United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
R. UNDERHILL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
October 26, 2016, Jerome Riddick, incarcerated and pro
se, filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
seeking compensatory and punitive damages against Department
of Correction ("DOC") Commissioner Scott Semple,
District Administrator Angel Quiros, Warden Henry Falcone,
Warden Scott Erfe, Warden Edward Maldonado, and Warden
William Mulligan in their individual and official capacities.
Riddick argues that the defendants retaliated against him
after he filed two lawsuits against DOC employees, in
violation of his First Amendment right to free speech. On
October 28, 2016, 1 issued an order staying this case
pursuant to the parties' agreement to pursue good faith
settlement efforts. See Order #7. On January 12,
2017, Riddick moved to vacate my previous order staying the
case and for an Initial Review Order to be issued.
See Mot. to Expedite Initial Review Order, Doc. #10.
Upon further review, I grant Riddick's motion to vacate
the stay. For reasons that follow, the complaint is
Complaint [ECF No. 1]
section 1915 A of Title 28 of the United States Code, I must
review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any portion of
the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, that fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A Although detailed allegations
are not required, the complaint must include sufficient facts
to afford the defendants fair notice of the claims and the
grounds upon which they are based and to demonstrate a right
to relief. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555-56 (2007). Conclusory allegations are not sufficient.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The
plaintiff must plead "enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570. Nevertheless, it is well-established that
"\p]ro se complaints 'must be construed
liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments
that they suggest.'" Sykes v. Bank of Am.,
723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Triestman v.
Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir.
2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90,
101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude
for pro se litigants).
complaint alleges that, on February 24, 2015, Falcone and
Quiros transferred him from Garner Correctional Institution
("Garner") to administrative segregation at
Cheshire Correctional Institution ("Cheshire").
Pursuant to a settlement agreement reached between the
parties in another case, Falcone and Quiros agreed to
transfer Riddick back to Garner after serving forty-five days
in the administrative segregation unit at Cheshire. During
his time at Cheshire, Riddick filed two lawsuits against
several DOC employees, including Semple, Quiros, Falcone, and
Erfe, "raising multiple civil rights claims and
discrimination claims . . . ." When the agreed-upon
forty-five day term ended, the defendants refused to transfer
Riddick back to Garner. In a letter sent to Riddick's
attorney, the Connecticut Attorney General's Office,
counsel for the defendants, wrote the following:
At this point, my clients believe he belongs at Cheshire and
should complete his [administrative segregation] programming.
I understand he has indicated to you that he is willing to
abandon his motion to enforce the settlement agreement, but
his resistance to mental health care and his renewed interest
in litigation puts us in a box. If you take a look at his
complaint in the federal suit against Garner, 3:14CV322 (SRU)
you will see that he is challenging the very placement in
[administrative segregation] at Garner that we agreed to,
claiming now that he is Muslim and unconstitutionally
constrained from practicing his religion among other
restrictions that are unacceptable to him. Similar claims are
raised in his case against Cheshire, along with ADA and other
8th amendment claims. See docket no. 3:15CV528 (SRU). In
fact the latter case raises just about every claim an inmate
could bring against his jailers. So in this context of
expanded and endless litigation, I see no point in returning
him to [Garner] absent some clinical basis for doing so.
Pl's Ex. H (emphasis added). In response to Riddick's
filing of these other two lawsuits, "the defendants
refused to transfer [Riddick] back to Garner, but instead
kept him in solitary confinement" at Cheshire.
Official Capacity Claims for Money Damages
seeks monetary damages against all defendants in their
individuals and official capacities. To the extent that
Riddick seeks damages from the defendants in their official
capacities, the claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment.
See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159 (1985);
Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 342 (1979). All such
claims are dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
First Amendment Claim against Defendants in their Individual
claims that all six defendants, Semple, Quiros, Falcone,
Erfe, Maldonado, and Mulligan, retaliated against him for
exercising his First Amendment rights by refusing to transfer
him back to Garner after he filed lawsuits against DOC
employees. To establish a First Amendment retaliation claim,
Riddick must show "(1) that the speech or conduct at
issue was protected, (2) that the defendant took adverse
action against the plaintiff, and (3) that there was a causal
connection between the protected speech and the adverse
action." Espinal v. Goord, 558 F.3d 119, 128
(2d Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). Riddick
"bears the burden of showing that the protected conduct
was a substantial or motivating factor in the prison
officials' disciplinary decision." Holland v.
Goord, 758 F.3d 215, 225 (2d Cir. 2014) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
is well settled . . . that personal involvement of defendants
in alleged constitutional deprivations is a prerequisite to
an award of damages under § 1983." Wright v.
Smith, 21 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir. 1994) (internal
quotation marks omitted); see also Johnson v. Click,
481 F.2d 1028, 1034 (2d Cir. 1973) (doctrine of
respondeat superior does not suffice for claim of
monetary damages under section 1983). A plaintiff who sues a
supervisory official for monetary damages must allege that
the official was "personally involved" in the
constitutional deprivation in one of four ways: (1) the
official directly participated in the deprivation; (2) the
official learned about the deprivation through a report or
appeal and failed to remedy the wrong; (3) the official
created or perpetuated a policy or custom under which
unconstitutional practices occurred; (4) the official was
grossly negligent in managing subordinates who caused the
unlawful condition or event; or (5) the official failed to
act on information indicating that unconstitutional acts were
occurring. Wright, 21 F.3d at 501; Hernandez v.
Keane, 341 F.3d 137, 145 (2d Cir. 2003).
his complaint liberally, I cannot determine how, if at all,
each named defendant was personally involved in the decision
to keep Riddick confined at Cheshire as a result of the
lawsuits. Riddick has attached, as exhibits, several e-mails
and correspondences between the Connecticut Attorney
General's Office and Riddick's attorney. As shown
above, one of those correspondences clearly shows a decision
not to transfer Riddick back to Garner in accordance with the
settlement agreement. It does not, however, show which DOC
employees made the decision reflected in that correspondence.
In fact, none of the defendants in this case is named in any
of the exhibits attached to the complaint.
each named defendant in this case works in a supervisory
capacity for DOC, that fact alone is insufficient to show
personal involvement in the alleged constitutional
deprivation. See Johnson v. Glick, 481 F.2d at 1034
(doctrine of respondeat superior does not suffice
for claim of monetary damages under section 1983). Moreover,
the allegation that Falcone and Quiros were responsible for
transferring Riddick from Garner to Cheshire on February 24,
2015, does not indicate whether they were responsible for
keeping Riddick confined at Cheshire following the filing of
the lawsuits. Without any information about which employees
were being represented by the Attorney General's Office
in its correspondence with Riddick's attorney or how each
defendant was personally involved in the ...