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Torres v. McGrath

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 31, 2017

ROBERT MCGRATH, et al., Defendants.



         On October 26, 2015, the plaintiff, Candido Torres, commenced a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against several employees of the New Hampshire and Connecticut Departments of Correction in their individual and official capacities, alleging violations of his constitutional rights under the First, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment [No. 1]. He also raised claims of negligence against all defendants, and requested declaratory, injunctive and compensatory relief. Thereafter, this Court dismissed all of the plaintiff's claims except those alleging violations of his First and Eighth Amendment rights by defendant Jaclyn Osden (“Osden”), a Counselor Supervisor for the Connecticut Department of Correction, in her individual and official capacities [Nos. 9, 30]. Osden now moves to dismiss the plaintiff's remaining claims pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on grounds of qualified immunity and failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted [No. 29]. The plaintiff has not responded to Osden's motion.[1] For the reasons that follow, Osden's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Standard of Review

         Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the [plaintiff] is entitled to relief.” Although Rule 8 does not require “detailed factual allegations, ” it “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). A complaint that offers mere conclusory statements without factual support will not suffice to withstand dismissal. Id.

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. The plausibility standard is not a probability requirement; the complaint must show, not merely allege, that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Id. “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 679.

         When reviewing a motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all of the facts alleged in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678; Graziano v. Pataki, 689 F.3d 110, 114 (2d Cir. 2012). This principle does not, however, apply to the legal conclusions that the plaintiff draws in his complaint. Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678; Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 555. “While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, [the] court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 679.

         “Where . . . the complaint was filed pro se, it must be construed liberally with ‘special solicitude' and interpreted to raise the strongest claims that it suggests.” Hogan v. Fischer, 738 F.3d 509, 515 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Hill v. Curcione, 657 F.3d 116, 122 (2d Cir. 2011)). Nevertheless, a pro se plaintiff's complaint must state a plausible claim for relief. Id.

         II. Facts

         This Court articulated the following facts in its Initial Review Order [No. 9] on May 3, 2016:

The plaintiff asserts that Connecticut Department of Correction officials transferred him to the New Hampshire Department of Corrections to serve his sentence. The Plaintiff claims that during his confinement in Connecticut, he had renounced his membership in the Latin Kings gang. Upon being transferred to New Hampshire, the Plaintiff became inducted into the Neta prison gang.
In December 2014, the Plaintiff was incarcerated in the New Hampshire State Prison for Men in Concord, New Hampshire (“NH Concord”). In late December 2014, the Plaintiff became upset about not being permitted to speak Spanish freely, and engaged in an argument with correctional staff. Shortly after the argument, the warden transferred the Plaintiff to the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility in Berlin, New Hampshire (“NNH Berlin”). The Plaintiff claims that his girlfriend learned from New Hampshire Population Management and Classification Director Lacasse that Plaintiff had been transferred in retaliation for his complaints about staff refusing to permit him to freely speak Spanish. The Plaintiff later learned that Unit Manager McGrath was also responsible for the decision to transfer him to Berlin.
The Plaintiff married his girlfriend on January 15, 2015. His wife made him choose between her and his membership in a prison gang. Between February and May 2015, the Plaintiff and his wife wrote many letters to [Osden], who works in the Sentence Calculation and Interstate Management Office of the Connecticut Department of Correction. The Plaintiff informed [Osden] that he sought to renounce his membership in the Neta prison gang and that he and his wife were very concerned about potential reprisals by members of the prison gang after he renounced his membership in the gang. He made it clear that he feared for his safety.
On March 13, 2015, the Plaintiff was cut in the back of the head by an inmate who was part of a gang. Prison officials placed him in protective custody. Despite the Plaintiff's concerns about his safety, [Osden] informed him that due to the fact that the cut was superficial, he would not be transferred back to Connecticut.
On March 19, 2015, shortly after being transferred to general population, an inmate assaulted the Plaintiff in the bathroom. The Plaintiff immediately contacted prison staff, including Lieutenant McFarland. Prison staff did not report the incident. Prison officials, including Lieutenant McFarland, did not investigate the incident.
In April 2015, the Plaintiff pled guilty to a disciplinary ticket charging him with intoxication. He received multiple sanctions. [Osden] informed the Plaintiff that he would not be able to return to Connecticut due to a disciplinary infraction that he had received in August 2014. To be eligible to transfer back to Connecticut, prison ...

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