United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
A. Bolden United States District Judge.
Lloyd George Morgan, is currently incarcerated at Garner
Correctional Institution, in Newtown, Connecticut
(“Garner”). He initiated this action by filing a
Complaint alleging various claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(“Section 1983”) and Title II of the Americans
with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). His Complaint, ECF
No.1, named twenty-one officials or officers employed by the
State of Connecticut Department of Correction as Defendants.
Initial Review Order dated November 21, 2014, the Court
dismissed Morgan's Section 1983 claims alleging
violations of the Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment, as
well as the ADA claims against all Defendants and the prison
transfer claims against Defendants Semple and Lewis under 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). See Initial Review Order
at 12, ECF No. 11. The Court also dismissed the claims for
monetary damages against all Defendants in their official
capacities under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(2). See
Id. The Court concluded that the Eighth Amendment claims
of failure to protect and deliberate indifference to safety,
the First Amendment retaliation claims and the state law
claims of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional
distress would proceed against Defendants Commissioner James
E. Dzurenda; Deputy Commissioner Scott S. Semple; District
Administrator Angel Quiros; Director of Offender
Classification Karl Lewis; Wardens Carol Chapdelaine, Edward
Maldonado and Christine M. Whidden; Deputy Wardens Gary
Wright and Sandra Barone; Captains McCormick and K. Godding;
Unit Managers Manning and Jean Ott; Lieutenant Lizon; and
Correctional Officers Maldonado, Lindsey, Clayton, Torres,
Gonzalez, Leiper and Ulm in their individual capacities, and
in their official capacities, but only to the extent that Mr.
Morgan sought declaratory and injunctive relief. See
September 29, 2015, the Court denied in part and granted in
part the Defendants' motion to dismiss. ECF No. 53. The
following claims remain pending against the Defendants in
their individual capacities: (1) the January 2014 failure to
protect claim against Defendants Godding, Chapdelaine,
McCormick, Lindsey and Maldonado; (2) the claim that
Defendants Gonzalez, Torres, Ulm, Leiper and Clayton were
deliberately indifferent to Mr. Morgan's safety when they
called him a snitch in front of other inmates; (3) the claim
that Defendants Lizon, Wright, Maldonado, Manning, Ott,
Barone, Dzurenda, Semple, Lewis and Quiros were deliberately
indifferent to Mr. Morgan's safety because they failed to
take any action to protect Mr. Morgan from potential harm
when they learned of the conduct of defendants Gonzalez,
Torres, Ulm, Leiper and Clayton; (4) the specific claims of
retaliation against Defendants Whidden and Warden Maldonado;
and (5) the state law claim for intentional infliction of
emotional distress. See Motion to Dismiss Order at
22, ECF No. 53.
before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary
judgment as to all of Morgan's claims. ECF No. 82. For
the reasons set forth below, the motion is
GRANTED in part and DENIED
in part. Specifically, the motion is GRANTED
as to the Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to safety
claims against Gonzalez, Torres, Ulm, Leiper, Clayton, Lizon,
Wright, Maldonado, Manning, Ott, Barone, Dzurenda, Semple,
Lewis, and Quiros, in relation to comments from Gonzalez,
Torres, Ulm, Leiper, and Clayton indicating that Morgan was a
snitch in front of other inmates; the Eighth Amendment
failure to protect claim against McCormick centering on the
assault by Rodriguez on Morgan; and the First Amendment
retaliation claims against Whidden and Maldonado. The motion
is DENIED as to the Eighth Amendment failure
to protect claim against Chapdelaine, Godding, Maldonado and
Lindsey arising from the assault by Rodriguez on Morgan and
as to the intentional infliction of emotional distress
Standard of Review
Court will grant a motion for summary judgment if it
determines that there is no genuine dispute of material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party bears the burden of
showing that no genuine dispute of material fact exists.
Carlton v. Mystic Transp., Inc., 202 F.3d 129, 133
(2d Cir. 2000). “A dispute regarding a material fact is
genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Williams
v. Utica Coll. Of Syracuse Univ., 453 F.3d 112, 116 (2d
Cir. 2006) (quoting Stuart v. Am. Cyanamic Co., 158
F.3d 622, 626 (2d Cir. 1998). The substantive law governing
the case identifies which facts are material, and “only
disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of
summary judgment.” Boubolis v. Transp. Workers
Union of Am., 442 F.3d 55, 59 (2d Cir. 2006) (citing
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
summary judgment, the Court's task is “carefully
limited to discerning whether there are any genuine issues of
material fact to be tried, not to deciding them.”
Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., Ltd.
