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Gray v. Jackson

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 24, 2016

GARY GRAY, Plaintiff,
v.
UNIT MANAGER JACKSON, et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          Stefan R. Underhill United States District Judge

         The plaintiff, Gary Gray, incarcerated and pro se, has filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Unit Manager Jackson and the University of Connecticut Medical Hospital/Health Care Center. For the reasons set forth below, I dismiss Gray's complaint.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), I 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 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 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).

         Gray alleges that in January 2014, he was a pretrial detainee and was confined at MacDougall Correctional Institution. He states that he had been diagnosed with cancer prior to his incarceration, but the condition was in remission. He asserts that once a week, Unit Manager Jackson gave him a watered-down cleaning fluid to clean his cell as well as cleaning supplies that had been used previously by other inmates. He contends that the supplies were not sanitized between uses and were hazardous.

         On or about January 20, 2014, Gray cut himself shaving. At the time, he was using a razor provided to him by a correctional officer. Within a day or two, the cut became irritated and he began to feel feverish and weak. Gray claims correctional staff did not monitor him sufficiently and his condition became worse over the next four days.

         On January 27, 2014, prison staff escorted him to the medical department and admitted to the infirmary. On January 28, 2014, a nurse diagnosed Gray as suffering from pneumonia and a physician directed medical staff to call an ambulance to transfer Gray to John Dempsey Hospital for treatment. At the hospital, physicians diagnosed Gray as suffering from pneumonia and Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (“MRSA”).

         Gray remained in the hospital until February 12, 2014. When he arrived back at MacDougall, a physician ordered Gray to be confined in the infirmary for a short stay and to be isolated from other inmates and staff because he still suffered from MRSA and was recovering from a thoracotomy that had been performed in the hospital.

         Gray seeks compensatory damages and injunctive relief. For the reasons set forth below, I dismiss Gray's complaint with leave to amend.

         I. Official Capacity Claims

         To the extent that Gray seeks damages against the defendants in their official capacities, the claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. See Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 342 (1979); see generally Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159 (1985). I dismiss all such claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(2).

         II. University of Connecticut Medical Hospital/Health Care Center

         To state a claim under section 1983, a plaintiff must allege facts showing that the defendant, a person acting under color of state, law deprived him of a federally protected right. See Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 930 (1982). A state agency is not a person within the meaning of section 1983. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, (1989) (state and state agencies not persons within meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983).

         The University of Connecticut Health Center is a state agency, of which the University of Connecticut John Dempsey Hospital constitutes an integral part. See Walker v. State of Connecticut, No. 06-cv-00165, 2006 WL 1981783, at *2 (D. Conn. Mar. 15, 2006) (“Like other state agencies, the University of Connecticut Health Center is not a person within the meaning of section 1983.” (citations omitted)); Stewart v. John Dempsey Hospital, No. 03-cv-1703, 2004 WL 78145, at *2 (D. Conn. Jan. 9, 2004) (Eginton, J.); see also Ruby v. Massey, 452 F.Supp. 361, 364 (D. Conn. 1978). Because the University of Connecticut Health Center is a state agency, it is not a person subject to suit under section 1983. See Walker, 2006 WL 1981783, at *2; Stewart, 2004 WL 78145, at *2 (holding that John Dempsey Hospital, as part of the University of Connecticut Health Center, “is not ...


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