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McClendon v. Murphy

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 24, 2017




         The plaintiff, Charlie J. McClendon, is currently incarcerated at Cheshire Correctional Institution ("Cheshire") in Cheshire, Connecticut. He initiated this action by filing a civil rights complaint naming Warden Peter Murphy, Captains M. Beaudry and Mainly, Lieutenant Pain, Intelligence Officials Allen and Perze, and Investigator Roy as defendants. On June 23, 2015, the court dismissed all Fourteenth Amendment Due Process and Equal Protection claims and the claims that defendants Beaudry, Mainly, Pain, Allen and Perze violated the plaintiff's First Amendment right to be free from retaliation. The court concluded that only the First Amendment retaliation claims against defendants Roy and Murphy in their individual and official capacities would proceed.

         On August 5, 2015, the plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint against Warden Murphy and Investigator Roy. On November 3, 2015, the court granted the motion to amend to the extent that it sought to clarify the retaliation claims against defendants Roy and Murphy and denied the motion to the extent that it sought to add a due process claim regarding the plaintiff's transfer to administrative segregation on November 11, 2011. The court directed the clerk to docket the proposed amended complaint as the amended complaint and clarified that the claim of a violation of due process in connection with the plaintiff's transfer to administrative segregation on November 11, 2011, as set forth in the amended complaint, was dismissed for the same reasons it was dismissed in the court's prior Ruling.

         Thus, the case proceeds only as to the claims in the amended complaint, ECF No. 23, of retaliation against defendants Murphy and Roy. Defendants Murphy and Roy have moved for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

         I. Standard of Review

          "The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is "material" if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, " and is "genuine" if "a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party" based on it. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986) .

         When a motion for summary judgment is supported by documentary evidence and sworn affidavits and "demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, " the nonmoving party must do more than vaguely assert the existence of some unspecified disputed material facts or "rely on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation." Robinson v. Concentra Health Services, Inc., 781 F.3d 42, 44 (2d Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, the party opposing the motion for summary judgment "must come forward with specific evidence demonstrating the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). If there is any evidence in the record from which a reasonable factual inference could be drawn in favor of the opposing party on the issue on which summary judgment is sought, however, summary judgment is improper. See Security Ins. Co. of Hartford v. Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., 391 F.3d 77, 83 (2d Cir. 2004). In reviewing the record, the court must "construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor." Gary Friedrich Enterprises, LLC v. Marvel Characters, Inc., 716 F.3d 302, 312 (2d Cir. 2013).

         Where one party is proceeding pro se, the court reads the pro se party's papers liberally and interprets them "to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Willey v. Kirkpatrick, 801 F.3d 51, 62 (2d Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks omitted). Despite this liberal interpretation, however, "unsupported allegations do not create a material issue of fact" and cannot overcome a properly supported motion for summary judgment. Weinstock v. Columbia University, 224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000).

         II. Facts

         An examination of the complaint and its exhibits, the amended complaint, defendants' local rule 56 statement, plaintiff's local rule 56 statement, exhibits accompanying the motion for summary judgment and responses thereto, discloses the following undisputed facts:

         Prior to his transfer to Cheshire, the plaintiff was incarcerated at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution ("MacDougall-Walker"), a high/maximum security level facility in Suffield, Connecticut. On November 9, 2011, Captain Beaudry, who was a member of the Intelligence Office at MacDougall-Walker, received two typed documents from an inmate indicating that another inmate was putting together a list of demands for the prison administrators to meet regarding conditions of confinement at MacDougall-Walker. Warden Murphy became aware that on November 9 and 10, 2011, the MacDougall-Walker Intelligence Office had received information from several sources that inmates in J Pod housing unit were attempting to recruit other inmates to become involved in concerted activities that would affect the operation of the facility. As part of the planned activities, inmates were going to stop: (1) working; (2) eating in the cafeteria; (3) buying items from the commissary; and (4) using the prison mail system. These activities were to commence on January 4, 2012.

         On November 11, 2011, prison officials placed J Pod housing unit on lockdown. On November 11, 12, 13, 2011, Captain Beaudry, Captain Manley and Lieutenant Paine, who were all members of the Intelligence Office, interviewed numerous inmates in the J Pod housing unit and several inmates in other housing units.

         On November 11, 2011, Captain Beaudry came to the plaintiff's cell and informed him that he and his cellmate were being investigated and would be placed on administrative detention pending the investigation. On November 14, 2011, Captain Beaudry, Captain Manley, and Lieutenant Paine interviewed the plaintiff. They informed him that they were investigating an inmate protest planned for January 4, 2012 and that the plaintiff's cellmate was a target of the investigation. The plaintiff informed them that he had no knowledge of his cellmate's involvement in the upcoming protest. The plaintiff was told that he would be able to return to his cell in the J Pod unit and to his job in the commissary once the investigation was over.

         Information gathered during the interviews of inmates from J Pod unit supported the possibility of a civil demonstration on January 4, 2012 to protest multiple issues regarding conditions of confinement at MacDougall-Walker. ...

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