United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON PENDING MOTIONS
R. UNDERHILL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Brown-currently incarcerated at the Cheshire Correctional
Institution (“Cheshire”) in Cheshire,
Connecticut-originally filed a civil rights complaint against
Commissioner Scott Semple, Director of Mental Health Dr.
Robert Trestman, Dr. Henry Crabbe, Dr. Gerald Gagne, Jr.,
Warden Santiago, Deputy Warden Robert Martin, Deputy Warden
Jeffrey Zegarzewski, Captain James Shabanes, Correctional
Officer Aponte, Health Services Administrator Ron Labonte,
and Administrative Remedy Coordinator Kimberly Daly. Brown
has now filed a motion for leave to file an amended
complaint; two motions to supplement the cover page of the
amended complaint; two motions for order; a motion to file
excess interrogatories; and a motion for extension of time.
For the reasons set forth below, I grant Brown's motion
for leave to amend and his first motion to supplement the
cover page of the amended complaint, and deny his remaining
Motion to Supplement Cover Page - Amended Complaint [Docs.
Nos. 34 & 35]
has filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint.
Attached to the motion to amend is a proposed amended
complaint. After filing the motion for leave to file an
amended complaint, Brown realized that he had left defendant
Officer Aponte off of the list of defendants on the first
page of the proposed amended complaint. He seeks leave to
file a supplemental first page of the proposed amended
complaint that includes Officer Aponte.
motions to supplement cover page are essentially identical.
Accordingly, I grant Brown's first motion to supplement
the cover page, Doc. No. 34, and deny his second motion, Doc.
No. 35, as moot.
Motion to Amend Complaint [Doc. No. 30]
seeks leave to file an amended complaint to add new claims
and defendants. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1)
provides that “[a] party may amend its pleading once as
of [right] within: (A) 21 days after serving it, or (B) if
the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is
required, [within] 21 days after service of a responsive
pleading or 21 days after service of a motion” to
dismiss, for more definite statement or to strike,
“whichever is earlier.” Because the defendants
have not filed a responsive pleading or a Rule 12(b)(6),
12(e) or 12(f) motion in response to the complaint, Brown may
amend once as a matter of right.
I grant Brown's motion for leave to file an amended
complaint. The Clerk shall docket the proposed amended
complaint attached to Brown's motion, Doc. No. 30. The
Clerk shall also docket the supplemental first page of the
amended complaint attached to Brown's motion to
supplement cover page, Doc. No. 34, at 5, as a supplemental
first page of the amended complaint.
consider the sufficiency of the allegations in the amended
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b) and Rule
8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Standard of Review
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), a court “shall dismiss
a case at any time if it determines that” the complaint
or amended complaint “is frivolous or malicious . . .
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or
seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief.” Id. Dismissal of a complaint or
amended complaint on those grounds is required
“regardless of whether the prisoner has paid the filing
fee” or is proceeding in forma pauperis.
See Carr v. Dvorin, 171 F.3d 115, 116 (2d Cir. 1999)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a
complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although detailed allegations are not
required, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.' 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.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). A complaint that includes only “‘labels
and conclusions, ' . . . ‘a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action, '” or
“‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of
‘further factual enhancement'” does not meet
the facial plausibility standard. Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). “Even after
Twombly” and Iqbal, courts
“remain obligated to construe a pro se
complaint liberally, ” but the complaint must include
sufficient factual allegations to meet the standard of facial
plausibility. See Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72
(2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).
amended complaint includes essentially the same allegations
as his original complaint but adds new allegations and new
defendants. The defendants named in the amended complaint are
as follows: Commissioner Scott Semple, Director of Mental
Health Dr. Robert Trestman, Dr. Henry Crabbe, Warden Antonio
Santiago, Deputy Warden Robert Martin, Deputy Warden Jeffrey
Zegarzewski, Captain James Shabanes, Dr. Gerald Gagne, Jr.,
Dr. Paul Chaplin, Dr. Berger, Lieutenant Halloran, Dr. Bruce
Lichtenstein, Dental Director Dr. Benoint, Dr. Craig Burns,
Nurse Sandy Pepin, Nurse George, Health Services
Administrator Sharon Brown, Grievance Coordinator Michelle
King, Dr. Elizabeth Coursen, Nurse Kim, and Correctional
Officer Luis Aponte.
claims that, since 1993, various mental health professionals
have prescribed medications to treat his various mental
health conditions including, borderline personality disorder,
anxiety, anti-social traits, suicidal ideation,
self-mutilation, depression, and post-traumatic stress
disorder. Commissioner Semple and other Department of
Correction officials have created several “inmate
profiles” that restrict interactions between Brown and
other inmates because of past incidents. Brown alleges that
the defendants have used those profiles to prevent him from
being housed at Garner Correctional Institution
(“Garner”) or Osborn Correctional Institution
(“Osborn”) because the other inmates with whom
Brown had prior conflicts are housed at those facilities and
the facilities are not large enough to accommodate both Brown
and the other inmates. Brown contends that Garner and Osborn
are the only prison facilities in Connecticut that are
equipped to treat his various mental health conditions.
