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Adorno v. Semple

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 28, 2016

SCOTT SEMPLE, et al., Defendants.


          Michael P. Shea United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Alexander Adorno, currently incarcerated at the Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown, Connecticut, filed this case pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. By Initial Review Order filed March 8, 2016, the Court determined that the case would proceed on claims for deliberate indifference to medical and mental health needs, supervisory liability, use of excessive force, failure to protect and deliberate indifference to safety, denial of due process and equal protection, negligence, assault and battery. (See ECF No. 7 at 5.) The defendants move to dismiss on several grounds. For the reasons that follow, the motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Facts

         The plaintiff alleges the following facts. The incidents underlying this action occurred while the plaintiff was confined at Corrigan Correctional Institution (“Corrigan”). Upon his arrival at Corrigan on August 24, 2015, the plaintiff informed staff that he was a transgender inmate and had been sexually abused in the past by other inmates. He requested a single cell or a cellmate who was transgender or homosexual.

         Between August 24, 2015, and September 21, 2015, the plaintiff was housed with two cellmates. Neither was transgender or homosexual. The plaintiff told defendant Iozzia that he feared for his safety. Defendant Iozzia told him to stop complaining and threatened to transfer the plaintiff to restrictive housing. The plaintiff informed defendants Santiago and Martin as well as Supervisors John Doe #1 and #2 of his concerns.

         On September 21, 2015, the plaintiff began “to have mental health issue[s]” and believed that the correctional staff and inmates were going to kill him because he was transgender. (ECF No. 1 at 6.) He smeared feces all over his body. As a result, the plaintiff was transferred to restrictive housing and placed on suicide watch. “During this time for a period of 8 hours [the plaintiff's] body was covered in feces.” (Id.) Defendant Ayotte taunted the plaintiff by repeatedly calling him a “shitty fag.” (Id.)

         On October 12, 2015, defendant Ayotte began swearing at the plaintiff. When the plaintiff asked him to stop, he told the plaintiff to shut up and continued harassing him. Defendant Ayotte ordered the plaintiff to go to the sally port. In the sally port, defendant Ayotte ordered the plaintiff to give him the plaintiff's cup of coffee. When the plaintiff refused, defendant Ayotte tried to take the cup of coffee away. In response, the plaintiff stated that defendant Ayotte could not use force against him without a supervisor present.

         Instead of summoning a supervisor, defendant Ayotte called defendant Olson to the sally port. When defendant Olson arrived, they began assaulting the plaintiff. At no time was the plaintiff combative. Defendant John Doe #3 watched the incident on the camera. Instead of summoning defendant supervisors John Doe #1 and #2 and telling them that the plaintiff was being assaulted, he called a code orange. By calling a code orange, defendant Doe #3 was signaling that the plaintiff had assaulted staff. Defendant Doe #3 knew that the plaintiff was the victim of the assault, but falsified the report to cover up for defendants Ayotte and Olson. As a result of the assault, the plaintiff suffered injuries to his face, hands, head, and ribs. Defendant Nurse John Doe #4 saw the plaintiff after the assault but did not provide any medical care or treatment and falsified medical reports.

         Defendant supervisors Doe #1 and #2 refused to permit the plaintiff to contact the Connecticut State Police and file a complaint against defendants Ayotte and Olson. Defendants Semple, Santiago, Martin, and Supervisors Doe #1, #2, and #5 failed to investigate the incident. Defendants Semple, Santiago, and Martin failed to create a policy to deal with transgender inmates and failed to train staff to deal with medical and mental health issues and the protection of transgender inmates.

         The plaintiff identifies five claims for relief: (1) Defendants Semple, Santiago, and Martin were deliberately indifferent to his safety by failing properly to train Defendants Ayotte and Olson in dealing with transgender inmates and to create policies to protect these inmates (Count One); (2) Defendant Doe #4 was deliberately indifferent to the plaintiff's serious medical needs by failing to provide any treatment for his injuries and Defendants Santiago, Martin, and Supervisors Doe #1 and #2 failed to ensure the medical treatment was provided (Count Two); (3) Defendant Iozzia was deliberately indifferent to the plaintiff's mental health needs by failing to ensure that he was housed with a transgender or homosexual inmate, thereby causing the plaintiff to have a mental break-down (Count Three); (4) Defendants Martin, Santiago, Semple, and Supervisor Does #1, #2 and #5 failed to protect the plaintiff from assault by Defendants Ayotte and Olson (Count Four); (5) Defendants Santiago, Martin, and Supervisors Doe #1, #2 and #5 denied the plaintiff due process and equal protection by denying him his right to contact the Connecticut State Police and failing to enact a policy to protect transgender inmates (Count Five). In the introductory section, the plaintiff asserts state tort claims for negligence and assault and battery, and the Court previously construed his complaint also to assert claims of excessive force against Defendants Ayotte and Olson and a failure-to-protect claim against Defendant Doe #3. (ECF No. 7 at 4.)

         II. Standard

         When reviewing a motion to dismiss, the court accepts all allegations in the complaint as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Cruz v. Gomez, 202 F.3d 593, 596 (2d Cir. 2000). The court need not, however, accept conclusory allegations. The case should proceed only if the complaint alleges “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 681 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 554-55). Determining whether the complaint states a plausible claim for relief is “‘a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'” Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). Even under this standard, however, the court liberally construes a pro se complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam); Boykin v. KeyCorp, 521 F.3d 202, 213-14 (2d Cir. 2008).

         III. Discussion

         The defendants move to dismiss on the grounds that all negligence claims against state employees are precluded by state law; any injunctive relief is moot; the defendants are protected from an award of damages against them in their official capacities by the Eleventh Amendment; the complaint fails to plead facts showing personal involvement by defendants Semple, Santiago, and Martin in the incidents alleged; the complaint fails to state a cognizable due process or equal protection claim; and the plaintiff has not alleged any serious medical needs to support his deliberate indifference claim, identified the Doe defendants alleged to have been deliberately indifferent to his medical needs, or alleged sufficient facts to show that defendant Iozzia was aware of his mental health needs.

         In opposition to the motion to dismiss, the plaintiff has filed a memorandum along with several exhibits. In the memorandum, the plaintiff cites his exhibits to challenge some of the statements in defendants' memorandum. When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court considers only the allegations in the complaint and matters of which judicial notice may be taken. See Garanti Finansal Kiralama A.S. v. Aqua Marine and Trading Inc., 697 F.3d 59, 63 n.4 (2d Cir. 2012).

         If the Court were to consider the plaintiff's exhibits, it would be required to convert the Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss to a motion for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d) (providing that if “matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment…”). The Court declines to do so. Accordingly, the Court will consider only the allegations ...

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