United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
Dominic J. Squatrito United States District Judge
plaintiff, Eric Atkinson, who is currently incarcerated at
the Cheshire Correctional Institution, commenced this civil
rights action against various medical staff members and
correctional officers at the Bridgeport Correctional Center
(“BCC”) in their individual and official
capacities. He asserted claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 (“Section 1983”) for denial of rights
protected by the Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.
The remaining defendants, Monica Rinaldi, Karl Lewis, Anne
Cournoyer, Jacklyn Bachan, Carl Lovisolo and Lynn Milling,
have filed a motion for summary judgment. For the reasons
that follow, the defendants' motion is granted.
Standard of Review
motion for summary judgment may be granted only where there
are no issues of material fact in dispute and the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56(a),
Fed. R. Civ. P.; In re Dana Corp., 574 F.3d 129, 151
(2d Cir. 2009). The moving party may satisfy his burden
“by showing-that is pointing out to the district
court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case.” PepsiCo, Inc. v.
Coca-Cola Co., 315 F.3d 101, 105 (2d Cir. 2002) (per
curiam) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
the moving party meets this burden, the nonmoving party must
set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine
issue for trial. Wright v. Goord, 554 F.3d 255, 266
(2d Cir. 2009). He must present such evidence as would allow
a reasonable jury to find in his favor in order to defeat the
motion for summary judgment. Graham v. Long Island
R.R., 230 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 2000). The nonmoving
party “must offer some hard evidence showing that its
version of the events is not wholly fanciful.”
D'Amico v. City of New York, 132 F.3d 145, 149
(2d Cir. 1998). Unsupported allegations do not create a
material issue of fact to defeat a motion for summary
judgment. See Weinstock v. Columbia University, 224
F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000). The Court must view all
inferences and ambiguities in a light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. See Bryant v. Maffucci, 923 F.2d
979, 982 (2d Cir.1991). “Only when reasonable minds
could not differ as to the import of the evidence is summary
judgment proper.” Id.
plaintiff is a sentenced inmate in the custody of the
Connecticut Department of Correction. He is serving a
five-year sentence for criminal possession of a
pistol/revolver. On March 25, 2014, the plaintiff was housed
in cell A-5-10 in the Restrictive Housing Unit at BCC. The
plaintiff had been placed in restrictive housing because he
received seven disciplinary reports while confined at BCC.
The disciplinary reports included charges for threatening
staff, fighting, and interfering with safety and security.
Before coming to BCC, the plaintiff was housed at the New
Haven Correctional Institution and the Corrigan Correctional
Institution where he received disciplinary reports for
threatening staff, disobeying direct orders, and endangering
safety and security.
March 25, 2014, defendant Lovisolo was in the restrictive
housing unit at BCC supervising officers who were placing
other inmates in restrictive housing. While doing so,
Lovisolo observed the plaintiff screaming derogatory remarks
at Correctional Head Nurse Steelman. Defendant Lovisolo
approached the plaintiff, who was in his cell with the door
closed. Defendant Lovisolo could see the plaintiff through
the cell door window, which is made of Plexiglas with
perforations to permit sound and air to pass through.
Lovisolo told the plaintiff to stop yelling derogatory
remarks at Nurse Steelman. The plaintiff refused to stop and
used profanity against defendant Lovisolo. He stated that he
had already received 266 disciplinary reports. Defendant
Lovisolo states that the plaintiff spit at him and that some
of the saliva passed through the holes in the window and
struck defendant Lovisolo on the lower jaw, neck and shirt.
The plaintiff denies spitting at defendant Lovisolo and
contends that saliva cannot pass through the holes in the
Plexiglas window.Defendant Lovisolo stepped away from the
plaintiff's cell and continued to supervise the
restrictive housing placements. He reported the incident to
his supervisor, Captain Melms. Defendant Lovisolo told
Captain Melms that he wanted to file a police report and
press criminal charges against the plaintiff for assault.
approximately 10:00 a.m., Correctional Officer Lopez
delivered a disciplinary report to the plaintiff. The charge
was assault on a correctional employee, a Class A
disciplinary offense. At approximately 11:00 a.m.,
Connecticut State Trooper Slaiby arrived at BCC in response
to the reported assault. Defendant Lovisolo told Trooper
Slaiby that the plaintiff had spit in his face and provided a
sworn statement reciting his version of events.
Slaiby spoke to Nurse Steelman about the incident. Nurse
Steelman also provided a sworn statement indicating that she
was checking the wrists of inmates who had just been placed
in restrictive housing when the plaintiff began yelling
derogatory remarks about her and stating that he would
“get” her. Nurse Steelman stated that the
plaintiff yelled the remarks over fifteen times and indicated
that she felt threatened. Nurse Steelman stated that she
ignored the remarks and kept working. When the plaintiff
continued yelling at her, defendant Lovisolo moved closer to
Nurse Steelman and in front of the plaintiff's cell.
