United States District Court, D. Connecticut
TONY P. DAVIS, Plaintiff,
CHAPDELAINE, et al., Defendants.
RULING ON MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
VANESSA L. BRYANT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
February 18, 2016, the plaintiff, Tony P. Davis, an inmate
currently incarcerated at MacDougall-Walker Correctional
Institution (“MacDougall-Walker”) and proceeding
pro se, filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against Warden Carol Chapdelaine, Captain
Butkiewicus, Captain Sharp, and Lieutenant Burgos, all of
whom are employees of the Connecticut Department of
Correction (“DOC”). He claimed that the
defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his safety,
in violation of his Eighth Amendment protection against cruel
and unusual punishment, when they placed him in a restrictive
housing cell with an inmate who immediately assaulted him,
despite knowing that the inmate had refused other cellmates
in the past.
2, 2016, this Court dismissed his complaint for failure to
state a plausible claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)
because the plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege that the
conditions of confinement at the restrictive housing unit
posed a serious risk of harm to him or that the defendants
knew that the inmate who assaulted him had violent tendencies
or a desire to assault him. See Initial Review Order
#10 at 3.
plaintiff filed an amended complaint on May 13, 2016
[Doc.#12], which contained more factual support for his
deliberate indifference claim. After reviewing this
complaint, the Court permitted the plaintiff's deliberate
indifference claim to proceed against the defendants. The
defendants answered the complaint on August 1,
February 22, 2017, the defendants moved for summary judgment
against the plaintiff [Doc.#55]. The plaintiff filed a
written opposition to the defendant's motion on March 27,
2017 [Doc.#63]. The plaintiff then filed his own motion for
summary judgment against the defendants [Doc.#64], to which
the defendants filed an opposition [Doc.#65]. Afterward, the
plaintiff filed a supplemental memorandum in support of his
motion for summary judgment [Doc.#68]. For the following
reasons, the Court will GRANT the defendants' motion and
DENY the plaintiff's motion.
Relevant Legal Principles
motion for summary judgment, the burden is on the moving
party to establish that there are no genuine issues of
material fact in dispute and that it is “entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A
fact is “material” if it “might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law” and is
“genuine” if “a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party” based on it.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986); see also Dister v. Continental Group, Inc.,
859 F.2d 1108, 1114 (2d Cir. 1988) (mere existence of alleged
factual dispute will not defeat summary judgment motion).
motion for summary judgment is supported by documentary
evidence and sworn affidavits and “demonstrates the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact, ” the
nonmoving party must do more than vaguely assert the
existence of some unspecified disputed material facts or
“rely on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated
speculation.” Robinson v. Concentra Health Servs.,
Inc., 781 F.3d 42, 44 (2d Cir. 2015) (citation omitted).
Thus, the party opposing the motion for summary judgment
“must come forward with specific evidence demonstrating
the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact.”
Id.; see also First Nat. Bank of Ariz. v. Cities
Service Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968) (nonmoving party
must submit sufficient evidence supporting claimed factual
dispute to require factfinder to resolve parties'
differing versions of truth at trial).
reviewing the record, the Court must “construe the
evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party
and to draw all reasonable inferences in its favor.”
Gary Friedrich Enters., L.L.C. v. Marvel Characters,
Inc., 716 F.3d 302, 312 (2d Cir. 2013) (citation
omitted). If there is any evidence in the record from which a
reasonable factual inference could be drawn in favor of the
opposing party for the issue on which summary judgment is
sought, however, summary judgment is improper. See
Security Ins. Co. of Hartford v. Old Dominion Freight Line
Inc., 391 F.3d 77, 83 (2d Cir. 2004).
one party is proceeding pro se, the Court must read
the pro se party's papers liberally and
interpret them “to raise the strongest arguments that
they suggest.” Willey v. Kirkpatrick, 801 F.3d
51, 62 (2d Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks and citation
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 v. Columbia
Univ., 224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000), cert.
denied, 540 U.S. 811 (2003).
following factual allegations are not in dispute.
April 1, 2015, Lieutenant Burgos escorted the plaintiff, who
was handcuffed, to a restrictive housing unit where he would
share a cell with another inmate named Talton. Before
escorting the plaintiff into the cell, Burgos ordered Talton,
who was not handcuffed, to sit on his bunk, and Talton
complied. Once Talton was seated, Burgos opened the cell door
and ordered the plaintiff to step inside while remaining
handcuffed. Per protocol, Burgos had to remove the
plaintiff's handcuffs through the trap on the cell door
after it closed behind the plaintiff. However, as the cell
door was closing, Talton stood up from his bed and rushed
toward the door where the plaintiff was standing. Talton
attempted to push his way toward the correction officers and,
in doing so, assaulted the plaintiff, who was still
handcuffed, by punching him in the chest. The correction
officers immediately rushed into the cell and separated
Talton from the plaintiff. They deployed a chemical agent to
Talton's face in an effort to subdue him. Def.'s Mot.
Summ. J. Ex. 1 [Doc.#55-2 at 15].
plaintiff was taken to a nearby empty cell, where medical
staff asked him if he had sustained any injuries from the
attack. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 1 [Doc.#55-2 at 7]. The
plaintiff informed medical staff that “he was fine,
” and the staff's assessment of his chest showed no
signs of raised, red or tender areas. Id. [Doc.#55-2