states, that as of May 2016, he had been confined at Corrigan
Correctional Institution (“Corrigan”) for three
years. He asserts that at some point prior to May 19, 2016, a
former warden and a deputy warden of Corrigan as well as a
nurse and a psychologist who worked at Corrigan had approved
of and implemented a particular form of behavioral treatment
for him. According to Brown, that treatment was successful in
addressing the behaviors that were caused by his various
mental health conditions.
to May 2016, the nurse and the psychologist left Corrigan and
the warden and deputy warden were replaced by Warden Santiago
and Deputy Wardens Robert Martin and Jeffery Zegerzewski. The
new administration at Corrigan-which included Warden
Santiago, Deputy Wardens Martin and Zegerzewski, Captain
Shabenas, and Lieutenant Halloran-did not authorize the
treatment methods used by the former nurse and psychologist,
and the new members of the mental health staff at Corrigan
abandoned those methods of treating Brown. Brown claims that
Santiago, Martin, Zegerzewski, Shabenas and Halloran were
deliberately indifferent to his mental health needs when they
no longer permitted mental health professionals at Corrigan
to treat him using the methods prescribed by the former nurse
also alleges that Dr. Coursen was his psychologist at
Corrigan for a period of two years prior to his transfer to
Cheshire on May 31, 2016. During that two-year period,
Brown's relationship with Dr. Coursen allegedly changed
from a doctor-patient relationship to a more personal,
physical, and sexual relationship. At times, Dr. Coursen
would force Brown to take medication to reduce his anxiety
during their elicit encounters.
Santiago, Deputy Wardens Martin and Zegerzewski, Captain
Shabenas, Dr. Crabbe, and Dr. Chaplin allegedly were aware of
Dr. Coursen's inappropriate conduct toward Brown. Nurse
Kim was the assistant to Dr. Crabbe and her office was close
to Dr. Coursen's office. Nurse Kim allegedly observed Dr.
Coursen's inappropriate behavior, but failed to take any
action to stop it.
also asserts that at some time during his confinement at
Corrigan prior to May 2016, Michelle King was his counselor.
She was allegedly in contact with Dr. Coursen and became
aware of the inappropriate relationship between Dr. Coursen
and Brown. As of May 2016, Michelle King was a Grievance
Coordinator at Corrigan.
19, 2016, Brown became involved in a heated debate with
Officer Aponte. Brown became agitated and tried to harm
himself. Officer Aponte called a code and escorted Brown to
the medical infirmary. Dr. Coursen placed Brown in a cell on
time of his placement in the infirmary, Brown required
partial dentures in order to chew his food. Brown claims that
after his transfer to the infirmary at Corrigan, Officer
Aponte and Lieutenant Halloran prepared and packed up the
property in his cell in general population and placed it in
temporary storage. They neglected to prepare an inventory of
Brown's property items. In addition, they failed to give
Brown's dentures to the medical department and instead
discarded them. Brown has been unable to eat on one side of
his mouth without the partial dentures.
point, after the plaintiff's placement in the medical
infirmary, Warden Santiago, Deputy Warden Martin, Deputy
Warden Zegerzewski, Captain Shabenas, Health Services
Administrator Labonte, Dr. Gagne, Dr. Crabbe, Dr. Chaplin,
Dr. Berger, Dr. Burns, and Dr. Coursen concluded that the
only possible course of action was to transfer Brown to
Cheshire. Dr. Crabbe adjusted Brown's mental health score
to facilitate his transfer to Cheshire. On May 31, 2016,
Warden Santiago issued an order that Brown be transferred to
Cheshire and correctional officers transported Brown to
Cheshire that day.
claims that during his confinement in the infirmary at
Corrigan from May 19, 2016 to May 31, 2016, Dr. Coursen
searched his personal property for letters from her to him
and photographs of his family friends in an effort to
cover-up her inappropriate relationship with him. Brown
contends that Dr. Coursen destroyed some of his personal
photographs before prison officials transferred him to
Cheshire on May 31, 2016.
claims that the appropriate mental health professionals,
resources and services necessary to treat his mental
illnesses are unavailable at Cheshire. Brown contends that
Drs. Gagne, Crabbe, Chaplin, Berger, Burns, and Coursen,
Warden Santiago, Deputy Wardens Robert Martin and Jeffery
Zegerzewski, Captain Shabenas, Lieutenant Halloran, and
Administrator Labonte were all aware that Cheshire could not
provide him with the appropriate mental health treatment, but
transferred him anyway.
claims that during his confinement in the infirmary at
Corrigan in May 2016, Dr. Gagne was a psychiatrist at Osborn
and Northern Correctional Institution
(“Northern”). Dr. Gagne allegedly refused to
permit Brown to be transferred to Osborn and approved the
decision to transfer Brown to Cheshire in retaliation for
Brown's filing of past grievances and complaints about
mental health treatment.
