United States District Court, D. Connecticut
JAKE J. RUFFINO, Plaintiff,
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER FONOVIC, Defendant.
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
R. UNDERHILL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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.
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).
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
Ruffino became extremely upset and overwhelmed with suicidal
feelings. He cut his left arm deep enough to require sutures.
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.
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.
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.
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.
complaint will proceed on the Eighth Amendment claim against
defendant Fonovic for deliberate indifference ...