P'ship, 22 F.3d 1219, 1224 (2d Cir. 1994). When
reviewing the record on a motion for summary judgment, the
Court must “assess the record in the light most
favorable to the non-movant” and “draw all
reasonable inferences in its favor.” Weinstock v.
Columbia Univ., 224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000).
Inferences drawn in favor of the nonmovant must, however, be
supported by evidence, and the “mere existence of a
scintilla of evidence in support of the [nonmovant's]
position” is insufficient to defeat summary judgment.
Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 252. Conclusory
allegations, conjecture, and speculation are insufficient to
create genuine issues of material fact. Kerzer v. Kingly
Mfg., 156 F.3d 396, 400 (2d Cir. 1998) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
one party is proceeding pro se, the Court must read
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,
“[u]nsupported allegations do not create a material
issue of fact” and cannot overcome a properly supported
motion for summary judgment. See Weinstock, 224 F.3d
2013, the Department of Correction (“DOC) housed Morgan
at the Carl Robinson Correctional Institution
(“Robinson”), until he was transferred to Osborn
Correctional (“Osborn”) from Robinson on November
8, 2013. Morgan Aff. ¶ 3, ECF No. 100-1; Maiga Aff.
¶ 24, ECF No. 82-5. Before he was housed at Robinson in
2013, Morgan had been housed at Osborn. Morgan Aff. ¶ 4.
November 8, 2013 Transfer
housed at Robinson in 2013, Morgan testifies that he filed
“numerous complaints regarding threats to my safety
made by multiple inmates who were gang members.” Morgan
Aff. ¶ 4. Morgan also wrote to Whidden about these
threats and the fear for his safety, and indicated that he
had also “experienced threats to [his] person by gang
members” while he was housed at Osborn before being
housed at Robinson. Id. ¶ 5. Morgan therefore
requested placement in protective custody and had a
protective custody application completed and submitted.
Id. ¶ 6.
correctional official conducted an investigation into
Morgan's allegations in support of his request for
protective custody. During an interview with the
investigator, Morgan identified three inmates who had
threatened to harm him. The investigator also interviewed one
of the inmates who had allegedly threatened Morgan.
November 4, 2013, the investigator recommended that the
request for protective custody status for Morgan be denied
because there was a lack of evidence to support a valid
threat to Morgan's safety and because there was a
reasonable housing alternative in general population. The
investigator noted that Morgan could not be managed in a
dormitory setting, but recommended that Morgan be housed in a
celled facility in a single cell in general population.
November 5, 2013, Whidden concurred with the recommendations
of the investigator and denied the request for protective
custody. She agreed that a transfer to another facility that
did not have dormitory-style housing would be sufficient to
meet the safety and other concerns of Mr. Morgan. Later that
day, Quiros concurred with Whidden's recommendation.
November 7, 2013, Lewis approved the recommendations of
Whidden to deny Morgan's request to be placed in
protective custody and to transfer Morgan to a celled
facility. Lewis also ordered that formal separation profiles
be established between Mr. Morgan and the three inmates who
had threatened him.
November 8, 2013, officials at Robinson transferred Morgan to
Osborn Correctional Institution (“Osborn”).
Inmate Gabriel Rodriguez was confined at Osborn in housing
Unit B, the same unit as Morgan. This was the first time that
Rodriguez and Morgan had been confined together in the same
facility under DOC custody. Unit B had not been designated as
a unit for gang members.
Morgan's Complaints at Osborn
November 13, 2013, Mr. Morgan completed and submitted an
Inmate Request Form addressed to Godding. On December 2,
2013, Mr. Morgan completed and submitted an Inmate Request
Form addressed Chapdelaine. On December 18, 2013, Mr. Morgan
completed and submitted an Inmate Request Form addressed to
point in 2009, McCormick began to work at Osborn. On December
10, 2013, DOC re-assigned Captain McCormick to the District
One Office. His duties and responsibilities at Osborn ended
when he left Osborn for the District One Office. McCormick
does not, therefore, remember receiving the Inmate Request
Form dated December 18, 2013 that Morgan addressed to him.
McCormick was unaware of any problems between Morgan and
Rodriguez and had no reason to believe that Morgan was in
January 3, 2014, DOC re-assigned Chapdelaine to become the
Warden of MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution
(“MacDougall”). Warden Chapdelaine's
reassignment to MacDougall terminated her responsibilities at
Osborn. She was no, therefore, aware of or involved in the
incident that occurred on January 5, 2014 between Morgan and
Rodriguez at Osborn.
January 3, 2014, DOC assigned Maldonado to take over as
Warden of Osborn. Morgan did not express any concerns for his
safety or problems with Rodriguez to Maldonado before the
incident on January 5, 2014.
