim Lacasse (“Lacasse”), Lieutenant McFarland (“Mcfarland”), the New Hampshire Department of Corrections and the State of Connecticut Department of Correction as defendants. For the reasons set forth below, the Complaint is dismissed in part.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must review prisoner civil complaints against governmental actors and “dismiss ... any portion of [a] complaint [that] is frivolous, malicious, or 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. Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

Although detailed allegations are not required, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A complaint that includes only “‘labels and conclusions, ’ ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action’ or ‘naked assertion[s]’ devoid of ‘further factual enhancement, ’” does not meet the facial plausibility standard. Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557 (2007)). Although courts still have an obligation to interpret “a pro se complaint liberally, ” the complaint must include sufficient factual allegations to meet the standard of facial plausibility. See Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).

The plaintiff asserts that Connecticut Department of Correction officials transferred him to the New Hampshire Department of Corrections to serve his sentence. The Plaintiff claims that during his confinement in Connecticut, he had renounced his membership in the Latin Kings gang. Upon being transferred to New Hampshire, the Plaintiff became inducted into the Neta prison gang.

In December 2014, the Plaintiff was incarcerated in the New Hampshire State Prison for Men in Concord, New Hampshire (“NH Concord”). In late December 2014, the Plaintiff became upset about not being permitted to speak Spanish freely, and engaged in an argument with correctional staff. Shortly after the argument, the warden transferred the Plaintiff to the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility in Berlin, New Hampshire (“NNH Berlin”). The Plaintiff claims that his girlfriend learned from New Hampshire Population Management and Classification Director Lacasse that Plaintiff had been transferred in retaliation for his complaints about staff refusing to permit him to freely speak Spanish. The Plaintiff later learned that Unit Manager McGrath was also responsible for the decision to transfer him to Berlin.

The Plaintiff married his girlfriend on January 15, 2015. His wife made him choose between her and his membership in a prison gang. Between February and May 2015, the Plaintiff and his wife wrote many letters to Counselor Supervisor Jaclyn Osden, who works in the Sentence Calculation and Interstate Management Office of the Connecticut Department of Correction. The Plaintiff informed Supervisor Osden that he sought to renounce his membership in the Neta prison gang and that he and his wife were very concerned about potential reprisals by members of the prison gang after he renounced his membership in the gang. He made it clear that he feared for his safety.

On March 13, 2015, the Plaintiff was cut in the back of the head by an inmate who was part of a gang. Prison officials placed him in protective custody. Despite the Plaintiff’s concerns about his safety, Counselor Supervisor Osden informed him that due to the fact that the cut was superficial, he would not be transferred back to Connecticut.

On March 19, 2015, shortly after being transferred to general population, an inmate assaulted the Plaintiff in the bathroom. The Plaintiff immediately contacted prison staff, including Lieutenant McFarland. Prison staff did not report the incident. Prison officials, including Lieutenant McFarland, did not investigate the incident.

In April 2015, the Plaintiff pled guilty to a disciplinary ticket charging him with intoxication. He received multiple sanctions. Counselor Supervisor Osden informed the Plaintiff that he would not be able to return to Connecticut due to a disciplinary infraction that he had received in August 2014. To be eligible to transfer back to Connecticut, prison officials required the Plaintiff to be disciplinary report-free for one year.

On April 18, 2015, the plaintiff contacted Lieutenant McFarland and asked to be placed on in-cell meals because he feared for his safety. He claimed that the Neta gang had placed a hit on him. That same day, the Plaintiff contacted Director Lacasse and sought to be separated from certain inmates who were members of the Neta gang. Director Lacasse responded that she would investigate the information provided by the plaintiff to determine whether separation orders were warranted. Three days later, on April 21, 2015, Lieutenant McFarland denied the Plaintiff’s in-cell meal request.

On May 5, 2015, due to threats against his safety and the theft of his electronic game console, prison officials placed the Plaintiff in protective custody. The Plaintiff wrote to Lieutenant McFarland and Director Lacasse and informed them that he feared for his safety and was emotionally distraught because he could not visit his mother who was chronically ill.

On May 11, 2015, he complained about having suicidal thoughts and feeling depressed. Mental health staff offered the Plaintiff an anti-depressant. On May 12, 2015, the Plaintiff informed Counselor Supervisor Osden that he would be going on a hunger strike in an effort to remain in protective custody.

On May 14, 2015, the Plaintiff tried to commit suicide by cutting his right wrist. Mental health staff placed the Plaintiff on suicide watch in an observation cell and checked him every fifteen minutes. Prison staff also transported him to a hospital to have his ...

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