Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Brown v. Semple

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

September 25, 2017

KENYA BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT SEMPLE, et al., Defendants.

          RULING ON PENDING MOTIONS

          STEFAN R. UNDERHILL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Kenya 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 motions.

         I. Motion to Supplement Cover Page - Amended Complaint [Docs. Nos. 34 & 35]

         Brown 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.

         The 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.

         II. Motion to Amend Complaint [Doc. No. 30]

         Brown 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.

         Accordingly, 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.

         I now 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.

         A. Standard of Review

         Under 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) (per curiam).

         Rule 8 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).

         B. Allegations

         Brown's 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.[1]

         Brown 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.

         Brown 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.

         Prior 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 and psychologist.

         Brown 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.

         Warden 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.

         Brown 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.

         On May 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 observation status.

         At the 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.

         At some 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.

         Brown 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.

         Brown 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.

         Brown 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.

         On June 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.

         On June 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.

         Brown 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.

         Beginning 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.

         C. Discussion

         As a 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)).

         When a 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 8.” Id.

         In the present case, Brown's proposed amended complaint is neither “short and plain” nor “simple.” As indicated above, Brown originally named eleven defendants.[2] 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.

         1. Dental, Deliberate Indifference to Safety/Failure to Protect, and Improper Placement in Segregation Claims

         Many of 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.