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Cooke v. Deschaine

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 28, 2017

IAN COOKE, Plaintiff,
v.
KEITH DESCHAINE, et al., Defendants.

          RULING ON PENDING MOTIONS

          Stefan R. Underhill United States District Judge.

         Ian Cooke, currently confined at Garner Correctional Institution, proceeds pro se in this civil rights action. On December 15, 2016, 1 dismissed in part the claims in the second amended complaint filed against a former Commissioner of Correction, the current Commissioner of Correction, two directors of the Department of Correction security division, five employees of Cheshire Correctional Institution and legal counsel for the Department of Correction. Pending before me is Cooke's motion for reconsideration of my ruling addressing the claims in the second amended complaint, a motion for leave to file a third amended complaint, a motion for clarification, a motion for sanctions and two motions for default judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the motion for reconsideration is granted, but the relief requested is denied; the motion for clarification is granted; and the motions for sanctions, to amend, and for default judgment are denied.

         I. Motion for Clarification [ECF No. 29]

         Cooke states that he received notification from the court that a waiver of service of summons had been sent to an individual named Jarvis Street. He seeks clarification whether Jarvis Street has been added or substituted as a defendant. The motion for clarification is granted. Jarvis Street is not a defendant named in the second amended complaint. Thus, it is evident that the Clerk inadvertently sent a waiver of service of summons to Jarvis Street. Jarvis Street is not a defendant in this action and he has not returned a waiver of service of summons or appeared.

         II. Motion for Reconsideration [ECF No. 28]

         On July 21, 2016, Cooke filed a second amended complaint pursuant 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986, naming former Commissioner of Correction Leo C. Arnone, Commissioner Scott Semple, former Director of Security Kim Weir, Director of Security Christine Whidden, Warden Jon Brighthaupt, Deputy Warden Lauren Powers, Counselor Supervisor Garcia, Lieutenant Hogan, Correctional Officer Keith Deschaine and Attorney Nancy Kase-O'Brasky as defendants. See Second Am. Compl., ECF No. 25. On December 15, 2016, 1 dismissed the section 1985 claims, the section 1986 claims, the section 1983 Fourteenth Amendment due process claims against defendants Deschaine, Hogan, Garcia, Powers, Brighthaupt and Semple, the section 1983 First Amendment retaliation claim against defendants Powers and Garcia, and all section 1983 claims against defendant and Kase-O'Brasky pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). See Initial Review Order, ECF No. 26. I concluded (1) that the section 1983 claims against Arnone remained in the case, but Commissioner Semple would be substituted for Arnone because he is the current Commissioner; (2) that the First Amendment free speech claims asserted pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 would proceed against defendants Deschaine, Hogan, Garcia, Powers and Brighthaupt in their individual capacities and against defendants Weir, Whidden, and Semple in their official capacities; and (3) that the state law negligence claim would proceed against defendants Deschaine and Hogan in their individual capacities. Cooke seeks reconsideration of all dismissed claims.

         Pursuant to Rule 7(c) of the Local Civil Rules of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, "[m]otions for reconsideration shall not be routinely filed and shall satisfy the strict standard applicable to such motions." 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 court's decision. Shrader v. CSX Tramp., Inc., 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, Inc. v. YLL Irrevocable Trust, 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 otherwise take "a second bite at the apple." Analytical Surveys, Inc. v. Tonga Partners, L.P., 684 F.3d 36, 52 (2d Cir. 2012) (citation omitted).

         Cooke first contends that I improperly dismissed his Fourteenth Amendment claim for deprivation of property without due process. In a later section of the motion for reconsideration, Cooke suggests that I did not address his procedural due process claim as it relates to the defendants' confiscation of his personal property items and their alleged failure to return the items to him or permit him to send the items home.

