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Moore v. Murray

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 27, 2017

CHAUNCEY MOORE, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER MURRAY, et al., Defendants.

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

          Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Chauncey Moore is currently incarcerated at New Haven Correctional Center. He has filed a complaint pro se and in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against two correctional officers at Bridgeport Correctional Center. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages for defendants' violations of his rights under the Eighth and First Amendments. After an initial review, the Court concludes that the complaint should be served on both defendants.

         Background

         The following allegations from plaintiff's complaint are accepted as true solely for purposes of the Court's initial review. On February 22, 2015, plaintiff slipped and fell at Bridgeport Correctional Center. Plaintiff was sent in an ambulance to a local hospital for treatment of his injuries. Defendant Correctional Officer Atkins was assigned to drive plaintiff back to Bridgeport Correctional Center upon plaintiff's discharge from the hospital. Though plaintiff was still in a great deal of pain from the accident, defendant Atkins ordered plaintiff to get out of bed and into a wheelchair to be escorted to the parking lot. Plaintiff slipped as he attempted to climb into the vehicle. When he stumbled and screamed out in pain, defendant Atkins laughed at him and accused him of faking his injuries. Doc. #1 at 3 (¶¶ 1-3).

         During the drive back to Bridgeport Correctional Center, defendant Atkins continued to verbally taunt plaintiff. Plaintiff stated that he planned to file a lawsuit against the State of Connecticut for his injuries, as well as a grievance against Atkins for taunting and harassing him. Defendant Atkins responded that he was “going to give [plaintiff] something to grieve about.” Id. at 3-4 (¶ 3). Atkins then began to alternate between slamming on the brakes and the accelerator, making the vehicle jerk back and forth, which caused plaintiff to scream out in pain. Atkins warned plaintiff that if he attempted to file any grievances, he would regret it and his grievances would go unheard. Id. at 4 (¶ 3).

         Back at Bridgeport Correctional Center, plaintiff was transferred to the hospital unit of the facility. He received pain medication and a cane to assist him in walking. He submitted a grievance form against Atkins on February 23, 2015, the day after the incident. Id. at 4-5 (¶¶ 4- 5). On March 5, 2015, plaintiff was transferred out of the hospital unit and into a dormitory unit. Id. at 5 (¶ 6). On March 20, 2015, he filed a second grievance form against Atkins, having received no response to the first form. Id. at 6-7 (¶ 9).

         On April 20, 2015, plaintiff went to the officers' station in his unit to get a roll of toilet paper. When he approached defendant Correctional Officer Murray and asked for toilet paper, Murray began to yell at plaintiff. He accused plaintiff of faking his injuries and verbally harassed him in front of other officers and inmates. Id. at 7 (¶ 10).

         Later that evening, defendant Murray approached plaintiff while plaintiff was sitting down playing chess. Murray kicked plaintiff's chair, hit plaintiff in the face, and then walked away laughing. Plaintiff, who was still in pain from his earlier accident, needed help from fellow inmates to stand up and walk back to his bed. The impact from Murray kicking the chair reinjured plaintiff's back. Plaintiff required extra pain medication that night in order to sleep. Id. at 7-8 (¶ 11).

         The next morning, plaintiff filled out a grievance form against Murray and handed it directly to a supervisor, Captain Poidamani. Captain Poidamani and Lieutenant MacDonald took a statement from plaintiff, which they typed up and had him sign. They told him they would launch an investigation. They then escorted plaintiff to the medical department, to have a photograph taken of his face and to have his back examined. Captain Poidamani and Lieutenant MacDonald also took statements from several eyewitnesses to the incident. Id. at 8-9 (¶¶ 12-14).

         Later that day, in the presence of Captain Poidamani, Officer Murray apologized to plaintiff for kicking his chair and striking him in the face. He stated that he had been joking and never intended to injure plaintiff. Half an hour later, Lieutenant MacDonald escorted plaintiff to Deputy Warden Walker's office. Deputy Warden Walker told plaintiff she was taking the matter seriously and would launch an “extensive investigation.” She asked plaintiff if he wanted to press charges against Murray; plaintiff said he did not want to press charges at the moment but might change his mind in the near future. Id. at 9-10 (¶¶ 15-16).

         On May 2, 2015, plaintiff filed a grievance appeal form, having received no response to the two grievance forms he submitted in February and March against defendant Atkins. On May 12, 2015, prison officials transferred plaintiff from Bridgeport Correctional Center to MacDougall Correctional Institution. Plaintiff believes he was transferred because of the grievances that he filed against defendant Atkins. After his transfer, plaintiff filed a final grievance against Atkins. Plaintiff never received a response to any of the grievances that he filed against Atkins. Id. at 10-11 (¶¶ 17-19).

         Plaintiff seeks damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants Murray and Atkins in their individual capacities. He alleges that they “owed [him] a duty of care and protection but intentionally harmed him by causing him pain and injury.” Id. at 12. Plaintiff claims that as a result of defendants' actions, he developed arthritis in his spinal cord, making it difficult for him to walk, bend over, and move around. He also alleges that he has suffered mental and emotional distress.

         Discussion

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), 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. The Court must accept as true all factual matters alleged in a complaint, although a complaint may not survive unless its factual recitations state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Mastafa v. Chevron Corp., 770 F.3d 170, 177 (2d Cir. 2014). Nevertheless, it is well-established that “pro se complaints must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they ...


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