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Vines v. Briatico

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 29, 2016

EDWARD VINES, Plaintiff,
BRIATICO, et al., Defendants.


          Stefan R. Underhill United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Edward Vines, currently incarcerated at the Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut, filed this case pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the defendants violated his First, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Vines names fifteen defendants: Correctional Officers Briatico, Owen, Lapointe, Williams, Selgado, and Castle; Counselor Supervisors Bouffard and Long; Captains Garcia and Colon; Deputy Warden Powers; Wardens Brighthaupt and Maldinado; Kevin D. Roy; and Commissioner Scott Semple. The complaint was received by the Court on June 10, 2016. Vines‟ motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on June 16, 2016.

         I. Standard of Review

         Under section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code, the court 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 Id. 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).

         II. Allegations

         The following allegations are taken from Vines‟ complaint. See Compl., Doc. # 1. The incidents underlying this action occurred at Osborn Correctional Institution (“Osborn”) and Cheshire Correctional Institution (“Cheshire”). Defendants Briatico, Owen, Lapointe, Williams, Selgado, Castle, Bouffard, Garcia, Powers, and Brighthaupt worked at Cheshire. Defendants Long, Colon and Maldinado worked at Osborn. Vines has separated his statement of facts into five counts, alleging separate facts to support each claim for relief.

         A. Count One

         On July 25, 2013, Vines was confined at Cheshire. Correction Officer Briatico forced him to move from cell NB124 to cell NB144 or be placed in segregation. Vines is a Muslim. His cellmate, a Christian, was not required to move. Cell NB144 was a two-person cell. Vines remained there, by himself, for over a month.

         On July 25, 2013, Vines wrote to C/S Bouffard, the Unit Manager of North Block One, and copied Deputy Warden Powers. He reported Correctional Officer Briatico for making threats and racial discrimination. On August 2, 2013, defendant Bouffard responded that the tier was experiencing low water pressure at the time of the incident and that not every inmate could be moved to the top tier because there were not enough available beds. Vines considers the response a cover-up.

         That same day, Correctional Officer Briatico retaliated against Vines by calling him a “snitch.” Vines considers that statement defamatory and a danger to his safety because “snitches” are commonly assaulted by other inmates. On August 4, 2013, Vines contacted the security division regarding his personal safety. Copies of that letter were sent to defendants Bouffard and Powers. On August 12, 2013, Vines‟ letter was forwarded to Warden Brighthaupt. On August 21, 2013, Vines filed an administrative remedy form concerning his personal safety. It was returned without disposition. Vines filed a second administrative remedy form on September 1, 2013, but received no response.

         On September 11, 2013, during a 9/11 memorial broadcast, Correctional Officer Briatico stated “To Hell with all these Muslims.” When confronted by other Muslim inmates, defendant Briatico made other derogatory remarks. Vines told the other inmates to make written complaints against her. The following day, Correctional Officer Briatico filed a false disciplinary report against Vines for interfering with safety and security by recommending that the inmates report her.

         On September 20, 2013, Vines wrote to the Commissioner of the Department of Correction regarding the above incidents. On October 4, 2013, Deputy Warden Cepelak informed Vines that a copy of that letter was being forwarded to Warden Brighthaupt. She told Vines he could resubmit the matter to her office only if he was unable to resolve it at the facility or district levels and instructed him to include all responses to his correspondence with any resubmission.

         On September 24, 2013, Vines submitted an administrative remedy form against Correctional Officer Briatico for slanderous remarks against Muslims. He did not receive any written response. On October 2, 2013, Captain Garcia interviewed Vines regarding the remarks on September 11, 2013, and asked him for a list of inmates who had heard the comment. None of these inmates were interviewed regarding the incident. On October 28, 2013, Vines submitted his administrative remedy to level 2. It was stamped “Received, ” but not processed.

         On November 20, 2013, Vines again sought assistance from Deputy Warden Cepelak. On December 9, 2013, Vines received a letter from then Deputy Commissioner Semple telling him to ...

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