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Gonzalez-Torres v. Newson

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 31, 2017

JOHN F. NEWSON, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Pedro Gonzalez-Torres (“Gonzalez-Torres”), currently confined at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut, filed this case pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. Gonzalez-Torres names as defendants Judge John F. Newson; State Trooper Chivvers; Supervisor Conto; the City of Norwich; State Trooper Gardner; the Department of Transportation; the Department of Public Safety; State Trooper Dale B. Degaetano; State Trooper Browning; Sergeant Benedict A. Liberatore; Norwich City Hall; State Police Troop E; Griswold City Hall; Jewett City City Hall; and Montville City Hall. Gonzalez-Torres seeks damages, medical care and an order directing State Police Troop E to pay for the medical care.

         The complaint was filed on March 21, 2017. Gonzalez-Torres' motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on March 28, 2017. I now dismiss the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).

         I. Standard of Review

         Under section 1915A 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 plausible right to relief. Bell Atl. Corp. 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).

         II. Gonzalez-Torres's Allegations

         On August 28, 2015, Gonzalez-Torres was arrested by troopers from State Police Troop E. During the arrest, he began experiencing “faint back pain.” Doc. No. 1, ¶ 2. On August 29, 2015, Trooper Gardner signed a temporary surrender statement indicating that Gonzalez-Torres would be held at Corrigan Correctional Institution until his arraignment on August 31, 2015. The temporary surrender statement included the following language: “The Department of Public Safety assumes all responsibility for medical treatment and any expenses incurred prior to arraignment.” Doc. No. 1, Ex. B.

         On August 31, 2015, Gonzalez-Torres was taken from Corrigan Correctional Institution to Norwich Superior Court for arraignment. State Judicial Marshals improperly placed him in the state transport vehicle so that he was sitting on top of a seat buckle. This caused him pain.

         In July 2016, Gonzalez-Torres complained of severe back pain that was exacerbated by sitting on the buckle a year earlier. He stated that Flexeril was the only medication that relieved his pain and acknowledged that he would soon go to the University of Connecticut Health Center for treatment. A nurse referred the matter to a doctor for a chart review. Doc. No. 1, Ex. C.

         III. Analysis

         As an initial matter, I note that Gonzalez-Torres has included as defendants the Connecticut Department of Transportation, the Connecticut Department of Public Safety and State Police Troop E. Section 1983 requires that each defendant be a person acting under color of state law. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Every person who, under color of any statute, ordnance, regulation, custom or usage, of any State . . . subjects or causes to be subjected . . . .”). Neither a state agency nor its subdivision is a person within the meaning of section 1983. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (state agencies cannot be sued under section 1983). Because none of those entities is a proper defendant, all claims against the Department of Transportation, the Department of Public Safety and Troop E are dismissed.

         Gonzalez-Torres also names the Norwich City Hall, the Griswold City Hall, the Jewett City City Hall and the Montville City Hall as defendants. If, by these designations, Gonzalez-Torres intends to name all municipal officials of Norwich, Griswold, Jewett City and Montville, he has alleged no facts suggesting that any municipal official was involved in the incidents underlying this action. Accordingly, all claims against the Norwich City Hall, the Griswold City Hall, the Jewett City City Hall, the Montville City Hall and the City of Norwich are dismissed as lacking any factual basis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) (directing court to dismiss claims that lack legal or factual basis).

         The remaining defendants are six state police troopers and a state court judge. Gonzalez-Torres alleges no facts against Judge Newson or troopers Chivvers, Conto, Degaetano, Browning and Liberatore. The claims against these defendants are dismissed as lacking any factual basis.

         The only defendant specifically referenced in the complaint is Trooper Gardner, who signed the temporary surrender statement when Gonzalez-Torres was held at Corrigan Correctional Institution prior to his arraignment. Gonzalez-Torres contends that defendant Gardner was personally responsible for his medical care prior to arraignment because the temporary surrender statement included language indicating that the Department of Public Safety assumed responsibility for medical care provided prior to arraignment. There is no factual basis for this ...

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