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Wood v. Colon

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 19, 2016

JAMES P. WOOD, Plaintiff,
v.
CAPTAIN COLON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION GRANTING AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS

          VANESSA L. BRYANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, James P. Wood, currently incarcerated at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut, has filed this action pro se against defendants Captain Colon, Officer S. Ocasio, Social Worker Erica Richardson and Warden Edward Maldonado.[1] The remaining claims include use of excessive force, use of threats, deliberate indifference to safety by knowingly disseminating false information regarding gang affiliation, retaliation, conspiracy, and failure to discipline staff. The defendants have filed a motion to dismiss all remaining claims. For the reasons that follow, the defendants’ motion is granted and denied in part.

         I. Standard of Review

         When considering a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court accepts as true all factual allegations in the complaint and draws inferences from these allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); Flores v. Southern Peru Copper Corp., 343 F.3d 140, 143 (2d Cir. 2003). The Court considers not whether the plaintiff ultimately will prevail, but whether he has stated a claim upon which relief may be granted so that he should be entitled to offer evidence to support his claim. Walker v. Schult, 717 F.3d 119, 124 (2d Cir. 2013).

         In reviewing the complaint in response to a motion to dismiss, the Court applies “a ‘plausibility standard, ’ which is guided by two working principles.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). First, the requirement that the Court accept the allegations in the complaint as true “‘is inapplicable to legal conclusions, ’ and ‘[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.’” Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Second, to survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must state a plausible claim for relief. Determining whether the complaint states a plausible claim for relief is “‘a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.’” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). Even under this standard, however, the Court liberally construes a pro se complaint. See Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013).

         II. Allegations[2]

         The incidents underlying the complaint occurred at Osborn Correctional Institution. On March 15, 2014, defendant Colon told the plaintiff that he had entered into the Department of Correction main computer a statement that the plaintiff was the “head/leader of the Pecker Wood A/B” gang. [Am. Compl., Dkt. #10-1 at 1]. Defendant Colon stated that this information would prevent the plaintiff from being granted parole. [Id.]

         On March 21, 2014, defendants Colon and Ocasio searched the plaintiff’s cell. [Compl., Dkt. #1 at 6]. During the search, they broke the plaintiff’s headphone and destroyed family photos. [Id.] When the plaintiff complained that they had damaged his personal property, defendant Colon verbally assaulted the plaintiff. [Id.]

         On March 31, 2014, the plaintiff spoke with defendant Richardson in the mental health unit. When he complained about the cell search, she told him that he could not complain about correctional staff and asked him to leave the mental health unit. [Id.] That evening, the plaintiff was called to defendant Colon’s office. Defendant Richardson and several unidentified officers were present. Defendant Colon called the plaintiff a “cry baby and grown up bitch.” [Id.] The verbal harassment continued over the next few weeks. [Id.]

         On May 22, 2014, the plaintiff wrote a letter to defendant Warden Maldonado complaining about defendant Colon’s behavior. [Id. at 9]. When defendants Colon and Ocasio learned about the letter, they pushed the plaintiff in the hallway and threatened harm to him and his family if he continued writing to the warden. [Id. at 8]. Specifically, the plaintiff contends that one of the two officers told him that if he kept “writing the warden [defendant] Colon will have [the plaintiff] and [his] family taken care of[].” [Id.].

         On June 13, 2014, defendant Ocasio searched the plaintiff’s cell and issued him a disciplinary report for possession of sexually explicit materials and nuisance contraband. [Id.] Upon receiving the disciplinary report, the plaintiff was taken to the restrictive housing unit. During transport, defendant Ocasio pushed and verbally assaulted the plaintiff. [Id.].

         The following day, June 14, 2014, the plaintiff wrote a letter to Sandy Wood. [Id.] Defendant Ocasio opened and read the letter. [Id.] Defendant Ocasio claimed the letter contained specific threats against defendant Colon and issued the plaintiff a second disciplinary report. [Id.]. The plaintiff pled guilty to both charges. [Id. at 9].

         On June 24, 2014, the plaintiff learned that he had been denied parole because of the statement defendant Colon had entered into the Department of Correction computer ...


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