United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
A. Bolden, United States District Judge.
Rogelio Medina, currently incarcerated at the Garner
Correctional Center, filed this Complaint pro se
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Mr. Medina's Complaint was
received on December 15, 2016, and his motion to proceed
in forma pauperis was granted on December 22, 2016.
The Defendant is Shirly Watson, Mr. Medina's Social
Worker. Mr. Medina alleges that Ms. Watson violated his Ninth
Amendment right to privacy by disclosing his mental health
diagnosis to custodial staff. He seeks damages from the
Defendant in her individual capacity.
Standard of Review
section 1915A of title 28 of the United States Code, 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 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 that they
suggest.” Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399,
403 (2d Cir. 2013); see also Tracy v. Freshwater,
623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules
of solicitude for pro se litigants).
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 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
August 23, 2016, Mr. Medina was walking about the tier during
the recreation period. Compl., ECF No. 1, 1. He allegedly
overheard the defendants speaking with Correctional Officer
Judkins. Id. Ms. Watson allegedly told Officer
Judkins that Mr. Medina suffers from borderline personality
disorder and is constantly paranoid. Id. at 2. Mr.
Medina allegedly never gave the Defendant permission to
discuss his diagnosis with custodial staff. Id. at
inmates allegedly overheard the conversation as well. Compl.,
4. They allegedly knew who was being discussed because Ms.
Watson allegedly referred to him as Medina and there are no
other inmates named Medina in the cell block. Id.
After the conversation, other inmates allegedly have made Mr.
Medina paranoid by making him think they are after him.
Id. at 5. The other inmates allegedly “call
[Mr. Medina] retard slow dumb and say kill yourself.”
Id. The harassment allegedly has affected Mr. Medina
mentally and emotionally because he also suffers from
depression. Id. at 6.
Second Circuit has recognized a constitutional right to
“maintain the confidentiality of previously undisclosed
medical information.” Powell v. Schriver, 175
F.3d 107, 112 (2d Cir. 1999). Accordingly, prison officials
can only disclose medical information to the extent that
disclosure relates to a “legitimate penological
interest.” Id. “The gratuitous
disclosure of an inmate's confidential medical
information as humor or gossip … is not reasonably
related to a legitimate penological interest, ” and
therefore “violates the inmate's constitutional
right to privacy.” Id.
degree of protection afforded to an inmate's right to
confidentiality regarding a medical condition varies with the
“sensitive” nature of the condition.
Powell, 175 F.3d at 111. To state a claim for
violation of this right, Mr. Medina must show that he suffers
from an unusual or sensitive medical condition that, if
disclosed, would expose him to ridicule, discrimination or
even violence, particularly when the word of the condition is
likely to spread through “humor or gossip[.]”
Id. at 112; see also Rodriguez v. Ames, 287
F.Supp.2d 213, 220 (W.D.N.Y. 2003) (dismissing case because
plaintiff did not have an “unusual medical problem
which, if disclosed unnecessarily to other inmates, would
likely expose plaintiff to discrimination, intolerance, or
potential violence”); Webb v. Goldstein, 117
F.Supp.2d 289, 298-99 (E.D.N.Y. 2000) (dismissing a
Fourteenth Amendment claim because the prisoner “has
not alleged that his prison records contained the sort of
sensitive medical information at issue in ...
Medina alleges that Ms. Watson improperly disclosed
information about his mental health. The Second Circuit has
held that an allegation of public disclosure of mental health
issues is sufficient to state a privacy claim. Hunnicutt
v. Armstrong, 152 F. App'x 34, 35-36 (2d Cir. 2005)
(reversing dismissal because plaintiff's allegations that
the defendants “discussed [his] private/personal mental
health issues on the tier” and “in front of other
prisoners and D.O.C. employees” gave “adequate
notice of a right to privacy claim based on the public
discussion of [plainiff's] mental health issues”).
Mr. Medina's claim will ...