1, 2016, at Cheshire, a psychologist allegedly informed Brown
that Cheshire was not equipped to treat his mental health
conditions. The psychologist contacted Drs. Berger and
Chaplin regarding the unsuitability of Cheshire for
Brown's mental health needs, but they took no action.
3, 2016, Brown informed Nurse George that he could not keep
bulk medications in his cell because of his attempts to harm
himself. After Brown returned to his housing unit, Nurse
George allegedly falsely accused him of being suicidal.
Although Nurse Pepin was not present in the medical
department when Brown spoke to Nurse George, Nurse Pepin
confirmed the observations of Nurse George with regard to
Brown's suicidal statements. Correctional officers
handcuffed Brown and brought him to the segregation unit.
Brown was forced to endure a humiliating strip search. Nurses
George and Pepin caused Brown be placed on behavior
observation status. The behavior observation cell was filthy
and the sink and toilet could not be used. Brown remained in
the cell on behavior observation status until June 6, 2016.
also asserts that Drs. Benoint and Lichtenstein failed to
provide him with dental treatment during his confinement at
Cheshire. In addition, they did not replace his partial
dentures in a timely manner.
in July 2016, Brown met with Dr. Chaplin on a regular basis
at Cheshire. During his sessions with Dr. Chaplin, Brown
related all of the inappropriate behavior exhibited by Dr.
Coursen during her treatment of him at Corrigan and that he
had been forced to become involved in a sexual relationship
with Dr. Coursen. Dr. Chaplin failed to report those
allegations pursuant to the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
preliminary matter, Brown's proposed amended complaint
does not comply with Rule 8's pleading requirements. Rule
8(a)(2) requires that a complaint contain “a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Rule 8(d)(1) provides that
“[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise and
direct.” The purpose of Rule 8 is “to permit the
defendant to have a fair understanding of what the plaintiff
is complaining about and to know whether there is a legal
basis for recovery.” Ricciutti v. N.Y.C. Trans.
Auth., 941 F.2d 119, 123 (2d Cir. 1991). In addition,
“the rule serves to sharpen the issues to be litigated
and to confine discovery and the presentation of evidence at
trial within reasonable bounds.” Powell v. Marine
Midland Bank, 162 F.R.D. 15, 16 (N.D.N.Y. 1995). The
plaintiff's statement of his claim “should be short
because ‘[u]nnecessary prolixity in a pleading places
an unjustified burden on the court and the party who must
respond to it because they are forced to select the relevant
material from a mass of verbiage.'” Salahuddin
v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988) (quoting 5 C.
Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure
§ 1281, at 365 (1969)).
litigant does not comply with Rule 8's requirements, the
court may strike any portion of the complaint that is
redundant or immaterial pursuant to Rule 12(f).
Alternatively, the court may dismiss the complaint in its
entirety in those cases “in which the complaint is so
confused, ambiguous, vague, or otherwise unintelligible that
its true substance, if any, is well disguised.”
Salahuddin, 861 F.2d at 42. For example, in
Salahuddin, the Second Circuit had “no
doubt” that a complaint “span[ning] 15
single-spaced pages and contain[ing] explicit descriptions of
20-odd defendants, their official positions, and their roles
in the alleged denials of [the plaintiff]'s rights”
failed to comply with Rule 8's requirement of a
“short and plain statement.” Id. at 43.
Accordingly, the Second Circuit stated that “the
district court was within the bounds of discretion to strike
or dismiss the complaint for noncompliance with Rule
present case, Brown's proposed amended complaint is
neither “short and plain” nor
“simple.” As indicated above, Brown originally
named eleven defendants. The amended complaint adds twelve new
defendants: Lieutenant Halloran, Dr. Chaplin, Dr. Berger, Dr.
Lichtenstein, Nurse Pepin, Nurse George, Nurse Kim, Dr.
Benoint, Health Services Administrator Brown, Dr. Coursen,
Dr. Burns, and Grievance Coordinator Michelle King. The
amended complaint raises 30 claims for relief over the course
of 300 paragraphs and 59 pages; another 115 pages are
attached as exhibits. The incidents to which the amended
complaint refers occurred at two different facilities over a
period of several years. Like the complaint in
Salahuddin, Brown's pleading here clearly
“contains a surfeit of detail.” 861 F.2d at 43.
Dental, Deliberate Indifference to Safety/Failure to
Protect, and Improper Placement in Segregation Claims
the claims in Brown's amended complaint are entirely
unrelated to those in the original complaint. Those claims
include (1) the allegations against Drs. Benoint and
Lichtenstein regarding dental treatment; (2) the allegations
against defendants Aponte and Halloran regarding the loss of
Brown's partial dentures; (3) the allegations against
Drs. Coursen, Chaplin, Berger, and Crabbe, Warden Santiago,
Deputy Wardens Martin and Zegerzewski, Captain Shabenas,
Grievance Coordinator King, and Nurse Kim regarding the
inappropriate and potentially harmful relationship between
Dr. Coursen and Brown during his ...