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Solek v. Naqvi

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 28, 2016

DR. NAQVI, et al., Defendants.


          Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Timothy Solek is a prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction. He has filed a complaint pro se and in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that his rights were violated when he was housed with a cellmate who later attacked him, that his due process rights were violated at a disciplinary hearing stemming from the attack, and that he received constitutionally inadequate medical care for injuries he received from the attack. For the reasons set forth below, I conclude that the complaint should be served on one of the seven defendants; the remainder of plaintiff's claims are dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.


         Plaintiff names seven defendants: Dr. Naqvi, Correctional Treatment Officer Massoia, Lieutenant Danek, Nurse Jane Doe, Lieutenant Richardson, District Administrator Angel Quiros, and Medical Practitioner Terp. Defendants Naqvi and Doe are named in their individual and official capacities. The remaining defendants are named in their individual capacities only.

         The following allegations from plaintiff's complaint are accepted as true for purposes of the Court's initial review. On June 6, 2014, plaintiff was assigned to a cell with an African-American cellmate. Plaintiff wrote to defendant Massoia stating that he was frightened to live with anyone who was not white and asked if a specific inmate, who is white, could be moved into his cell. Instead, defendant Massoia moved plaintiff to a different cell. His new cellmate, Nicholas Martin, was African-American and, according to plaintiff, a “child molester.” Plaintiff made several follow-up requests to defendant Massoia, informing him that he was not getting along with his cellmate and that he wanted to be moved. Massoia did nothing.

         Beginning June 23, 2014, the facility was on a week-long lockdown. Inmates were required to eat their meals in their cells. On June 24, 2014, plaintiff had to use the toilet during dinner, at approximately 4:30 p.m. His cellmate Martin became upset, and the two got into an argument. During the argument, Martin struck plaintiff in the face with a sock filled with batteries, soap, and deodorant. Martin then dropped the sock into the toilet and called for help from the officers serving dinner. Officer Rivenburgh responded and told the two men to stop fighting or a chemical agent would be deployed. When they did not stop fighting, Officer Rivenburgh called a “code blue, ” summoning assistance because of an inmate fight. After assistance arrived, Officer Rivenburgh sprayed a chemical agent onto the men's faces to “gain [their] compliance.” Officer Canfield began video-recording the incident at 4:43 p.m.

         Defendant Danek escorted plaintiff to the medical unit to have his wounds treated. On the way, plaintiff informed a lieutenant that Martin had assaulted him with a sock filled with batteries. Plaintiff overheard someone say that the cell should be treated as a crime scene and that the state police should be called. Martin admitted to the state police and correctional staff that he and plaintiff were not getting along and that he had assaulted plaintiff with a sock filled with batteries.

         At the medical unit, plaintiff was cleaned of the chemical agent, and defendant Doe treated his cuts. She did not personally treat his eye injury. Plaintiff believes that defendant Danek failed to inform defendant Doe that he had been assaulted with a sock filled with batteries. Defendant Doe considered plaintiff's eye injury serious enough to call defendant Naqvi, the on-call doctor. Defendant Naqvi prescribed an ice pack and neurological checks every four hours for twenty-four hours; he did not order an x-ray or MRI. Plaintiff was placed on suicide watch after he told mental health staff that he was afraid to be in a cell with another inmate and said he would kill himself if he were required to share a cell.

         The night of the assault, plaintiff received a disciplinary report for fighting. On June 25, 2014, plaintiff pled not guilty and selected defendant Massoia as his advocate. The next day, Massoia told plaintiff that he would review everything and get back to plaintiff. He did not do so. On July 1, 2014, plaintiff attended the disciplinary hearing. Defendant Massoia did not appear. Plaintiff requested a continuance. The hearing officer, defendant Richardson, denied the request and found plaintiff guilty of the charge. On July 3, 2014, plaintiff was transferred to Corrigan Correctional Center. Defendant Quiros denied plaintiff's disciplinary appeal.

         Although he suffered severe pain, plaintiff received no pain medication or additional testing for his eye injury during the nine days from the incident through his transfer. On July 26, 2014, a nurse noticed a hard nodule above plaintiff's left eye. On July 30, 2014, an APRN determined that the nodule was a cyst and ordered x-rays. The x-rays, taken on July 31, 2014, showed no left orbital rim fracture and did not indicate the composition of the nodule.

         On September 19, 2014, plaintiff filed a grievance against defendants Naqvi and Doe for failing to treat his eye for nine days. On October 20, 2014, defendant Terp reviewed the grievance and stated that the Department of Correction would not acknowledge any failure of medical care and would not order an MRI because the test would be of low diagnostic value. On October 23, 2014, the APRN told plaintiff that the Utilization Review Committee had denied further treatment, but ordered him x-rays. In July 2015, plaintiff was transferred back to MacDougall Correctional Institution.


         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Court must review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, that 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. The Court must accept as true all factual matters alleged in a complaint, although a complaint may not survive unless its factual recitations state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Mastafa v. Chevron Corp., 770 F.3d 170, 177 (2d Cir. 2014). Nevertheless, it is well-established that “pro se complaints ‘must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'” Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants).

         Plaintiff brings claims of (1) deliberate indifference against defendant Massoia for placing him in a cell with an African-American inmate who ultimately assaulted him; (2) denial of due process by defendants Richardson, Massoia, and Quiros regarding the disciplinary hearing; and (3) deliberate indifference against defendants Naqvi, Terp, and Doe for failing to properly treat his injury and causing him pain. He also seeks injunctive relief in the form of ...

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