United States District Court, D. Connecticut
VERNON L. COWAN, JR., Plaintiff,
JASON CAHILL, et al., Defendants.
RULING ON PENDING MOTIONS
R. Underhill United States District Judge
plaintiff, Vernon L. Cowan, Jr., is currently confined at the
North Branch Correctional Institution in Cumberland,
Maryland. He initiated this action by filing a complaint
against Captain Jason Cahill, Lieutenant Michael Pafumi and
Correctional Officers Orcutt, Prior, Hartley and
Delpeschio. Cowan moves for summary judgment
and for the appointment of counsel. The defendants move for
summary and to stay discovery pending my ruling on the
motions for summary judgment.
motion to stay discovery is denied as moot. For the reasons
set forth below, both motions for summary judgment will be
denied and the plaintiff's motion for appointment of
counsel will be granted.
Standard of Review
motion for summary judgment, the burden is on the moving
party to establish that there are no genuine issues of
material fact in dispute and that it is “entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Rule 56(a), Fed.R.Civ.P.
A fact is “material” if it “might affect
the outcome of the suit under the governing law, ” and
is “genuine” if “a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party” based on it.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
motion for summary judgment is supported by documentary
evidence and sworn affidavits and “demonstrates the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact, ” the
nonmoving party must do more than vaguely assert the
existence of some unspecified disputed material facts or
“rely on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated
speculation.” Robinson v. Concentra Health Servs.,
Inc., 781 F.3d 42, 44 (2d Cir. 2015) (citation omitted).
The party opposing the motion for summary judgment
“must come forward with specific evidence demonstrating
the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact.”
reviewing the record, I must “construe the evidence in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all
reasonable inferences in its favor.” Gary Friedrich
Enters., L.L.C. v. Marvel Characters, Inc., 716 F.3d
302, 312 (2d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). If there is
evidence in the record from which a reasonable factual
inference could be drawn in favor of the non-moving party on
the issue on which summary judgment is sought, summary
judgment is improper. See Security Ins. Co. of Hartford
v. Old Dominion Freight Line Inc., 391 F.3d 77, 83 (2d
one party is proceeding pro se, I must read the
pro se party's papers liberally and interpret
them “to raise the strongest arguments that they
suggest.” Willey v. Kirkpatrick, 801 F.3d 51,
62 (2d Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted). Despite this liberal interpretation, however,
“[u]nsupported allegations do not create a material
issue of fact” and cannot overcome a properly supported
motion for summary judgment. See Weinstock v. Columbia
Univ., 224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000).
complaint and application to proceed in forma
pauperis were dated June 12, 2014, and were received by
the court on June 30, 2014. See Compl., Doc. No. 1
at 1, 17; Application Proceed In Forma Pauperis, Doc. No. 2
at 1, 5. The complaint asserted claims of excessive force and
failure to protect from harm against Captain Jason Cahill,
Lieutenant Michael Pafumi and Correctional Officers Orcutt,
Prior, Hartley and Delpeschio related to incidents that
occurred at Northern Correctional Institution on September 2,
8, 2014, I issued a notice informing Cowan that there were
deficiencies in his application to proceed in forma
pauperis. See Notice, Doc. No. 5. The notice
directed Cowan to correct the deficiencies and to file the
necessary documents on or before July 30, 2014, or the case
would be subject to dismissal. On August 18, 2014, after
Cowan had failed to comply with the notice of insufficiency,
I denied the application to proceed in forma
pauperis and dismissed the complaint without prejudice.
See Ruling and Order, Doc. No. 6. I informed Cowan
that any motion to reopen the dismissal should be accompanied
by a new application to proceed in forma pauperis
with all the necessary supporting documentation and should
also explain why he had filed to comply with the notice of
insufficiency. See Id. On August 21, 2014, the Clerk
entered a judgment closing the case pursuant to my ruling
dismissing the complaint without prejudice. See
Judgment, Doc. No. 7.
August 28, 2014, the Clerk's Office received a letter
from Cowan regarding the dismissal of his case. On September
18, 2014, I issued an order informing Cowan that the letter
would not be construed as a motion to reopen, and that if he
sought to reopen the case, he must file a motion and a new
prisoner application to proceed in forma pauperis.
See Order, Doc. No. 8.
October 6, 2014, I received Cowan's motion to reopen the
judgment and a new prisoner application to proceed in
forma pauperis. See Mot. Reopen, Doc. No. 9;
Application Proceed In Forma Pauperis, Doc. No. 10.
On October 8, 2014, I granted Cowan's motion to reopen.
See Order, Doc. No. 12. On November 6, 2014, I
granted Cowan leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
See Order, Doc. No. 13.
December 31, 2014, Cowan sought leave to amend his complaint.
See Mot. Am., Doc. No. 14. On January 6, 2015, I
granted the motion for leave to amend. See Order,
Doc. No. 16. The amended complaint included the same
excessive force and failure to protect claims against Captain
Jason Cahill, Lieutenant Michael Pafumi and ...