         I considered Cooke's allegations regarding the confiscation of his personal property items and the defendants' refusal to return the items as a claim that the defendants had deprived him of his property without providing him with procedural due process. Pursuant to the Supreme Court's holding in Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 533 (1984), an inmate's procedural due process rights are not violated when the inmate loses his or her personal belongings due to the negligent or intentional actions of correctional officers if the state provides an adequate post-deprivation compensatory remedy. In reviewing Cooke's allegations, I noted that, although he had filed a claim with the Department of Correction's Lost Property Board, he had not alleged that he had pursued his deprivation or confiscation of property claim through the Office of the Claims Commissioner. See Initial Review Order at 6, ECF No. 26. I dismissed the claim because Cooke had not alleged that the Department of Correction's procedures for processing property claims were inadequate. See Id. (citing Edwards v. Erfe, 588 F.App'x 79, 80-81 (2d Cir. 2015) (affirming dismissal of inmate's deprivation of property claim on the ground that the inmate had not alleged that process provided by the State of Connecticut, including the opportunity to seek relief through the Office of the Claims Commissioner, was inadequate)).

         Cooke questions whether the state law remedy provided by the Claims Commissioner is really adequate. Cooke suggests the remedy is inadequate because it does not provide for declaratory or injunctive relief. Cooke, however, does not seek injunctive or declaratory relief with regard to the confiscation/deprivation of his property.

         Cooke has not alleged that he has attempted to file or utilize the procedure available to file a claim under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 4-141 et seq. Thus, I conclude that Cooke has not pointed to any facts or decisions that I overlooked in reaching its conclusion that the state law remedy was adequate because he still has an avenue for relief through the Office of the Claims Commissioner. Rather, Cooke simply disagrees with my ruling. The motion for reconsideration is granted with regard to the Fourteenth Amendment due process claim, but the relief requested is denied.

         Cooke next argues that I erred in dismissing as time-barred the retaliation claim against Deputy Warden Powers and Counselor Supervisor Garcia. He contends that I should not have dismissed the retaliation claim because Cooke included a general retaliation claim in the first amended complaint. After reviewing the allegations in the first amended complaint, I concluded that it violated the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and 20, governing pleading and joinder, because it included claims regarding multiple, different incidents that had occurred at two different facilities over a three-year period. I directed Cooke to file a second amended complaint that raised only claims arising out of one factual incident at one facility. Cooke's retaliation claim in the second amended complaint is not the same as the retaliation claim he raised in his first amended complaint. In the first amended complaint, he included a retaliation claim related to his removal from protective custody by defendants Powers and Garcia in early May 2013. In the second amended complaint, he alleged a claim of retaliation regarding his transfer to another prison facility in late May 2013. This retaliatory transfer claim against defendants Powers and Garcia was a new claim that was not included in the first amended complaint.

         Because the transfer occurred in May 2013, and the second amended complaint was filed in July 2016, the claim was barred by the three-year statute of limitations. See Initial Review Order at 7, ECF No. 26. Cooke has pointed to no facts that I overlooked in dismissing the retaliation claim against defendants Powers and Garcia for failure to file within the applicable statute of limitations. The motion for reconsideration is granted with regard to the dismissal of the retaliatory transfer claim, but the relief requested is denied.

         Cooke also contends that I erred in dismissing the claims against Attorney Kase-O'Brasky. He suggests that the allegations in the second amended complaint should be construed as a claim that Attorney Kase-O'Brasky has been involved in or has ratified the ongoing application of Administrative Directive 10.7 by Department of Correction officials. Cooke specifically asserted claims against Attorney Kase-O-Brasky in her official capacity. He alleged that she assisted former Commissioner Arnone in researching and drafting the revisions to Administrative Directive 10.7 in June 2012. Because there were no facts in the second amended complaint from which it could be inferred that Attorney Kase-O'Brasky was involved in the implementation or enforcement of the revised Administrative Directive, I dismissed the claims for declaratory and injunctive relief against her. See Id. at 8 (citing Ex Parte Young,209 U.S. 123, 157 (1908) ("In making an officer of the State a party defendant in a suit to enjoin the enforcement of an act alleged to be unconstitutional, it is plain that such officer must have some connection with the enforcement of the act. . . ."); Sabin v. Nelson, 2014 WL ...


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