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Lewis v. Swicki

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

September 27, 2017




         The plaintiff, Christopher J.M. Lewis (“Lewis”), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S. § 1983, alleging that the defendants, Lieutenant Swicki[1] (“Swicki”) and Captain Butkiewicus (“Butkiewicus”), violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The plaintiff, who is an inmate at a facility operated by the Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”), claims that the defendants failed to prevent another inmate from assaulting him. Pending before the Court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the defendants' motion is granted.


         Summary judgment shall be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “A fact is ‘material' for these purposes when it ‘might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.'” Jeffreys v. City of New York, 426 F.3d 549, 553 (2d Cir. 2005) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine, ” “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 248.

         “When considering a motion for summary judgment, a court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, drawing all inferences in that party's favor.” Jeffreys, 426 F.3d at 553. However, “[t]he mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position will be insufficient.” Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 252. The nonmoving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). “[A]fter adequate time for discovery and upon motion, ” summary judgment is appropriate “against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).


         Lewis, an inmate confined by the DOC, was transferred to Northern Correctional Institution (“Northern”) after being identified as being a member of a security risk group and was placed in Administrative Segregation as part of the Security Risk Group Threat Member Phase I Program (“SRGTM program” or “Program”). The SRGTM Program consists of a heightened security environment because of the potential for assaultive behavior stemming from gang affiliation. Inmates in the SRGTM program are at all times restricted to their cells except for recreation, medical issues, visitation, and phone calls.

         Program inmates are subject to continuous observation every 15 minutes and are handcuffed from behind their backs and escorted whenever they leave their cells.[2] DOC policy requires Program inmates to be searched before they enter the recreation yard and to participate in recreation while handcuffed behind their backs. While Program inmates are in the recreation yard, DOC officers observe them from a window.

         In July 2010, Lewis was involved in an incident with two other Northern inmates, Inmate Mulligan (“Mulligan”) and Inmate Trabakoulos (“Trabakoulos”). Lewis described this incident as follows: “[T]here were discrepancies going on, politics, and we wasn't [sic] seeing eye to eye.” (Doc. # 47-4, at 23, p. 18:2-3). During this incident someone threatened Lewis, but he did not report that threat to anyone. A report concerning this incident was prepared by Swicki in July 2010.[3]

         At all times pertinent to this action, Swicki was the Intelligence Supervisor at Northern. At a meeting in August or September 2010 Swicki told Lewis there was “information that an assault was going to be against you.” (Id. at 38, p. 33:11-12).[4] Prior to his September 2010 transfer to Butkiewicus' cell block, Unit 2E, Lewis met with Swicki and Butkiewicus. At that meeting Swicki and Butkiewicus told Lewis they were aware of the July incident involving Lewis, Mulligan, and Trabakoulos, and Swicki told Lewis that his safety “can be at jeopardy.”[5](Doc. # 47-4, at 40, p. 35:13).

         In July 2010, Swicki intercepted written inmate communications in which Lewis was described as having disagreed with “PIRU Bloods”[6] rules and had been accused of breaking them. Those communications also indicated that Mulligan had reportedly decided that Lewis “was done.” In his affidavit, Swicki states that he “interpreted this to mean that Inmate Mulligan had decided to terminate Inmate Lewis's membership in the PIRU Bloods.” (Doc. # 47-6, at 2, ¶ 5).

         Neither Swicki nor Butkiewicus ever told Lewis that Trabakoulos or any other particular inmate was threatening him with harm. Lewis testified at his deposition that Swicki and Butkiewicus told him that “in my organization, which is Piru [PIRU], somebody is going to attack me.” (Doc. # 47-4, at 44, p. 39:10-11). Trabakoulos was a member of PIRU. While Lewis had differences with Trabakoulos, he never told anyone that he was afraid Trabakoulos would assault him.

         On November 25, 2010, Trabakoulos and Lewis, both of whom were housed on Unit 2E, were in the recreation yard at the same time. Although Trabakoulos was handcuffed behind his back, he was able to slip one of his hands out of the handcuffs and place his hands in front of his body. Trabakoulos had been searched before he went into the recreation yard, but he was able to smuggle a 4-inch piece of metal into the yard and used it to assault Lewis. At the time of the attack, Lewis was handcuffed behind his back and unable to protect himself. He suffered wounds to his face and neck but did not receive stitches.

         Swicki conducted an investigation of the November 25, 2010 attack. During the course of his investigation, Swicki interviewed several Northern inmates. In his report of the investigation, Swicki noted that one of those inmates, Kareen Mayo (“Mayo”), “speculated that the assault was a standing order left by ex-doc inmate Christian Mulligan . . . who was the leader of the Piru blood set.” (Doc. # 47-5, at 4). Swicki's report went on to note that, according to Mayo, the July 2010 incident involving Lewis, Mulligan, and Trabakoulos, led to Mulligan “plac[ing] a hit on inmate Lewis . . . for his disrespect and violation of blood rules. Inmate Trabakoulos was to carry out the ...

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