United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
R. Underhill, United States District Judge.
Davis commenced this action by complaint filed on March 30,
2015. The remaining defendants are Warden Scott Erfe, Deputy
Warden Viger, Counselor Supervisor Jennifer Peterson, Captain
Johnson, and Correctional Counselor Schepp. Davis alleges
that the defendants retaliated against him for filing
grievances and exercising his right of access to the courts.
The defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. Doc.
#18. For the reasons that follow, the defendants' motion
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate when the record demonstrates that
“there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986) (plaintiff
must present affirmative evidence in order to defeat a
properly supported motion for summary judgment).
ruling on a summary judgment motion, the court must construe
the facts of record in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party and must resolve all ambiguities and draw all
reasonable inferences against the moving party.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
(1986); Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S.
144, 158-59 (1970); see also Aldrich v. Randolph Cent.
Sch. Dist., 963 F.2d. 520, 523 (2d Cir. 1992) (court is
required to “resolve all ambiguities and draw all
inferences in favor of the nonmoving party”). When a
motion for summary judgment is properly supported by
documentary and testimonial evidence, however, the nonmoving
party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of
the pleadings, but must present sufficient probative evidence
to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986); Colon v.
Coughlin, 58 F.3d 865, 872 (2d Cir. 1995).
when reasonable minds could not differ as to the import of
the evidence is summary judgment proper.” Bryant v.
Maffucci, 923 F.2d 979, 982 (2d Cir. 1991); see also
Suburban Propane v. Proctor Gas, Inc., 953 F.2d 780, 788
(2d Cir. 1992). If the nonmoving party submits evidence that
is “merely colorable, ” or is not
“significantly probative, ” summary judgment may
be granted. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50.
The mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between
the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported
motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be
no genuine issue of material fact. As to materiality, the
substantive law will identify which facts are material. Only
disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of
summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or
unnecessary will not be counted.
Id. at 247-48. To present a “genuine”
issue of material fact, there must be contradictory evidence
“such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for
the non-moving party.” Id. at 248. If the
nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an
essential element of his case with respect to which he has
the burden of proof at trial, then summary judgment is
appropriate. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. In such a
situation, “there can be „no genuine issue as to
any material fact, ' since a complete failure of proof
concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's
case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.”
Id. at 322-23; accord Goenaga v. March of Dimes
Birth Defects Found., 51 F.3d 14, 18 (2d Cir. 1995)
(movant's burden satisfied if he can point to an absence
of evidence to support an essential element of nonmoving
party's claim). In short, if there is no genuine issue of
material fact, summary judgment may enter. Celotex,
477 U.S. at 323.
first entered the custody of the Department of Correction in
1977. Since then, he has been discharged, readmitted to
custody, and transferred among correctional facilities
numerous times. During some of the readmissions and
transfers, Davis would attend an inmate orientation, at which
he would receive information on multiple topics including the
Inmate Grievance Procedures set forth in Administrative
February 19, 2014, Davis was transferred to Cheshire
Correctional Institution. He attended inmate orientation on
February 21, 2014, and received an inmate handbook. Davis has
filed inmate grievances in the past, demonstrating his
understanding of the grievance procedures.
January 17, 2015, he filed an inmate grievance regarding
cancellation of recreation. At that time, he was housed in
North Block 6, where defendant Peterson was the unit manager.
In February 2015, defendant Schepp became Davis'
counselor. Both Peterson and Schepp are white-skinned
females. Davis is a black-skinned male. About this same time,
Davis applied for a prison job. Defendant Schepp told Davis
that he could not apply for a job until he was disciplinary
report free for one year. On February 6, 2015, Davis
submitted an Inmate Request Form to defendant Peterson
complaining that defendant Schepp had lied to him. He stated
that he knew he could apply for a prison job as soon as he
finished serving disciplinary sanctions. Davis also accused
defendant Schepp of racism. The one-year waiting period to
apply for a prison job is a policy of the Cheshire
Correctional Institution. Davis had received a disciplinary
report on November 12, 2014. Thus, under the facility policy,
the earliest he would be eligible to be placed on the list
for a prison job was November 13, 2015. About that same time,
Davis asked defendant Schepp for a new mattress. Defendant
Schepp did not give Davis a new mattress.
February 6, 2015, Davis spoke to defendant Peterson in the
hallway. He complained that defendant Schepp spoke to him
“like it was 1930 when white women talk to black men
like he a little boy.” Doc. #18-15 at 3, ¶ 23.
Davis based his characterization of defendant Schepp as a
racist on the denial of the new mattress and other things.
Defendant Peterson had spoken with defendant Schepp before
her conversation with Davis and was aware of the situation.
returning from the dining hall, Davis approached defendant
Captain Johnson, an African-American supervisor. Davis
addressed his issues to defendant Johnson because defendant
Peterson did not want to listen to his complaints. At the
time, Defendant Peterson was standing behind defendant
Johnson, and told him to leave.
same day, Davis submitted an Inmate Request Form to defendant
Johnson complaining that defendant Johnson had permitted
defendant Peterson to call him “boy” and to order
him to stop speaking to Davis and leave the area. Doc. #18-15
at 4, ¶ 28. Later in the day, Davis submitted a second
Inmate Request Form to defendant Johnson accusing him of
being in love with a sixty-two-year-old woman. In his
deposition, Davis identified the woman as defendant Peterson.
Davis stated in the request form that he had informed
defendant Deputy Warden Viger about an inappropriate
relationship between defendants Peterson and Johnson.
February 24, 2015, at approximately 12:30 p.m., defendant
Schepp attempted to deliver legal mail to Davis. Correctional
Officer Barnes asked Davis to bring a pen from his cell to
sign for the mail. Davis became disrespectful and demanded
that defendant Schepp provide him with a pen. In response,
defendant Schepp ordered Davis to enter his cell and lock up.
Defendant Schepp left the housing unit for ten minutes and
then returned to deliver Davis' legal mail to him. Davis
signed for the mail and defendant Schepp opened the mail in
his presence. The incident was recorded on the surveillance
video. The following day, Davis submitted an Inmate Request