Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ruffino v. Fonovic

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 6, 2016

JAKE J. RUFFINO, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER FONOVIC, Defendant.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          STEFAN R. UNDERHILL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Jake J. Ruffino, currently incarcerated at the Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown, Connecticut, filed this case pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Ruffino alleges that the defendant violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment by failing to summon mental health treatment staff when Ruffino told him that he intended self-harm. Ruffino names one defendant, Correctional Officer Fonovic. The complaint was filed on May 10, 2016. Ruffino’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on May 16, 2016.

         Under section 1915A of title 28 of the United States Code, I 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. Although detailed allegations are not required, the complaint must include sufficient facts to afford the defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and 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. Nevertheless, it is well-established that "[p]ro se complaints ‘must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.’" Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants).

         I. Allegations

         On March 14, 2014, Ruffino was housed in a mental health unit at Garner Correctional Institution. At approximately 12:30 p.m., Ruffino told Correctional Officer Fonovic that he was very upset and thought he might cut himself. Ruffino asked to speak to a mental health staff member. Defendant Fonovic refused to contact the mental health unit on Ruffino’s behalf.

         Subsequently, Ruffino became extremely upset and overwhelmed with suicidal feelings. He cut his left arm deep enough to require sutures.

         Ruffino filed a grievance regarding this incident. The grievance reviewer stated that an investigation revealed no support for Ruffino’s allegations. Ruffino alleges, however, that no one interviewed him or other inmates in the housing unit or examined the surveillance tapes from the housing unit.

         II. Analysis

         Ruffino contends that defendant Fonovic was deliberately indifferent to his safety and serious mental health needs. To state a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious mental health need, Ruffino must show both that his mental health need was serious and that the defendant acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind. See Smith v. Carpenter, 316 F.3d 178, 184 (2d Cir. 2003) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976)). Negligence does not rise to the level of deliberate indifference to support a section 1983 claim. See id.

         Ruffino does not describe the nature of his mental health conditions. If, however, the conditions result in self-harm, they suggest that Ruffino has serious mental health needs. See Young v. Choinski, 15 F.Supp. 3d 194, 207 (D. Conn. 2014) (noting that allegation of self-harm indicates serious mental health needs). Ruffino alleges that he informed defendant Fonovic of the possibility of self-harm as one reason for seeing mental health staff but defendant Fonovic ignored him. The allegations are sufficient to state a plausible claim.

         In addition, Ruffino asserts a claim for deliberate indifference to safety. To state an Eighth Amendment claim, a prisoner must show that the alleged conduct is objectively, sufficiently serious and that the defendant acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind, that is, that he acted maliciously and sadistically to cause harm. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). Ruffino alleges that defendant Fonovic deliberately ignored information that Ruffino needed to speak to mental health staff to avert a possible instance of self-harm. The allegation is sufficient to allege a plausible claim.

         III. Conclusion

         The complaint will proceed on the Eighth Amendment claim against defendant Fonovic for deliberate indifference ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.