United States District Court, D. Connecticut
HECTOR L. RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff,
WARDEN ERFE, et al. Defendants.
RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Hector L. Rodriguez, incarcerated and pro se,
initiated this action by filing a complaint under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against Warden Erfe, Lieutenant Ballaro, Unit
Manager/Captain Muzykoski and Correctional Officers Carlson,
Devito and Savoie. On November 30, 2015, the court dismissed
the claims against Defendants in their official capacities
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(2) and all claims against
Warden Erfe under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). See
Initial Review Order, ECF No. 8. The Court concluded that Mr.
Rodriguez's claims for failure to protect and his
deliberate indifference to safety claims under the Eighth
Amendment should proceed against Ballaro, Muzykoski, Carlson,
Devito, and Savoie. Id. The remaining Defendants
move to dismiss the Complaint. For the reasons set forth
below, their motion is DENIED.
Rodriguez alleges that, in March 2012, he shared a cell with
an active gang member who was known to be violent. Compl. at
Stmt. of the Case ¶10, ECF No. 1. Prior to March 24,
2012, Mr. Rodriguez allegedly sent written requests to Unit
Manager/Captain Muzykoski explaining that he and his cellmate
were not getting along and that he felt that his safety was
in jeopardy. Id. at ¶ 2, see also CN
9601 (Oct. 16, 2012), Pl.'s Response, Ex. A, ECF No. 22.
In response, Unit Manager/Captain Muzykoski allegedly
informed Mr. Rodriguez that part of the gang renunciation
program involved living in a cell with an inmate from a
different gang. Compl. at Stmt. of the Case ¶ 2. On
March 21, 2012, Mr. Rodriguez allegedly spoke to Correctional
Officer Savoie and requested that he be moved to another cell
because he was having problems with his cellmate.
Id. at ¶ 6. Correctional Officer Savoie
allegedly informed Mr. Rodriguez that Lieutenant Ballaro
would not approve his request to be moved to another cell.
March 24, 2012, Mr. Rodriguez's cellmate allegedly
assaulted him with a diamond wedding ring that he used as a
brass knuckle. Compl. at Stmt. of the Case ¶¶ 1, 3.
Mr. Rodriguez alleges that he was “severely”
beaten and “cut very badly” by the diamond ring,
which the cellmate had affixed to his hand with tape.
Id. at ¶ 3. As a result of this incident, Mr.
Rodriguez allegedly suffered an injury to his eye and
received stitches. Id. ¶¶ 1, 8. He is
allegedly still experiencing blurred vision as a result of
the incident and claims that his face is
“disfigured” because there is a scar near his
Rodriguez alleges that correctional officers mishandled the
March 24, 2012 incident, pointing to “numerous
violations” by correctional staff that, he alleges, put
his life in danger. First, Mr. Rodriguez alleges that
Correctional Officer Carlson did not have his radio with him
and could not immediately call a code when he observed Mr.
Rodriguez and his cellmate fighting. Id.
¶¶ 1, 5. Officer Carlson allegedly had to ask
another staff member to call a code several minutes after the
assault began. Id. ¶ 5. As a result, Mr.
Rodriguez alleges, Officer Carlson merely
“watched” the assault occur, without intervening
on Mr. Rodriguez's behalf. Second, Mr. Rodriguez alleges
that Officer Devito was not at his assigned post in the
housing unit when the fight broke out. Id.
Standard of Review
considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the
court accepts as true all factual allegations in the
complaint and draws inferences from these allegations in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Scheuer v.
Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); Bigio v. Coca-Cola
Co., 675 F.3d 163, 169 (2d Cir. 2012). In its review of
the complaint, the court applies a “plausibility
standard, '” which is guided by “[t]wo
working principles.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). First, the requirement that a court
accept as true the allegations in a complaint
“‘is inapplicable to legal conclusions, ' and
‘[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.'” Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66,
72 (2d Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
Second, to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must
state a plausible claim for relief. Determining whether a
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.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
plausibility standard “does not impose a probability
requirement at the pleading stage, it simply calls for enough
facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will
reveal evidence” supporting a plaintiff's claim for
relief. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556
(2007). Furthermore, even under this standard, courts must
liberally construe a pro se complaint. See
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In ruling on
a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court considers
the facts alleged in the complaint, documents either attached
to the complaint or incorporated into it by reference,
“and matters of which a court may take judicial
notice.” Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues &
Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007).
move to dismiss the complaint on the ground that all claims
are barred by the statute of limitations. Defendants contend
that the complaint was not filed until April 8, 2015, the
date it was received by the clerk. Def.'s Mot. to
Dismiss, ECF No. 21-1, 4-5. Because the incident giving rise
to the claims of failure to protect and deliberate
indifference to safety occurred on March 24, 2012, Defendants
argue that all claims are barred by Connecticut's
three-year statute of limitations for personal injury, which
applies to this action. Id. Mr. Rodriguez has filed
a response to the motion to dismiss, but does not address
Defendants' argument that his Complaint was untimely.
See Pl.'s Response. The Court disagrees with
Defendants' argument and concludes that the case may move
forward because of the prison mailbox rule.
federal court looks to state law to determine the “most
appropriate or most analogous” applicable statute of
limitations in a section 1983 action. Walker v.
Jastremski, 430 F.3d 560, 562 (2d Cir. 2005) (quoting
Lounsbury v. Jeffries, 25 F.3d 131, 133 (2d Cir.
1994)). The Second Circuit has held that the general personal
injury statute of limitations set forth in Connecticut
General Statutes § 52-577 should be applied to the
filing of section 1983 claims arising in Connecticut.
Lounsbury, 25 F.3d at 134. Section 52-577 sets a
three-year limitations period running from “the date of
the act or omission complained of.” Conn. Gen. Stat.
a federal court looks to state law to determine the
applicable statute of limitations for claims arising under
section 1983, it must look to federal law to determine when a
federal claim accrues. See Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S.
384, 388 (2007) (“While we have never stated so
expressly, the accrual date of a § 1983 cause of action
is a question of federal law that is not resolved by
reference to state law.”). A section 1983 cause of
action generally accrues “when the plaintiff knows or
has a reason to know of the harm that is the basis of the
action.” Singleton v. New York, 632 F.2d 185,
191 (2d Cir. 1980).
Second Circuit has created a special rule for determining the
timeliness of papers submitted by incarcerated pro
se litigants, citing the unique difficulties faced by
these plaintiffs. See Dory v. Ryan,999 F.2d 679,
682 (2d Cir.1993). Under the “prison-mailbox rule,
” a pro se prisoner's complaint is deemed
filed on the date that he or she delivered the complaint to
prison officials for transmittal to the court, rather than
the date on which the Court received the papers. Id.
at 681 (finding that pro se prisoner's argument regarding
the date he delivered his complaint to prison officials was
“substantiated by a copy of the Department of