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Dorlette v. Semple

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 13, 2017

SCOTT S. SEMPLE, et al., Defendants.



         The plaintiff, Faroulh Dorlette, is currently incarcerated at Northern Correctional Institution (“Northern”) in Somers, Connecticut. He initiated this action by filing a civil rights complaint against Commissioner Scott Semple, former Commissioners of Correction James Dzurenda and Leo Arnone, Director of Security C.M. Whidden, District Administrator John Doe 1, and Director of Classification and Population Management John Doe 2. Pending before the court is the plaintiff's motion seeking injunctive relief. For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be denied.

         I. Motion for Emergency Preliminary Injunction [ECF No. 61]

         On August 22, 2016, the plaintiff filed an ex parte motion seeking a preliminary injunction enjoining his security group designation and housing in segregation. On September 7, 2016, the plaintiff informed the Clerk that he had been transferred to a prison facility in Vermont. See Notice, ECF No. 26.

         On October 26, 2016, after providing the Department of Correction with notice of the plaintiff's motion, the court held a hearing to address the motion's request for relief. Assistant Attorney General Terrence M. O'Neill appeared for the Department of Correction and the plaintiff appeared for himself. After the hearing, the court denied the motion seeking injunctive relief as moot because, the evidence adduced at the hearing revealed that pursuant to a 2014 settlement agreement between the Connecticut Department of Correction and the plaintiff, Department of Correction officials had transferred the plaintiff to a prison facility in Vermont and prison officials in Vermont had assigned the plaintiff to a minimum security classification. See Mem. Order, ECF No. 39. The court also concluded that the plaintiff's future housing under a Security Risk Group designation was not likely to be capable of repetition. See Id. The court noted that the plaintiff could renew his motion if became incarcerated in a Connecticut prison facility in the future as a Security Risk Group Member. See id.

         Seven months after the hearing, on May 12, 2017, the plaintiff filed a notice of a change of address dated May 10, 2017, indicating that he had been transferred back to Connecticut and was confined at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution (“Corrigan”). See ECF No. 52. On that same date, the plaintiff filed an ex parte motion seeking to reopen the case and to have the court revisit his previous motion for injunctive relief. On June 5, 2017, the court permitted the plaintiff to renew his motion for injunctive relief. He filed an ex parte motion for injunctive relief on July 12, 2017. The court denied the motion without prejudice because the plaintiff had filed it ex parte. On September 5, 2017, the plaintiff filed the same motion seeking injunctive relief, but did not include “ex parte” in the designation on page one of the motion. That motion is currently pending before the court.

         In his motion, Plaintiff claims that he “has been segregated from the general inmate population illegally for the past ten (10) years, in harsh conditions of confinement and without any or meaningful periodic review to return to the general inmate population.” [Dkt. No. 61-1 at 1]. He claims to have been in segregation since August 23, 2006 because he is classified as a gang member although he is “not an active member of a gang.” Id. at 4. Plaintiff claims he is suffering irreparable harm as evidenced by his current and past hunger strikes in protest of his designation, the permanent physical harm which a hunger strike can cause, and restrictions on his rights of association, exercise of religion, and liberty.

         A. Standard of Review

         Preliminary injunctive relief “is an ‘extraordinary and drastic remedy . . . that should not be granted unless the movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden of persuasion.” Moore v. Consol. Edison Co. of New York, Inc., 409 F.3d 506, 510 (2d Cir. 2005) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). To warrant preliminary injunctive relief, the moving party must demonstrate (a) that he or she will suffer “irreparable harm” in the absence of an injunction, and (b) either (1) a “likelihood of success on the merits or (2) sufficiently serious questions going to the merits [of the case] to make them a fair ground for litigation and a balance of hardships tipping decidedly toward the party requesting preliminary injunctive relief.” Cacchillo v. Insmed, Inc., 638 F.3d 401, 405-06 (2d Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         Inmates do not forfeit all of their constitutional rights at the prison gates. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 555(1963). That having been said, they do forfeit many rights enjoyed by lawful individuals. “[L]awful incarceration brings about the necessary withdrawal or limitation of many privileges and rights, a retraction justified by the considerations underlying our penal system.” Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners' Labor Union, Inc., 433 U.S. 119, 125 (1977) (quoting Price v. Johnston, 334 U.S. 266, 285 (1948)). It is expected that prison officials will discipline inmates to encourage compliant and discourage deviant behavior, and thus discipline is an expected and usual condition of prison confinement. Price, 334 U.S. at 285. Administrative segregation is the sort of confinement that inmates should reasonably anticipate receiving at some point in their incarceration, particularly where warranted to assure prison safety. Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 473 (1993). Prison security is jeopardized by prison gangs. Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 213 (2005). It is wholly permissible to impose discipline to assure that gang culture and warfare do not pose a risk to the safety of prison inmates and staff.

         A hearing is generally required on a properly supported motion for preliminary injunction if material facts are in dispute. See Kern v. Clark, 331 F.3d 9, 12 (2d Cir. 2003) (“the existence of factual disputes necessitates an evidentiary hearing . . . before a motion for preliminary injunction may be decided.”) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). “[W]hen the relevant facts either are not in dispute or have been clearly demonstrated at prior stages of the case . . . or when the disputed facts are amenable to complete resolution on a paper record, ” a hearing is not required to resolve a motion for preliminary injunction. Charette v. Town of Oyster Bay, 159 F.3d 749, 755 (2d Cir. 1998) (citations omitted). The court concludes that that the motion seeking injunctive relief may be resolved without a hearing.

         B. Discussion

         The plaintiff has designated his motion as a motion seeking preliminary injunctive relief. He requests a court order directing the defendants to release him from segregation and transfer him to general population. In support of his motion, the plaintiff has filed a document designated as “Supplemental Information Provided in Ex Parte.” See ECF No. 62. This document is not signed by the plaintiff. Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that “[e]very pleading, written motion, and other paper must be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney's name-or by a party personally if the party is unrepresented.” Because the document designated “Supplemental Information” is unsigned and does not comply with Rule 11, and the court has previously directed the plaintiff not to file his requests for injunctive relief ex parte, the court does not consider the “Supplemental Information” in deciding the motion seeking injunctive relief.

         Plaintiff claims that he is irreparably injuring himself by engaging in a hunger strike. He states that he is protesting the harmful conditions of confinement in segregation. He asserts that he has engaged in hunger strikes and also tried to harm or kill himself by swallowing razor blades in the past. He contends ...

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