United States District Court, D. Connecticut
LAMAR FLETCHER acting as Administrator of THE ESTATE of DERANNA FLETCHER, Plaintiff,
CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT of CORRECTIONS; HARTFORD COMMUNITY CORRECTION CENTER; JAMES E. DZURENDA, DOC Commissioner in his official and individual capacities; WALTER FORD, HCC Warden, in his official and individual capacities Defendants.
RULING AND ORDER
MICHAEL P. SHEA, U.S.D.J.
plaintiff, Lamar Fletcher (“Mr. Fletcher”), is
acting as Administrator of the Estate of Deranna Fletcher
(“Decedent”). (ECF No. 23 at ¶ 5.) He brings
this case against the Connecticut Department of Corrections
(“DOC”); Hartford Correctional Center
(“HCC”); James E. Dzurenda, DOC Commissioner
(“Commissioner”) during the Decedent's
incarceration, in his official and personal capacities; and
Walter Ford, HCC Warden (“Warden”) during the
Decedent's incarceration, in his official and personal
capacities. (Id. at ¶¶ 5-9.) The
Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6), and Mr. Fletcher has filed an unopposed motion to
amend the complaint to plead the additional fact that he is
the administrator of the Decedent's Estate. I hereby
GRANT the Motion to Amend (ECF No. 22) and treat
Defendants' motion to dismiss as addressed to the Second
Amended Complaint (ECF No. 23).
to the complaint, this case is about a man who made several
suicide attempts while in the custody of the DOC, the last of
which caused 21 months of hospitalization and his death. (ECF
No. 23 at ¶¶ 21-22.) Before his final suicide
attempt, the Decedent continuously threatened and exhibited
self-harm behaviors, causing mental health assessors to put
him on a suicide watch and recommend transfer to an inpatient
mental health facility. Id. at ¶¶ 16-17.
Despite these recommendations, the DOC, HCC, Commissioner,
and Warden failed to act. Id. at ¶¶ 2-3,
19-20. Mr. Fletcher alleges that the defendants (1) violated
the Decedent's civil rights under the Fourth, Fifth,
Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States
Constitution, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and violated
Article 1, §§ 7, 8, and 9 of the Connecticut
Constitution; (2) caused the Decedent's fatal injuries,
under C.G.S. § 52-555; (3) intentionally inflicted
emotional distress on the Decedent in violation of
Connecticut common law; and (4) negligently inflicted
emotional distress on the Decedent in violation of
Connecticut common law. Id. at ¶¶ 1, 26.
Mr. Fletcher specifically seeks actual and compensatory
damages, damages for emotional suffering, statutory damages,
punitive damages, and attorney's fees and costs.
Id. at ¶ 9.
reasons discussed below, the defendants' Motion to
Dismiss (ECF No. 17) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
Counts One, Two, Three, and Four are dismissed as to the DOC,
HCC, and individual defendants in their official capacities,
and Count Four is dismissed as to the individual defendants
in their personal capacities. Counts One, Two, and Three
against the individual defendants in their personal
The Decedent's Arrest and Unsuccessful Suicide
January 17, 2014, Hartford Police arrested the Decedent and
charged him with two counts of murder and one count of
possession of a firearm. (ECF No. 23 at ¶ 13.) Later
that day, while in custody at HCC, the Decedent
unsuccessfully attempted suicide by wrapping a telephone cord
around his neck. Id. at ¶ 14. As a result, a
HCC mental health professional performed an assessment on the
Decedent, during which the Decedent described his life as
unbearable and expressed that his life was over. Id.
at ¶ 16. The HCC staff member placed him on a suicide
a break in interrogation on January 30, 2014, while
detectives stepped out of the interrogation area, the
Decedent unsuccessfully attempted to hang himself again by
fashioning a makeshift noose out of a computer cable and
placing it around his neck. Id. at ¶ 15. HCC
conducted a Suicide Risk Assessment on January 31, 2014, at
which point personnel concluded that the Decedent suffered
serious mental health issues. Id. at ¶ 17.
During that assessment, the Decedent threatened self-injury
and expressed his belief that it was unlikely he would ever
be reunited with his daughter. Id. In the words of
the Decedent's examiner, “this inmate is at a high
imminent risk for a potentially lethal suicide attempt and
should be transferred to an inpatient facility.”
The Decedent's Final Suicide Attempt and Fatal
2, 2014 was the Decedent's twenty-sixth birthday and was
the day before his scheduled appearance in Hartford Superior
Court. Id. at ¶ 19. DOC personnel conducted a
psychiatric evaluation of the Decedent on February 2, during
which he stated that he felt worse because of his birthday
and that he tried to kill himself. Id. at
¶¶ 19, 30. Later that day, the Decedent again
attempted to hang himself, resulting in serious injuries,
including anoxic encephalopathy caused by a left cerebral
infarct, aphasia, and a stroke. Id. at ¶¶
21, 31. The Decedent was transported to the University of
Connecticut Health Center, where he remained until his death
on November 18, 2015. Id. at ¶ 22.
his suicidal behavior and threats, the Decedent was in the
exclusive custody and control of the defendants. Id.
at ¶ 23. The Warden, who was responsible for the
Decedent's care and safety at all times during his
incarceration, was aware of the Decedent's suicidal
behavior and threats, but failed to intervene by requesting
antidepressants or transferring him to an inpatient facility.
Id. at ¶¶ 18-19, 23-24, 30. Mr. Fletcher
alleges the Decedent's fatal injuries were a result of
the defendants' deliberate indifference to the very high
likelihood that the Decedent would attempt to take his own
life. Id. at ¶ 2. Mr. Fletcher further contends
that the individual defendants, in their personal capacities,
tolerated, condoned, encouraged, authorized, and/or ratified
the deliberate indifference toward the Decedent's high
likelihood of suicide. Id. at ¶¶ 2-3, 18.
considering a motion to dismiss, I take Mr. Fletcher's
“factual allegations to be true and [draw] all
reasonable inferences in” his favor. Harris v.
Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 71 (2d Cir. 2009). “To survive
a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted). “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.”
Id. The plausibility standard “does not impose
a probability requirement at the pleading stage; it simply
calls for enough fact to raise a reasonable expectation that
discovery will reveal evidence” supporting the claim
for relief. Bell Atl. Corp. ...