United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
Bond Arterton, U.S.D.J.
Devon Smith brought this suit against Defendants Leo C.
Arnone, Mark Strange, Kimberly Weir, Jose Feliciano, Edward
Maldonado, Brian Bouffard, James Dzurenda, and Smith in their
individual capacities,  alleging violations of his
Fourteenth/Fifth and First Amendment rights. Defendants now
move [Doc. # 89] for summary judgment on all of Mr.
Smith's claims. For the following reasons,
Defendants' motion is granted.
parties' familiarity with the factual background of this
three-year old case is presumed. Defendants seek summary
judgment on five grounds: (1) Plaintiffs due process rights
were not violated; (2) Plaintiffs First Amendment rights were
not violated; (3) Defendants are entitled to qualified
immunity; (4) Plaintiffs complaint is barred by the statute
of limitations; and (5) Defendants Arnone, Strange, Dzurenda,
Feliciano, and Maldonado were not sufficiently personally
involved to be held liable. (See Defs.' Mem.
Supp. Mot. Summ. J. [Doc. # 89-1].) Because, as discussed
below, the Court holds that no reasonable jury could find for
Plaintiff on either his due process claim or his First
Amendment claim, the Court does not reach Defendants'
contends that Defendants deprived him of a state-created
liberty interestin not being placed in administrative
segregation without due process of law. (See
PL's Opp'n Mot. Summ. J. [Doc. # 100] at 7-9.) In
determining whether a plaintiff has stated a claim for
procedural due process violations of the type alleged by Mr.
Smith, courts assess "(1) whether the plaintiff had a
protected liberty interest in not being confined . . . and,
if so, (2) whether the deprivation of that liberty interest
occurred without due process of law." Tellier v.
Fields, 280 F.3d 69, 80 (2d Cir. 2000) (internal
quotation marks omitted). The courts' "determination
of whether the plaintiff had a protected liberty interest in
not being confined also requires a two-part analysis, "
in which courts consider (1) "whether the alleged
deprivation was atypical and significant" and (2)
"whether the state has created a liberty interest by
statute or regulation." Id. (internal
quotation marks omitted).
here alleges that following the filing of the disciplinary
report against him, he was immediately transferred to
Northern Correctional Institute, a maximum security facility,
and placed in administrative segregation. (Compl. f 20.) He
asserts that prisoners in administrative segregation are
denied "all the privileges normally afforded" them
and are unable to earn "good time" credits to
"reduce the[ir] total effective sentence."
(Id. f 22.) Additionally, Plaintiff claims that
prisoners in administrative segregation "must complete a
twelve month program to be removed from that status" and
"[t]hen serve another six month probation period"
before they are placed back in general population.
Defendants note in their reply, however, Plaintiff has
offered no evidence in support of any of the above claims
(see Reply at 4, 7), nor any evidence regarding the
amount of time he spent in administrative segregation or
where he was placed following his "conviction" of
the disciplinary offense. Because Defendants have thus
identified an "evidentiary insufficiency" on
Plaintiffs part, "the burden shifts to" Plaintiff
"to point to record evidence creating a genuine issue of
material fact." Salahuddin, 467 F.3d at 272.
"Like the movant, [Plaintiff] cannot rest on allegations
in the pleadings and must point to specific evidence in the
record to carry [his] burden on summary judgment."
Id. He has failed to do so here. As such, summary
judgment is granted in Defendants' favor on Plaintiffs
due process claim.
next argues that Defendants violated his First Amendment
rights. In his complaint, he alleged that Defendants did so
by denying him "access to the courts, and redress, and
the ability to [mount] a defense" (Compl. f 44-45), but
in his Opposition, he appears to disavow this claim, instead
arguing (somewhat incomprehensibly) that "the injury was
to the defense of the false criminal case against him as well
as the sham review on appeal." (Opp'n at 12.) He
continues: "The First Amendment violation couldn't
be more apparent-the individual defendants failed to preserve
the video of the service of the [disciplinary report] ... so
as to eliminate any chance Smith could substantiate that
[Correctional Officer] Brouffard did not deliver the
[disciplinary report] as sworn to." (Id.)
prove a First Amendment retaliation claim under Section 1983,
a prisoner must show that (1) that the speech or conduct at
issue was protected, (2) that the defendant took adverse
action against the plaintiff, and (3) that there was a causal
connection between the protected speech and the adverse
action." Espinal v. Goord, 558 F.3d 119, 128
(2d Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). Here,
Plaintiff has failed to establish even the first prong of a
First Amendment retaliation claim. Notwithstanding his belief
that the First Amendment violation "couldn't be more
apparent, " it is wholly unclear what protected speech
or conduct he claims to have engaged in to cause Defendants
to retaliate against him. As such, Defendants' motion for
summary judgment is granted as to Plaintiffs First Amendment
foregoing reasons, Defendants' Motion [Doc. # 89] for
Summary Judgment is GRANTED. The clerk ...