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Gulley v. Semple

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 23, 2017

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


          Michael P. Shea United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Chaz O. Gulley, currently incarcerated, has filed an amended complaint in accordance with the Court's December 21, 2016 Order. The plaintiff asserts a claim for use of excessive force against defendants Captain Shabenas, Lieutenant Perez, Lieutenant Shweighoffer, Captain Korch, Correctional Officer Pearson and Captain Doughthery. 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

         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 federal complaint in another federal civil rights action filed by the plaintiff. Walker houses the Security Risk Group Program, phases one and two. The plaintiff had been 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 because he had no negative confrontations with correctional staff at Walker.

         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 also stated that they were 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. He stated that Dr. Coursen was making enemies because she reports improper conduct by correctional staff. Lieutenant Perez 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 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 had not removed the plaintiff from the Security Risk Group Program at the time the amended complaint was filed.

         On August 16, 2016, the plaintiff experienced an emotional breakdown in his cell. Lieutenant Perez responded to the housing unit and told the plaintiff that he would be seen by mental health staff. The plaintiff was handcuffed and escorted to the restrictive housing unit. Lieutenant Doughthery told the plaintiff that he would return to phase 3 and serve six more months in restrictive housing.

         To protest the conditions of his confinement, the plaintiff covered his cell window. Verbal intervention was used and, eventually, the plaintiff consented to be handcuffed. Lieutenants Perez and Shweighoffer, and Captains Korch, Shabenas and Doughthery were present when officials immediately upgraded the plaintiff to four-point restraints. Captain Shabenas ordered both four-point soft restraints and hard metal restraints to be used. Lieutenant Shweighoffer refused to permit the plaintiff to use the bathroom after he had been confined for between three and four hours. Prisoners are supposed to be permitted a bathroom and range of motion break after two hours.

         After three hours, Lieutenant Shweighoffer and other staff refused to switch the plaintiff to in-cell restraints to allow him to use the bathroom. Lieutenant Shweighoffer ordered staff to cut off the plaintiff's clothes and place him in a safety gown.

         After the plaintiff had requested to use the bathroom more than ten times, Lieutenant Shweighoffer offered him a urinal and bedpan, knowing that the plaintiff was chained to the bed and use of ...

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