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Style v. McGuire

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

September 1, 2017

LENWORTH STYLE, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES MCGUIRE, ET AL., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          STEFAN R. UNDERHILL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The plaintiff, Lenworth Style, is incarcerated at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York. He has filed a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Hartford Correctional Center Officers Brown, Dastasi, and Doe, and Warden Faneuff, and pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) (“Bivens”), against Assistant Federal Public Defender James Maguire and the U.S. Marshals.

         To state a claim under section 1983, the plaintiff must allege facts showing that the defendant, a person acting under color of state law, deprived him of a federally protected right. See Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 930 (1982). In Bivens, the Supreme Court held that federal officials may be sued for damages in their individual capacities for violations of a person's constitutional rights. Thus, a Bivens action is the nonstatutory federal counterpart of a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Ellis v. Blum, 643 F.2d 68, 84 (2d Cir. 1981). My analysis of Bivens claims therefore parallels the analysis used to evaluate state prisoners' section 1983 claims. See Tavarez v. Reno, 54 F.3d 109, 110 (2d Cir. 1995) (“Because the two actions share the same ‘practicalities of litigation', federal courts have typically incorporated § 1983 law into Bivens actions.” (quoting Burnett v. Grattan, 468 U.S. 42, 50 (1984)). To state a claim under Bivens, a claimant must show (1) a deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States; and (2) that the deprivation of the right was caused by an official acting under color of federal law. See id.

         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, malicious, or 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 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).

         On October 18, 2016, Style arrived at Hartford Correctional Center (“Hartford Correctional”). See Compl., Exs., Doc. No. 1-1 at 6, 21. On October 31, 2016, Correctional Officer Brown informed Style that he had an attorney visit, but did not identify the attorney by name. See Compl., Doc. No. 1 at 1. Style was not aware that any attorney visit had been scheduled and did not want to meet with the attorney who had been appointed to represent him in his federal criminal case due to a conflict of interest. See Id. Officer Brown and Officer Dastasi informed Style that the visit was about the fact that one of his kids had died. See Id. Neither officer disclosed the name of the child who had passed away. See Id. Nor did they know the name of the attorney who had come to visit Style. See id.

         Officers Brown and Dastasi handed Style a pass to go down to the area where he could visit with the attorney who had come to the facility. See Id. When he arrived at the attorney visitation area, Style questioned Officer John Doe #1 about the identity of the attorney who had come to visit him. See Id. Officer John Doe #1 was unable to read the signature in the log book of the attorney who had come to visit Style. See Id. Without waiting to meet with the attorney, Style asked another officer to escort him back to his housing unit. See id.

         When he arrived back at his housing unit, Style asked Officer Brown for permission to call his family to find out which of his children had passed away. See Id. Officer Brown informed Style that his shift had ended and Style would have to ask for a telephone call from the officer assigned to the next shift. Style asked the next shift officer, John Doe #2, for permission to make a call to his family. See Id. Officer John Doe #2 informed Style that he would have to wait to make the call until after a count had been taken of all inmates in the unit. See id.

         Style then asked Officer John Doe #3 to make a telephone call to his family and the officer told Style he would have to wait until 6:30 pm to make his call and called him a “dumbass.” See Id. Style asked Officer John Doe #3 if he could speak to a mental health worker. See Id. Officer John Doe #3 permitted Style to go the mental health department. See Id. A mental health worker granted Style's request to call his sister who confirmed that no one had died. See id.

         Style filed several inmate requests seeking an investigation into the dissemination of false information regarding a death in his family by Officers Brown and Dastasi. See Id. On November 1, 2016, Style gave a statement to Captain Green as part of the investigation. See id.

         On November 3, 2016, Assistant Federal Public Defender James Maguire visited Style. See Id. at 8-9. Style claims that Attorney Maguire apologized for falsely informing correctional officers that one of his children had passed away. See Id. at 9. Style asked Attorney Maguire to leave because he did not want Maguire to act as his attorney and had allegedly already tried to fire Maguire as his attorney on two previous occasions. See id.

         On December 21, 2016, Captain Green spoke with Style regarding the investigation into the information that had been disseminated about his children's wellbeing. See Id. Captain Green informed Style that the message that a child had passed away had been intended for another inmate who met with Attorney Maguire on October 31, 2016. See Id. at 8-9. On December 23, 2016, Style received a written reply from Warden Faneuff confirming that the information regarding the death of a child had been mistakenly disseminated to Style instead of to the proper inmate. See Compl., Exs., Doc. No. 1-1 at 27. Warden Faneuff apologized for any distress the incident had caused Style. See id.

         Style wrote to Commissioner Semple regarding the October 31, 2016 incident. See Compl., Doc. No. 1 at 9. On January 27, 2017, Warden Faneuff and another officer allegedly verbally threatened and harassed Style in Warden Faneuff's office. See id.

         Style claims that Hartford Correctional officials delayed delivery of legal papers that had been sent to him at the facility on December 15, 2016. See Id. Style received the legal mail on December 27, 2016. The legal mail had already been opened outside of his presence. See id.

         Style claims that the U.S. Marshals knew about the incident that occurred on October 31, 2016 and that he was not receiving medical and dental treatment at Hartford Correctional. See Id. On January 24, 2017, Judge Covello authorized a transfer of Style from Hartford Correctional to a federal prison facility. See Id. The ...


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