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Brown v. Semple

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 30, 2017

KENYA BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT SEMPLE, et al., Defendants.

          RULING ON PENDING MOTIONS

          Stefan R. Underhill United States District Judge

         The plaintiff, Kenya Brown, is incarcerated at the Cheshire Correctional Institution in Cheshire, Connecticut. He has filed a civil rights complaint against Commissioner Scott Semple, Director of Mental Health Dr. Robert Trestman, Dr. Henry Crabbe, Dr. Gerald Gagne, Jr., Warden Santiago, Deputy Warden Robert Martin, Deputy Warden Jeffrey Zegarzewski, Captain James Shabanes, Correctional Officer Aponte, Health Services Administrator Ron Labonte, and Administrative Remedy Coordinator Kimberly Daly. In connection with that complaint, Brown has filed a large number of motions, including a motion for reconsideration of my Initial Review Order addressing the complaint; a motion for extension of time to file an amended complaint; two motions for order to show cause; two motions to compel; a motion to vacate objection; a motion to strike objection; a motion for order; a motion to modify scheduling order; a motion for default; and a motion for sanctions. In addition, the defendants have filed a motion for extension of time to respond to discovery; three motions for extension of time to respond to the amended complaint; and two motions to withdraw admissions.

         For the reasons set forth below, I grant Brown's motion for reconsideration, Doc. No. 20, but deny his requested relief. I grant Brown's motion to modify scheduling order, Doc. No. 53, and grant in part and deny in part his first motion for order to show cause, Doc. No. 24. I also grant nunc pro tunc the defendants' motion for extension of time to respond to discovery, Doc. No. 46, grant absent objection their first motion to withdraw admissions, Doc. No. 47, and grant their third motion for extension of time to respond to discovery, Doc. No. 74.

         I deny as moot Brown's motion for extension of time to amend the pleadings, Doc. No. 23. I deny without prejudice Brown's first motion to compel, Doc. No. 44, and his motion for default, Doc. No. 58. I deny Brown's second motion for order to show cause, Doc. No. 29, his second motion to compel, Doc. No. 50, and his motion for sanctions, Doc. No. 63. I deny for lack of good cause shown Brown's motion to vacate objection, Doc. No. 49, and motion to strike objection, Doc. No. 62. I also deny without prejudice as premature the defendants' motions for extension of time to respond to the amended complaint, Docs. Nos. 37, 51, & 71, and deny as moot their second motion to withdraw admissions, Doc. No. 67.

         I. Motion for Reconsideration [Doc. No. 20]

         Brown initiated this action by filing a complaint against Commissioner Semple, Director of Mental Health Trestman, Dr. Crabbe, Dr. Gagne, Warden Santiago, Deputy Wardens Martin and Zegarzewski, Captain Shabenas, Correctional Officer Aponte, Health Services Administrator LaBonte and Administrative Remedy Coordinator Daly. He asserted claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983 and 1988 and the Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill. Individuals Act of 1986 (“PAIMI”), codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 10801-10805.

         On August 16, 2016, I dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) the claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1988 and PAIMII, all claims against Grievance Administrator Daly, and the property claim against Officer Aponte. I also dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(2) the claims for monetary damages against Commissioner Semple and Director Trestman. I allowed to proceed Brown's First Amendment retaliation claims, his Eighth Amendment claims for deliberate indifference to safety, health and mental health needs, his Equal Protection claim, and his claim of conspiracy to violate his constitutional rights.

         Brown now seeks reconsideration of the dismissal of his property claim against Aponte and his redress of grievances claim against Grievance Administrator Daly. The standard governing motions for reconsideration is strict. Generally, reconsideration will be granted only if the moving party can identify “controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked” and that would reasonably be expected to alter the decision. Shrader v. CSX Transp., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995). A party's identification of “an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice” may also constitute sufficient reasons to grant a motion for reconsideration. Kolel Beth Yechiel Mechil of Tartikov v. YLL Irrevocable Tr., 729 F.3d 99, 104 (2d Cir. 2013) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). A party may not, however, use a motion for reconsideration to re-argue prior issues that have already been decided, present “new theories” or arguments that could have been raised earlier, seek a new hearing “on the merits, or [to] otherwise tak[e] a second bite at the apple.” Analytical Surveys v. Tonga Partners, 684 F.3d 36, 52 (2d Cir. 2012).

