United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION
FOR A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
[DKT. NO. 7] AND DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT [DKT. NO.
Vanessa L. Bryant United States District Judge.
Shaka Shabazz (“Shabazz”) filed his Complaint in
the instant action on September 14, 2016, alleging Defendants
James Dzurenda, Angel Quirous, Carol Chapdelaine, Captain
Corl, Corrections Officer Rule, Corrections
Officer Tyburski, Bruce Richardson, Counselor Lisa Grant, and
Corrections Training Officer Thompson (together,
“Defendants”) violated Plaintiff's First,
Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights and intentionally
spoliated evidence in connection with a disciplinary hearing.
[Dkt. No. 1 (“Complaint”).] On October 11, 2016,
Plaintiff Shabazz brought a Motion for a Temporary
Restraining Order and a Preliminary Injunction pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(a), seeking an order to
restrain or enjoin Defendants from conducting future
disciplinary hearings that deny Plaintiff due process. [Dkt.
No. 7 (“Motion”).] For the reasons set forth
below, the Court DISMISSES the Complaint and DENIES
March 15, 2014, Shabazz failed to follow an order from a
corrections officer to step through a metal detector.
Complaint at 5. A disciplinary hearing was held to address
the incident. Id. at 7. Shabazz desired to present
security camera footage at the hearing to support his
innocence, but was not allowed to review the footage himself.
Id. at 7-9. Shabazz was instead offered
representation by an “advocate, ” who would
review the evidence on Shabazz's behalf and submit a
report for the disciplinary hearing. Id. at 7-9.
However, the advocate was also required to submit an
independent conclusion and, in Shabazz's case, the
advocate concluded Shabazz was guilty and recommended he be
“receive consequences accordingly.” Id.
subsequently brought a state habeas corpus action in
Connecticut Superior Court against the Connecticut State
Prison Warden, alleging the disciplinary hearing procedure
denied Plaintiff due process. Shabazz v. Warden, CV14406573,
2016 WL 5339522, *1 (Conn. Super. Ct. Aug. 22, 2016). State
Superior Court Judge Sferraza apparently adjudicated the
merits of the case and found that Shabazz was deprived of due
process because Shabazz was prohibited from marshalling his
own defense, and was provided an advocate who served not to
defend Shabazz, but to contribute an independent conclusion
proclaiming Shabazz's guilt. Id. at *4. As Judge
Sferraza noted, “with advocacy like this, who needs
adversaries?” Id. at *4. The Connecticut
Superior Court accordingly vacated the disciplinary hearing
officer's decision and ordered that “any new
hearing, if one is conducted, comply with the principles
adjudicated in this decision.” Id. at *4.
September 23, 2016, one month after the Connecticut Superior
Court's ruling, Shabazz filed his Complaint in the
instant action, raising Constitutional and tort allegations
in connection with the disciplinary hearing addressing the
March 15, 2014 incident. On October 11, 2016, Shabazz filed
his Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and a
Preliminary Injunction in this action. Motion at 1. Plaintiff
makes the same due process argument in his Motion that he did
before the Connecticut Superior Court: the prison's
current disciplinary hearing procedure fails to provide
Plaintiff an effective advocate and denies Plaintiff the
right to marshal evidence in his own defense, denying him due
Dismissal of the Complaint Under Res Judicata
judicata, or claim preclusion, means that a party may not
split causes of action that ‘could be brought and
resolved together.'” Vandever v. Emmanuel,
606 F.Supp.2d 253, 254 (D. Conn. 2009) (quoting Nestor v.
Pratt & Whitney, 466 F.3d 65, 70 (2d Cir. 2006)).
“This doctrine means that once a case reaches a final
judgment on the merits, the parties cannot later re-litigate
the issues that were raised or could have been raised in that
earlier case.” Id.; see also Waldman v.
Village of Kiryas Joel, 207 F.3d 105, 110-11 (2d Cir.
