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DeAngelis v. Santiago

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 23, 2016



          Michael P. Shea United States District Judge

         The plaintiff, Jeffrey DeAngelis, is incarcerated at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut. He has filed a complaint naming Warden Antonio Santiago, Deputy Warden Martin, Commissioner Scott Semple, Correctional Officers Murphy and Colby, Intelligence Officer Lamotte, Property Officers Muckle and Kudzal, Administrative Remedy Coordinators Michelle King and Kimberly Daly, Lieutenant Field and Statewide Property Liaison Rivera as defendants. For the reasons set forth below, the complaint is dismissed in part.

         I. Legal Standard

         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. 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 assertions]’ 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).

         II. Plaintiff’s Allegations

         The plaintiff claims that on December 29, 2015 at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution (“Corrigan-Radgowski”), Correctional Officers Murphy and Colby entered his cell and began to search it. The plaintiff complained about Officer Murphy chewing tobacco and spitting it out in his cell. During the search, Officer Murphy found a cup of liquid that smelled like it contained an alcoholic substance. The plaintiff allegedly admitted to Lieutenant Field that the cup of liquid belonged to him. Prison officials issued the plaintiff a disciplinary report for possessing an intoxicating substance. Lieutenant Field placed the plaintiff in a cell in the restrictive housing unit. Prison officials released the plaintiff from the restrictive housing unit on January 2, 2016.

         Upon his release, the plaintiff did not receive any of the personal property that had been in his cell prior to the search and his transfer to the restrictive housing unit. Administrative Remedy Coordinator King refused to permit the plaintiff to go to the property room to retrieve his personal property.

         On January 4, 2016, Intelligence Officer Lamotte issued the plaintiff another disciplinary report for contraband allegedly found in his cell on December 29, 2015. The plaintiff claims that this additional report violated Department of Correction Administrative Directives that prohibited multiple disciplinary reports for the same offense arising out of the same incident. The plaintiff alleges that Intelligence Officer Lamotte “maliciously changed the date of the ticket to January 4, 2016, ” and told the plaintiff to “stop messing with our dip, ” referring to the plaintiffs repeated complaints about the use of tobacco by staff. (ECF No. 1 at 7.) Prison officials found the plaintiff guilty of the offense and sanctioned him to ten days of risk reduction earned credits. Prison officials released the plaintiff from the restrictive housing unit on January 8, 2016.

         The plaintiff claims that on December 29, 2015, Intelligence Officer Lamotte removed his personal property from his cell and did not inventory it. Lieutenant Field incorrectly listed another officer as having packed and inventoried the plaintiffs property. On January 8, 2016, the plaintiff went to retrieve his property from the property room. Property Officer Kudzal informed the plaintiff that his Nike sneakers had been confiscated because they cost more than $100.00. Property Officer Kudzal provided the plaintiff with a receipt indicating that he had thirty days to arrange to send his sneakers out of the facility or to have them picked up. The plaintiff informed Property Officer Kudzal that he had been permitted to possess the Nike sneakers pursuant to a decision made by Commissioner Semple and that he had a receipt indicating the sneakers only cost $89.90.

         After reviewing the items of property provided to him by Property Officer Kudzal, the plaintiff noticed that his Nintendo machine, 5 games, his headphones and all of his clothing were missing. Property Officer Kudzal informed the plaintiff that he did not know who had packed his property and Property Officer Muckle had not prepared an inventory of the property when it was delivered to the property room. Officer Kudzal did find an inventory of the plaintiff’s property from November 20, 2015.

         The plaintiff claims that he wrote to Warden Santiago and Deputy Warden Martin on December 29, 2015, regarding the use of chewing tobacco by officers at Corrigan-Radgowski and the fact that he had been recording dates and times when officers had used chewing tobacco. The plaintiff contends that inmates would take the discarded chewing tobacco from trash cans in the prison facility, dry it out and then smoke it. The plaintiff asserts that he has been exposed to tobacco smoke when it came through the vents into his cell and housing unit. The plaintiff claims that the defendants had confiscated his sneakers in retaliation for the grievances that he had filed about tobacco use by correctional staff.

         On February 2, 2016, Commissioner Semple directed Warden Santiago to return the plaintiff’s Nike sneakers to him because they were part of a settlement agreement. Deputy Warden Martin later informed the plaintiff that his sneakers would not be returned to him.

         On February 5, 2016, Property Officer Muckle provided the plaintiff with a memorandum indicating that the sneakers would not be returned to him because they had been altered and informing the plaintiff that he had thirty days to mail them out of the facility or to have them picked up at the facility. Deputy Warden Martin signed off on this memorandum.

         On February 8, 2016, Administrative Remedy Coordinator King assisted the plaintiff in completing paperwork to send the sneakers to Commissioner Semple in order to disprove the allegation that he had altered the sneakers. In early March 2016, the plaintiff sent letters to Administrative Remedy Coordinator King and Warden Santiago regarding his request to have his sneakers mailed to Commissioner Semple. On ...

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