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Vines v. Briatico

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 14, 2016

EDWARD VINES, Plaintiff,
v.
C/O BRIATICO, et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER RE AMENDED COMPLAINT

          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 included in his original complaint claims arising at two correctional facilities. In response to the Court's order, Vines has filed an amended complaint including only his claims arising at Cheshire Correctional Institution. The amended complaint names ten defendants: Correctional Officers Briatico, Owen, Lapointe, Williams, Selgado, and Castle; Counselor Supervisor Bouffard; Captain Garcia; Deputy Warden Powers; and Warden Brighthaupt.

         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. In reviewing a pro se complaint, the Court must assume the truth of the allegations, and interpret them liberally to "raise the strongest arguments [they] suggest[]." Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007). 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 plausible 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.

         I. Allegations[1]

         The incidents underlying this action occurred at Cheshire Correctional Institution ("Cheshire"). Vines separated his statement of facts into two counts, alleging separate facts to support each claim for relief.

         A. Count One

         On July 23, 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. Despite the fact that Cell NB144 was a two-person cell, Vines remained there by himself for over a month.

         On July 25, 2013, Vines wrote to Counselor Supervisor 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 the action 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 the 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 those inmates was 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 follow the chain of command. Vines contends that he did so.

         Vines alleges that, as a result of these actions, his rights to due process and to freely practice his religion have been infringed. He has been placed in punitive segregation and subjected to "character assassination, inmate assaults, threats, retaliation, discrimination ...


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