2000) (stating it is well-established that “a plaintiff
cannot avoid the effects of res judicata by
‘splitting' his claim into various suits, based on
different legal theories (with different evidence
‘necessary' to each suit)”). “Under the
federal rules of res judicata, a subsequent lawsuit will be
barred where the defendantcan show: (1) an adjudication on the
merits in the previous action; (2) that the previous lawsuit
involved the plaintiffs, or those in privity with them; and
(3) that the claims asserted in the subsequent suit were
raised, or could have been raised, in the prior
proceeding.” Greenwich Life Settlements, Inc. v.
ViaSource Funding Grp., LLC, 742 F.Supp.2d 446, 453
(S.D.N.Y. 2010) (citations omitted).
a claim that was not raised in the previous action could have
been raised therein depends in part on whether the same
transaction or connected series of transactions is at issue,
whether the same evidence is needed to support both claims,
and whether the facts essential to the second were present in
the first.” Marvel Characters, Inc. v. Simon,
310 F.3d 280, 287 (2d Cir. 2002) (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted). “Even claims based upon
different legal theories are barred provided they arise from
the same transaction or occurrence.” Cieszkowska v.
Gray Line N.Y., 295 F.3d 204, 205 (2d Cir. 2002).
case, Shabazz bases his Complaint on the same March 14, 2015
incident and subsequent disciplinary hearing that was at the
center of his suit before the Connecticut Superior Court.
Shabazz's Constitutional and tort claims are
“related in time, space, [and] origin, ” to his
prior due process action, and could have been raised in the
prior proceeding. Marvel Characters, Inc., 310 F.3d at 287.
Additionally the finality requirement for res judicata is
satisfied as there is no evidence that any party has appealed
the Superior Court's ruling, and even if an appeal were
pending, it would not preclude the application of res
judicata. Sullivan v. Hyland, 647 F.Supp.2d 143, 173 (D.
Conn. 2009) (“a pending appeal does not preclude the
application of res judicata”). This action must
accordingly be dismissed. As the case is barred by the
doctrine of res judicata and must be dismissed, the court
cannot grant any of the relief the Plaintiff seeks.
Denial of the Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary
the Court had not dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint at this
juncture, it would be compelled to deny his Motion for a
Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction. A
temporary restraining order is an “extraordinary and
drastic remedy, one that should not be granted unless the
movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden of
persuasion.” Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner &
Smith, Inc. v. Reidy, 477 F.Supp.2d 472, 474 (D. Conn.
2007) (quoting Moore v. Consol. Edison Co. of N.Y.,
Inc., 409 F.3d 506, 510 (2d Cir. 2005)). “The
purpose of a temporary restraining order is to preserve an
existing situation in status quo until the court has an
opportunity to pass upon the merits of the demand for a
preliminary injunction.” Garcia v. Yonkers Sch.
Dist., 561 F.3d 97, 107 (2d Cir. 2009). To obtain a
temporary restraining order, the Plaintiff must show
“irreparable harm, and either (1) a likelihood of
success on the merits of the case or (2) sufficiently serious
questions going to the merits to make them a fair ground for
litigation and a balance of hardships tipping decidedly in
favor of the moving party.” See Waldman Pub. Corp.
v. Landoll, Inc., 43 F.3d 775, 779-80 (2d Cir. 1994).
The analysis is the same for a preliminary injunction.
Control Sys., Inc. v. Realized Sols., Inc., No.
3:11CV1423 PCD, 2011 WL 4433750, at *2 (D. Conn. Sept.
22, 2011) (citing Local 1814, Int'l
Longshoremen's Ass'n, AFL-CIO v. N.Y. Shipping
Ass'n, Inc., 965 F.2d 1224, 1228 (2d Cir. 1992)).
satisfy the irreparable harm requirement, Plaintiff must
demonstrate that, absent a temporary restraining order, he
will “suffer an injury that is neither remote nor
speculative, but actual and imminent, and one that cannot be
remedied if a court waits until the end of trial to resolve
the harm.” See Faiveley Transp. Malmo AB v. Wabtec
Corp.,559 F.3d 110, 118 (2d Cir. 2009); Maxum
Petro., Inc. v. Hiatt, 2016 WL 5496283, *1-2 (D. Conn.
Sept. 28, 2016). “Where there is an adequate remedy at
law, such as an award of money damages, injunctions are
unavailable except in extraordinary ...