         Brown states that at the time I issued the Initial Review Order, he was in the process of drafting an amended complaint to clarify and expand on his claims against Grievance Administrator Daly and Officer Aponte. With regard to the claim against Officer Aponte, Brown does not assert how the dismissal of the property claim was improper. Rather, he simply states that he intends to include new facts regarding the property claim in the amended complaint.

         I conclude that Brown has not identified any facts that I overlooked in dismissing the property claim against Aponte. Thus, I grant Brown's motion for reconsideration and have conducted a careful review of his arguments, but I deny Brown's requested relief and affirm my ruling dismissing the property claim against Aponte.

         With regard to Grievance Administrator Daly, Brown contends that I misunderstood his claim against her. In his supplemental memorandum in support of his motion for reconsideration, Brown elaborates on and explains his claim against Grievance Administrator Daly in more detail. In the Initial Review Order addressing the allegations in the complaint, I described Brown's claims against Grievance Administrator Daly as follows:

Brown states that prior to his transfer to Cheshire, he spoke to officials at Corrigan about his objections to the transfer and also filed written grievances with Grievance Administrator Daly. She returned the grievances because he had not attached evidence that he had submitted informal requests to prison officials regarding his objections to the transfer. She directed Brown to submit informal requests and then to re-file his grievances. Brown contends that he attempted to resolve his issues verbally but was unsuccessful. Brown states that Administrator Daly violated his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights because she made it difficult or impossible for him to exhaust his administrative remedies because she either did not respond to his grievances or returned them as deficient in some way.

Initial Review Order, Doc. No. 17 at 7-8. I concluded that Brown was challenging Grievance Administrator Daly's conduct as violative of the Department of Correction's grievance procedures, and noted that violations of such procedures did not rise to the level of a constitutional violation of Brown's due process rights. See Id. at 8 (citing Shell v. Brzesniak, 365 F.Supp.2d 362, 370 (W.D.N.Y. 2005) (“Inmate grievance programs created by state law are not required by the Constitution and consequently allegations that prison officials violated those procedures does not give rise to a cognizable § 1983 claim.”)). I further observed that, although Grievance Administrator Daly had returned the initial grievances that Brown had filed, Brown stated that he filed four new grievances and received receipts for those grievances from District 125 in June 2016. See Id. I concluded that Grievance Administrator Daly's alleged failure to process Brown's grievances had not precluded him from pursuing his claims regarding his improper transfer to Cheshire in this action. See id.

         Brown contends that I mis-characterized the receipts that he received from Grievance Administrator Daly in June 2016. I disagree. A review of the allegations in the complaint reflects that I accurately related the facts pertaining to Grievance Administrator Daly in the Initial Review Order. See Compl., Doc. No. 1, at 19-21.

         Brown's description of his claims against Daly have not changed. He asserts that Daly intentionally refused to process or consider the grievances that he filed on two occasions in accordance with Department of Correction Administrative Directives and that he had in fact attempted informal resolution prior to filing the grievances, or that he should have been excused from doing so given the short time frame that existed before he was to be transferred. Accordingly, Brown asserts that Daly improperly processed his grievances in violation of the Department of Correction Administrative Directives and his due process rights. Such a claim is not cognizable in a section 1983 action.

         I conclude that Brown has not identified any facts that I overlooked in dismissing his due process claim against Daly. Thus, I grant Brown's motion for reconsideration and have conducted a careful review of his arguments, but I deny Brown's requested relief and affirm my ruling dismissing the claims against Daly.

         II. Motion for Extension of Time to Amend Pleadings [Doc. No. 23]

         Brown seeks an extension of time to file an amended complaint until after I rule on his motion for reconsideration. Because Brown already filed a motion for leave to amend on October 24, 2016, I deny the motion as moot.

         III. Motions for Extension of Time [Docs. Nos. 37, 51, & 71]

         The defendants seek extensions of time to respond to the amended complaint. Because I have not yet ruled on Brown's motion for leave to file an amended complaint, I deny without prejudice as premature the defendants' motions for extension of time to respond to the amended complaint. After ruling on the motion to amend and addressing the allegations in the amended complaint, I will issue an order directing the defendants to respond to the amended complaint.

         IV. Motion for ...


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