January 5, 2014 Incident with Rodriguez
January 5, 2014, Morgan informed Lindsey and Maldonado that
Rodriguez had threatened him and that he feared for his
safety. Morgan Aff. ¶ 22. Lindsey and Maldonado did not
take any action in response. Id.
later, Rodriguez assaulted Morgan in the B-block shower at
Osborn, “beating [Morgan] about [his] head and choking
[him].” Morgan Aff. ¶ 23. Morgan testifies that,
during the assault, Rodriguez informed him that it was
“for being a snitch and a homo.” Id.
¶ 25. Morgan testifies that this assault resulted in
bruises to his head, face, and sides of his body, as well as
emotional distress. Id. ¶ 24.
the assault by Rodriguez, Morgan was placed in segregation,
in the Restrictive Hoousing Unit from January 5, 2014 through
sometime in February 2014. Morgan Aff. ¶ 26. On February
18, 2014, Lizon transferred Morgan from the restrictive
housing unit to Cell 24 in Unit F in general population
Following the assault, Morgan again requested placement in
protective custody. Morgan Aff. ¶ 27. Morgan testifies
that Long submitted the protective custody package and that
both Long and Lizon recommended that it be approved.
Id. On January 21, 2014, Long submitted the request
for protective custody placement on Morgan's behalf. On
January 29, 2014, Morgan learned that Maldonado had denied
his request to be placed on protective custody. Morgan
appealed the denial of the request. On March 17, 2014, Semple
denied the appeal.
the assault, Rodriguez was also placed in the restrictive
housing unit. He was issued a disciplinary report for
assault. Rodriguez pleaded guilty to the disciplinary charge.
Since the January 5, 2014 incident, Morgan and Rodriguez have
remained separated. Maiga Aff. ¶ 42. Rodriguez was moved
from Osborn on February 2014. Id. ¶ 49. Morgan
and Rodriguez have not been housed at the same facility since
Rodriguez's February 2014 move. Id.
assert three arguments in support of their motion for summary
judgment on all of Morgan's claims. Defendants argue that
that: (1) the facts do not, as a matter of law, support
Morgan's failure to protect, deliberate indifference to
safety, or retaliation claims; (2) the facts do not
demonstrate the personal involvement of Dzurenda, Semple,
Quiros, Lewis, Maldonado, Wright, Barone, Manning, Ott, and
Lizon in any deliberate indifference to Morgan's safety;
and (3) that Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity.
See Def.'s Br. at 5-26, ECF No. 82-1.
Eight Amendment Claims
frames some of his Eighth Amendment claims as failure to
protect clams and the others as deliberate indifference to
safety claims. With respect to both types of claim, the
threats to his safety that Morgan identified and that he
alleges the Defendants failed to protect him from all came
from other inmates. As discussed below, the standard for
these claims is the same.
Eighth Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual
punishments.” U.S. Const. Amend. VIII. Under the Eighth
Amendment, prison conditions must, therefore, provide inmates
with “the minimal civilized measures of life's
necessities.” Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294,
298 (1991). Prisons must provide inmates with their
“basic human needs - e.g., food, clothing,
shelter, medical care, and reasonable safety, ” and a
failure to do so violates the Eighth Amendment. DeShaney
v. Winnebago Cty. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 489 U.S.
189, 200 (1989). Accordingly, “prison officials have a
duty to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other
prisoners.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
833 (1994) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also
Fischl v. Armitage, 128 F.3d 50, 55 (2d Cir. 1997)
(“The Eighth Amendment . . . imposes on prison
officials a duty to protect prisoners from violence at the
hands of other prisoners.” (internal quotation marks
establish an Eighth Amendment violation for either failure to
protect or deliberate indifference to safety, an incarcerated
plaintiff must show first, “that he is incarcerated
under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm,
” and second, that the prison official had a
“sufficiently culpable state of mind, ” which in
“prison-conditions cases” is “one of
deliberate indifference to inmate health or safety.”
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834 (internal quotation marks
omitted); see also Lewis v. Swicki, 629 Fed.Appx.
77, 79 (2d Cir. 2015) (citing Hayes v. N.Y.C. Dep't
of Corr., 84 F.3d 614, 620 (2d Cir. 1996)). To show
deliberate indifference, the plaintiff must show that
“the official kn[ew] of and disregard[ed] an excessive
risk to inmate health or safety, ” which means that the
official must “both be aware of facts from which the
inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious
harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.”
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. Thus, the “deliberate
indifference standard embodies both an objective and a
subjective prong.” Hathaway v. Coughlin, 37
F.3d 63, 66 (2d Cir. 1994); see also Bridgewater v.
Taylor, 698 F.Supp.2d 351, 357 (S.D.N.Y. 2010)
(explaining that defendants must be aware of facts supporting
an inference that harm would occur and must actually draw