Nurse Steelman stated that, while she was performing a
handcuff check, she heard someone spitting. Although she did
not see who was spitting, she knew that the sound came from
the plaintiff's cell. After she heard the noise,
defendant Lovisolo stated that the plaintiff had spit at him.
The plaintiff continued to yell derogatory remarks at Nurse
Steelman and defendant Lovisolo.
Slaiby attempted to interview the plaintiff as part of his
investigation. The plaintiff refused to speak to or look at
Trooper Slaiby. The plaintiff also refused to sign a notice
of rights form or be fingerprinted. The plaintiff was
escorted back to his cell in the restrictive housing unit.
Based on the information learned through his investigation,
Trooper Slaiby charged the plaintiff with the crimes of
assault on safety personnel and refusing to be fingrprinted.
The plaintiff was held on a $5, 000 bond on these charges.
Captain Melms told Trooper Slaiby that the plaintiff also was
being held on other bonds totaling over $300, 000 for other
pending criminal matters. The case was marked closed by
aftermath of this incident, Deputy Warden Jones recommended
that the plaintiff be reviewed for placement on
Administrative Segregation Status and transferred to Northern
Correctional Institution. The plaintiff had two prior
placements on Administrative Segregation Status during which
he received 226 disciplinary reports including sixteen for
assault on correctional employees. On March 25, 2014, the
plaintiff was transferred to Northern Correctional
March 31, 2014, the plaintiff received a Notification of
Hearing form, dated March 28, 2014, informing him that a
classification hearing would be held on April 3, 2014. The
purpose of the hearing was to consider his placement on
Administrative Segregation Status. The notice indicated that
the plaintiff could choose an advocate and submit witness
statements. The plaintiff declined witnesses but provided a
list of advocates. Correctional Counselor Mortimer, the
second name on the plaintiff's list, was assigned as his
advocate. The hearing resulted in a recommendation of
placement on restrictive status for the reasons that the
plaintiff “intentionally spit on a staff member . . .
[and] has also accumulated 267 disciplinary reports.”
(Doc. # 87-14, at 2).
April 7, 2014, Director of Offender Classification and
Population Management Lewis authorized the recommended
placement of the plaintiff on Administrative Segregation
Status. When he was told that his placement had been
approved, the plaintiff stated that he was not worried. He
had completed the Administrative Segregation Program twice
before and would do it again.
Lynn Milling was not involved in the plaintiff's
placement on Administrative Segregation Status in 2014 or at
any time thereafter. Defendant Monica Rinaldi also was not
involved in the plaintiff's placement on Administrative
Segregation Status in 2014 or at any time thereafter.
7, 2014, the plaintiff attended a hearing on the disciplinary
charge for assault on staff. The plaintiff provided a written
statement and identified inmates Nau, Demo and Binnette as
witnesses for the disciplinary hearing. At the conclusion of
the hearing, the charges were dismissed for the following
stated reasons: (1) “failed to be disposed [of] prior
to [the] end of continuance dates, ” and (2)
“issuing facility failed to provide . . . any
documentation not authored by [the] reporting
employee.” (Doc. # 87-18, at 3).
plaintiff appealed his placement on Administrative
Segregation Status, but that appeal was denied for the reason
that “[t]he current incarceration behavior you have
demonstrated since your admission is a valid rationale for
placement . . . . Since August 29, 2013, you were found
guilty in violating the Code of Penal Discipline on 19
occasions. As such the compilations of all of your actions
were taken into account during your hearing and the
Administrative Segregation placement is warranted.”
(Doc. # 87-20, at 2). On May 21, 2014, the plaintiff was
informed that his appeal had been denied.
1, 2014, the criminal charges for assault and failure to
submit fingerprints were nolled by the Honorable Robert
Devlin of the Connecticut Superior Court. The charges were
nolled because, on May 26, 2014, the plaintiff had been
sentenced in a different criminal proceeding to twelve years
imprisonment, execution suspended after five years, with
three years of probation.
plaintiff remained in Administrative Segregation at the time
he filed this action in June 2015. Since May 1, 2014, the
plaintiff has received over 115 disciplinary reports for
offenses including threats, assault on staff, interfering
with safety and security, insulting language and disobeying a
defendants move for summary judgment on eight grounds: (1)
any official capacity claims against the defendants are
barred by the Eleventh Amendment; (2) defendants Lovisolo and
Lewis were the only defendants personally involved in the
incidents giving rise to the plaintiff's complaint; (3)
the plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights were not
violated; (4) the plaintiff's due process rights were not
violated; (5) the plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights
were not violated; (6) the plaintiff's right to equal
protection was not violated; (7) the plaintiff's
conspiracy claim lacks merit; and (8) the defendants are
protected by qualified immunity. The plaintiff's
memorandum in opposition to the motion for summary judgment
asserts arguments to support what he considers the four
remaining arguments in the amended complaint - - violation of
rights under the Fourth and Eighth Amendments and the Due
Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth
Amendment - - but fails to address several of the arguments
raised by the defendants.