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Hannon v. MalDonado

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 29, 2016

MICHAEL HANNON, Plaintiff,
v.
EDWARD MALDONADO, et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

          Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge

          Plaintiff Michael Hannon was an inmate in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction. He believes that he was subject to unconstitutional conditions of confinement, denied needed medical care, maliciously housed with other inmates of a different race, and retaliated against for making complaints, filing grievances, and filing lawsuits. He has filed two complaints pro se and in forma pauperis seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of the U.S. Constitution, and I conclude that these two cases should be consolidated.[1] For the reasons set forth below, I also conclude that plaintiff has alleged plausible grounds for relief for some of his claims against some of the defendants, and this case will proceed. Although I conclude that plaintiff has adequately alleged some of his claims, this ruling does not constitute any conclusion that plaintiff's claims have actual merit.

         Background

         The following facts are alleged in the complaints and accepted as true only for purposes of this initial ruling. Between January 2015 and January 2016, plaintiff was incarcerated at Osborn Correctional Institution (“Osborn”). Plaintiff brings claims against Correctional Managed Health Care and six individual defendants: Department of Correction Commissioner Scott Semple, Warden Edward Maldonado, Deputy Wardens Sandra Barone and Gary Wright, Counselor Miller, and Richard Furey.[2]

         In his first-filed complaint, plaintiff alleges the following. Plaintiff has filed several complaints with the Commissioner of Correction, grievances, and lawsuits against various counselors, and other staff members at Enfield Correctional Institution, where he was previously incarcerated. Prior to his transfer to Osborn, mental health officials within the Department of Correction had gathered data generated by Correctional Managed Health Care pertaining to his private mental health records to create a profile of him for purposes of determining types of inmates with whom he might be compatible. Plaintiff claims that Maldonado, Barone, and Wright directed custody officials at Osborn to use the information relating to his profile to place him in cells with younger cellmates of other races and cultural backgrounds. In addition, his cellmates have all been members of a gang and have subjected him to derogatory remarks about his race.

         Plaintiff further claims that the housing units in which he was confined at Osborn have been run by minority staff members who give preferential treatment to minority inmates and permit those inmates to control the conditions within the housing units. He alleges that he was eligible to be considered for community release since October 2014 but that Miller refused to complete the paperwork that would allow him to be released. No. 3:15-cv-426, Doc. #1 at 5.[3]

         Plaintiff also alleges that he was housed at Unit E from January 29, 2015, to February 16, 2015. While in Unit E, prison officials deprived him of a single cell (and he was forced to share a 20-square-foot cell with another inmate), recreation and exercise, a job, programs, adequate ventilation and heat, and they forced him to live in unsanitary conditions and eat unsanitary food. The poor ventilation, which included extreme dust and mold, caused plaintiff's blood pressure to rise and the development of congestion, sinus infections, and headaches.

         After being transferred to Unit D on February 16, 2015, plaintiff's conditions of confinement grew worse, forcing him to endure below-freezing temperatures during the months of February and March. Plaintiff subsequently notified Maldonado, Barone, and Semple about the conditions in Unit E, notified Wright about the freezing temperatures, generally, and notified Maldonado and Barone about the conditions in Unit D. Neither defendant took any action to remedy the conditions and, indeed, plaintiff contends Maldonado and Barone ensured that conditions grew worse in retaliation for his complaint.

         During his stay at Osborn, plaintiff also suffered from Hepatitis C and was subject to treatment by Correctional Managed Health Care, the correctional facility's health provider. During this time, plaintiff was denied treatment for his Hepatitis C condition by Nurse Beth Shaw (not named as a defendant) and Furey because he was eligible for community release. Moreover, under Correctional Managed Health Care's certified nursing assistant program for inmates, plaintiff's fellow inmates were given access to his medical records.

         Plaintiff was transferred to Willard-Cybulski Correctional Institution in January 2016. After his transfer, plaintiff was denied outdoor recreation despite mild temperatures and fair weather. Plaintiff alleges that it is a policy across all three correctional institutions to prohibit outside recreation for all inmates from approximately November through May.

         Discussion

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must review prisoner civil complaints against governmental actors and “dismiss . . . any portion of [a] complaint [that] is frivolous, malicious, or 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.” Id. The allegations of a pro se plaintiff's complaint must be read liberally to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest. See Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants).

         In recent years, the Supreme Court has set forth a threshold “plausibility” pleading standard for courts to evaluate the adequacy of federal court complaints. A complaint must allege enough facts-as distinct from legal conclusions-that give rise to plausible grounds for relief. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Notwithstanding the rule of liberal interpretation of a pro se complaint, a pro se complaint may not survive dismissal if its factual allegations do not meet the basic plausibility standard. See, e.g., Fowlkes v. Ironworkers Local 40, 790 F.3d 378, 387 (2d Cir. 2015).

         Conditions ...


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