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Brown v. Semple

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 16, 2016

KENYA BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT SEMPLE, ET AL., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          STEFAN R. UNDERHILL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The plaintiff, Kenya Brown (“Brown”), is incarcerated at the Cheshire Correctional Institution in Cheshire, Connecticut (“Cheshire”). He has filed a civil rights complaint against Commissioner Scott Semple, Director of Mental Health Dr. Robert Trestman, Dr. Crabb, Dr. Gerald Gagne, Jr., Warden Santiago, Deputy Warden Robert Martin, Deputy Warden Jeffery Zegerzuski, Captain James Shabbanis, Correctional Officer Aponte, Health Services Administrator Ron Lanbontte and Administrative Remedy Coordinator Kimberly Daly. For the reasons set forth below, the complaint is dismissed in part.

         On July 12, and July 15, 2016, the court held telephone conferences with Brown and Assistant Attorney General Madeline Melchionne regarding Brown's request for a temporary restraining order seeking mental health treatment. See Mem. Law Supp. Mot. TRO, Doc. No. 2; Conference Mem. & Order, Doc. No. 10.

         During the telephone conferences, the parties agreed to an interim course of action with regard to Brown's mental health treatment involving twice weekly mental health care, the ability to request additional services if necessary and a complete evaluation of Brown by a physician from the Department of Correction at the end of August to determine Brown's proper mental health classification and whether he should be transferred to a different prison facility based on that mental health classification. See id.

         Pursuant 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. This requirement applies both where the inmate has paid the filing fee and where he is proceeding in forma pauperis. See Carr v. Dvorin, 171 F.3d 115 (2d Cir. 1999) (per curiam). 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).

         Although 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 omitted).

         Brown claims that since 1993, mental health professionals have prescribed medications to treat his various mental health conditions including, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, anti-social traits, suicidal ideation, self-mutilation, depression and post traumatic stress disorder. The Department of Correction has designated Brown with the “S” classification because he has attempted to mutilate himself and commit suicide in the past. The Department of Correction has also created several profiles between Brown and other inmates because of past incidents between Brown and those inmates. Those profiles prevent Brown from being housed at Garner or Osborn Correctional Institutions because the other inmates with whom he had prior conflicts are housed at those facilities and the facilities are not large enough to accommodate both Brown and the other inmates.

         On May 19, 2016, Brown was incarcerated at Corrigan Correctional Institution (“Corrigan”) and became involved in a heated debate with Officer Aponte. Brown became agitated and tried to harm himself. Correctional officials called a code and escorted Brown to the medical infirmary to be placed on suicide watch.

         Officer Aponte left all of Brown's property in his cell after officials escorted him to the infirmary at Corrigan. Brown asserts that some of his property was stolen by his cellmate before officials removed the remaining property from his cell and inventoried it.

         At some point, after the plaintiff's placement in the medical infirmary, Warden Santiago, Deputy Warden Martin, Deputy Warden Zegerzuski, Captain Shabbanis, Health Services Administrator Lanbontte, Dr. Gagne and Dr. Crabb concluded that the only possible course of action was to transfer Brown to Cheshire. Dr. Crabb adjusted Brown's mental health score to facilitate his transfer to Cheshire. On May 31, 2016, correctional officers transported Brown to Cheshire.

         Brown claims that Cheshire does not have the appropriate mental health professionals, resources or services to treat his mental illnesses. Because Cheshire has no mental health units, officials have placed him in the segregation unit on behavior observation status. The conditions of confinement in the segregation unit are unsanitary and unsafe. Brown contends that Drs. Gagne and Crabb, Warden Santiago, Deputy Wardens Robert Martin and Jeffery Zegerzuski, Captain Shabbanis and Administrator Lanbontte were all aware that Cheshire could not provide him with the appropriate mental health treatment, but transferred him anyway.

         Brown claims that Dr. Gagne was involved in the decision to transfer him to Cheshire and approved the decision in retaliation for his filing of past grievances and complaints about mental health treatment. Brown also suggests that the decision to transfer him to Cheshire was made in retaliation for a settlement agreement that he had reached with the Office of the Attorney General pertaining to several lawsuits he had filed against correctional officials.

         Brown characterizes this action as one for emergency injunctive relief to redress deprivations of his rights. See Compl. at 3. In the relief section of the complaint, however, he seeks punitive and compensatory damages as well as declaratory and injunctive relief. See Id. at 32-33.

         I. Section 1981 Claims

         Brown claims that the defendants discriminated against him in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Section ...


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