United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER
Michael P. Shea United States District Judge.
plaintiff, Shaka Shabazz, is incarcerated at the Cheshire
Correctional Institution in Cheshire, Connecticut. He has
filed a motion to amend the complaint. The motion is granted.
The amended complaint names Commissioner James Dzurenda,
District Administrator Angel Quiros, Deputy Warden William
Faneuff, Warden Carol Chapdelaine, Captain Corl, and
Correctional Officer Allen as defendants. For the reasons set
forth below, the amended complaint is dismissed in part.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must review prisoner
civil complaints against governmental actors and
“dismiss . . . any portion of [a] complaint [that] is
frivolous, malicious, or 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. Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
detailed allegations are not required, “a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A
complaint that includes only “‘labels and
conclusions, ’ ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action’ or ‘naked
assertion[s]’ devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement, ’” does not meet the facial
plausibility standard. Id. (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557 (2007)).
Although courts still have an obligation to interpret
“a pro se complaint liberally, ” the
complaint must include sufficient factual allegations to meet
the standard of facial plausibility. See Harris v.
Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations
plaintiff claims that in January 2014, he was incarcerated at
MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution
(“MacDougall-Walker”). On January 31, 2014,
Captain Corl and Correctional Officer Allen issued the
plaintiff a disciplinary report for Security Tampering and
Conspiracy. The charge was based on an envelope addressed to
the plaintiff and received in the MacDougall-Walker mail room
by Officer Allen. Although the envelope included a
handwritten return mailing address indicating that it had
been sent by a legitimate attorney, Officer Allen viewed the
envelope as being suspicious based on the way the envelope
was labeled as legal mail and the fact that the postage
stamps on the envelope had not been validated or cancelled by
the post office. Due to the suspicious nature of the
envelope, Officer Allen reviewed the plaintiff’s recent
telephone calls and concluded that a woman who received of a
telephone call made by the plaintiff on January 30, 2014, had
fraudulently labeled the envelope as legal mail and had sent
the envelope to the plaintiff. Officer Allen, Captain Corl,
and Deputy Warden Faneuff reviewed the contents of the
envelope and noted that it contained instructions and forms
from Sovereign Filing Solutions/Secured Party Creditor.
According to Captain Corl and a member of the Department of
Correction Security Division, an inmate is not permitted to
possess these types of documents unless he or she can show
good cause for possessing them and he or she has a business
that conducts interstate commerce. After reviewing the
contents of the letter, Officer Allen confiscated the letter
and its contents and allegedly made photocopies of the
hearing on the charge, a disciplinary hearing officer found
the plaintiff not guilty of the security tampering charge and
did not impose any sanctions. Neither Officer Allen nor the
hearing officer returned the envelope that had been
confiscated or its contents to the plaintiff. The plaintiff
claims that he submitted multiple requests and grievances to
Warden Chapdelaine seeking to have the contents of the
envelope returned to him. Warden Chapdelaine denied the
plaintiff’s grievance regarding the alleged improper
conduct of Correctional Officer Allen in handling his legal
mail. District Administrator Quiros denied the
plaintiff’s appeal of the decision of the Warden.
plaintiff sues the defendants in their individual capacities
only. He seeks punitive and compensatory damages.
plaintiff claims that he attempted to obtain the documents
that had been in the envelope mailed to him by an attorney
and received by the mail room at MacDougall-Walker on January
31, 2014, but the defendants refused to return the documents
to him. Although the plaintiff does not clearly articulate
all of his legal claims, the Court interprets one of them to
allege a violation of the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court has found that the
Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is not
violated when a prison inmate loses personal belongings due
to the negligent or intentional actions of correctional
officers if the state provides an adequate post-deprivation
compensatory remedy. See Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S.
517, 533 (1983); Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527,
State of Connecticut provides an adequate remedy for the kind
of deprivation the plaintiff alleges. See State of
Connecticut Department of Correction Administrative Directive
9.6(16) (2013), available at
(providing Department of Correction’s Lost Property
Board shall hear and determine any claim by an inmate who
seeks compensation not to exceed $3, 500.00 for lost or
damaged personal property and that the inmate may present the
property claim to the Claims Commissioner after the Board
denies the claim in whole or in part); Conn. Gen. Stat.
§ 4-141 et seq. (providing that claims for payment or
refund of money by the state may be presented to the
Connecticut Claims Commission); S. v. Webb, 602
F.Supp.2d 374, 386 (D. Conn. 2009) (finding Connecticut has
sufficient post-deprivation remedies for seizures of property
by state officials). This state remedy is not rendered
inadequate simply because plaintiff anticipates a more
favorable remedy in federal court or because it may take
longer before his case is resolved in the state system.
See Hudson, 468 U.S. at 535.
plaintiff does not allege that he has attempted to obtain
just compensation from the State of Connecticut or that he
declined to do so because the State of Connecticut’s
remedy for the deprivation of his property was inadequate or
unavailable. Thus, the plaintiff’s federal claim that
the defendants refused to return the documents enclosed in
the letter addressed to him and received by the mail room at
MacDougall-Walker on January 31, 2014, fails as a matter of
law. The property claim against the defendants is dismissed
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
Access to Courts
indicated above, the documents in the envelope that were
confiscated on January 31, 2014, were from Sovereign Filing
Solutions. The plaintiff claims that he intended to consult
with the attorney who mailed him the documents.
well settled that inmates have a First Amendment right of
access to the courts. See Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S.
817, 828 (1977) (modified on other grounds by Lewis v.
Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 350 (1996)). To state a claim for
denial of access to the courts, the plaintiff is required to
demonstrate that he suffered an actual injury as a result of
the conduct of the defendants. See Lewis, 518 U.S.
at 353. To establish an actual injury, plaintiff must allege
facts showing that the defendant took or was responsible for
actions that hindered his efforts to pursue a legal claim,
prejudiced one of his existing actions, or otherwise actually
interfered with his access to the courts. See Monsky v.
Moraghan, 127 F.3d 243, 247 (2d Cir. 1997), cert.
denied, 525 U.S. 823 (1998).
plaintiff claims that the documents from Sovereign Filing
Solutions were related to a civil action and that being
involved in a civil action would not jeopardize the safety of
the facility. The plaintiff contends that at some point after
the documents from Sovereign Filing Solutions were
confiscated by defendant Allen, he attempted to contact the
attorney who had mailed him the documents to ask that he
re-mail another set of the documents to him, but the attorney
“was so shocked by the defendants conduct that he
withdrew from the communication/consultation all
together.” (ECF No. 10-1 at 11.) The plaintiff has not
been able to find another attorney to assist him. There are
no facts to suggest that any civil action that the plaintiff
might pursue in reliance on the documents from Sovereign
Filing Solutions would constitute the type of action that
meets the injury requirement in Lewis. “The
injury requirement is not satisfied by just any type of
frustrated legal claim [and] . . . does not guarantee inmates
the wherewithal to transform themselves into litigating
engines capable of filing” any type of lawsuit. Rather,
the injury must be related to the ability or capacity of
prisoners to “attack their sentences, directly or
collaterally, and . . . to challenge the ...