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Gulley v. Semple

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 21, 2016

CHAZ O. GULLEY, Plaintiff,
LIEUTENANT SEMPLE, et al., Defendants.


          Michael P. Shea United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Chaz O. Gulley, currently incarcerated at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut, filed this case pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting claims for violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. He asserts federal claims for use of excessive force and deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. The plaintiff names as defendants Commissioner Semple, Captain Shabenas, Deputy Warden Zegarzewski, Lieutenant Perez, Lieutenant Shweighoffer, Director of Security Whidden, Captain Korch, Correctional Officer Pearson, Nurse J. Brennan, Counselor Gaudet, and District Administrator Peter Murphy. All defendants are named in individual and official capacities.

         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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. In reviewing a pro se complaint, the Court must assume the truth of the allegations, and interpret them liberally to “raise the strongest arguments [they] suggest[].” Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007). Although detailed allegations are not required, the complaint must include sufficient facts to afford the defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and to demonstrate a plausible right to relief. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Conclusory allegations are not sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         I. Allegations

         The plaintiff divides his allegations into five counts: (1) deliberate indifference/sexual harassment, (2) and (3) unreasonable force, (4) excessive force, and (5) due process.

         A. Deliberate Indifference/Sexual Harassment

         On April 11, 2016, the plaintiff was transferred from Corrigan Correctional Institution (“Corrigan”) to Walker Correctional Institution (“Walker”). His transfer coincided with the service of a complaint in another federal civil rights action filed by the plaintiff. Walker houses security risk group program phases one and two. The plaintiff was housed in phase three of the program at Corrigan. Even though the conditions at Walker were more restrictive, the plaintiff was relieved at the transfer. While at Walker, he had no negative confrontations with correctional staff.

         On July 11, 2016, the plaintiff was transferred back to Corrigan. The plaintiff was confused about the transfer and became paranoid. He told Mental Health staff Linda that he did not feel safe. In response, Mental Health staff placed the plaintiff on Behavior Observation Status in the restrictive housing unit. The lieutenant escorting the plaintiff to restrictive housing told him that the administration would see him in the morning.

         On July 12, 2016, Warden Santiago, Deputy Warden Zegarzewski, and Captain Shabenas stopped at the plaintiff's cell. The plaintiff repeatedly asked why he was back at Corrigan when he was transferred because he had filed a civil lawsuit. Captain Shabenas told the plaintiff that they did not care about his lawsuit. The officials believed that the plaintiff had a sexual relationship with a female officer and, once the officer had transferred to a different correctional facility, the plaintiff was brought back to Corrigan. Captain Shabenas stated that they were also suspicious of the relationship between the plaintiff and supervising psychologist Coursen. The plaintiff claimed a professional relationship only.

         When the officials continued their tour of the unit, Lieutenant Perez inquired about the relationship between the plaintiff and Dr. Coursen. Lieutenant Perez stated that Dr. Coursen was making enemies because she reports improper conduct by correctional staff. He offered to have the plaintiff transferred back to general population if he would help set up Dr. Coursen. The plaintiff ignored the offer.

         Between July 12, 2016, and August 16, 2016, the plaintiff requested mental health services about twice each week for complaints of agitation, stress, depressing moods, and paranoid thoughts. Mental Health Social Worker Matt told the plaintiff that Dr. Coursen was on vacation but would see him when she returned. No other mental health staff member would treat the plaintiff until Dr. Coursen returned, because she had been seeing him weekly and had the best rapport with him. The plaintiff also attributes the lack of treatment to mental health social workers being laid off.

         The plaintiff wrote several letters to Commissioner Semple regarding his Security Risk Group status and placement. Commissioner Semple referred the letters to Director of Security Whidden, who has not yet removed the plaintiff from the Security Risk Group Program.

         On August 12, 2016, the plaintiff signed paperwork to enter phase five of the Security Risk Group Program, the final phase of the program. On August 16, 2016, the plaintiff had a scheduled legal call with Assistant Attorney General Wilson, counsel for the defendants in another of the plaintiff's federal civil rights actions. Counselor Gaudet told the plaintiff that the legal call had been cancelled as the result of a facility lockdown.

         The plaintiff experienced an emotional breakdown and threw a cosmetic item at his cell wall. Lieutenant Perez was called to the housing unit. The plaintiff was told that he would be taken to speak with mental health staff and that he should not receive a disciplinary report for the outburst as he did not threaten to hurt himself or ...

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