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Montgomery v. Department of Corrections

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 13, 2017




         Plaintiff Harold Montgomery, currently incarcerated in the Walker building of the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut, filed this case pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, asserting claims alleging violations of various federal and state constitutional rights. The plaintiff names three defendants: the Department of Correction, Deputy Warden Guadarrama, and Lieutenant Beebe. Defendants Guadarrama and Beebe are named in their individual and official capacities.[1] The complaint was received by the Court on September 28, 2017. The plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on November 3, 2017. (ECF No. 10.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court dismisses the complaint without prejudice.

         The Court must review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, that 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 the grounds upon which they are based and to demonstrate a plausible right to relief. Bell Atlantic 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).

         I. Allegations

         On August 31, 2017, the plaintiff was housed in cell 8 in B-unit of the Walker building at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution. That day, he told defendants Guadarrama and Beebe that the emergency call button in his cell was inoperable. Defendant Beebe pressed the button and did not receive a response from the control center. The plaintiff repeated his complaint on several occasions. At some unspecified time between August 31, 2017, and September 13, 2017, the day he signed the complaint, the plaintiff fell, injuring his neck and experiencing back pain, “and could not receive” immediate help. The plaintiff provides no other details about this event, including whether he required and received medical treatment and, if so, the interval between his injury and any such treatment.

         II. Analysis

         The plaintiff identifies the following claims: (1) deliberate indifference, (2) failure to protect, (3) cruel and unusual punishment, (4) denial of adequate medical care/negligence, and (5) unconstitutional conditions of confinement. He also alleges violation of his rights under the First, Eighth, Tenth and Fourteenth Amendments as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act.

         A. Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act

         The purpose of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., is “to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.” 42 U.S.C. § 12101(b)(1). The statute provides that “no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by such entity.” 42 U.S.C. 42 U.S.C. § 12132. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §794(a), provides that “[n]o otherwise qualified individual with a disability … shall solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency.” Both statutes are intended “to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability and to ensure evenhanded treatment between the disabled and the able-bodied.” Doe v. Pfrommer, 148 F.3d 73, 82 (2d Cir. 1998). The plaintiff also refers to 28 C.F.R. §§ 35.130 and 35.152(b)(3), two implementing regulations of the ADA, which require that disabled inmates be housed in cells modified to ensure accessibility.

         The ADA defines “disability” as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2)(A). When analyzing claims, “courts have been careful to distinguish impairments which merely affect major life activities from those that substantially limit those activities.” Troeger v. Ellenville Cent. Sch. Dist., 523 F. App'x 848, 852 (2d Cir. 2013) (citation and quotation marks omitted).

         The plaintiff identifies no disability that limits any of his major life activities. Absent a showing that his is disabled and that the defendants acted because of the disability, the plaintiff cannot state a cognizable claim for violation of his rights under the ADA or Rehabilitation Act. All claims under the ADA or Rehabilitation Act are dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). As there is no ADA violation, any claims based on the alleged failure to comply with the implementing regulations also are dismissed.

         Even if the plaintiff were disabled, his claim would be dismissed. Neither the ADA nor the Rehabilitation Act applies to claims regarding the quality of medical services provided by correctional departments or provide a remedy for medical malpractice. See Maccharulo v. New York State Dep't of Corr. Servs., No. 08 Civ. 301(LTS), 2010 WL 2899751, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. July 21, 2010) (citations omitted). “[T]he disabilities statutes do not guarantee any particular level of medical care for disabled persons, nor assure maintenance of services previously provided.” CERCPAC v. Health & Hosp. Corp., 147 F.3d 165, 168 (2d Cir. 1988). Such claims are considered under the Eighth Amendment. See Elbert v. New York State Dep't of Corr. Servs., 751 F.Supp.2d 590, 595 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) (dismissing ADA suit alleging inadequate medical treatment but not alleging inmate was treated differently because of disability).

         B. Eighth Amendment Claims

         The plaintiff contends that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, failed to protect him from harm, and subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement and cruel and unusual punishment for failing to house him in a cell with a working emergency call button. He argues that the lack of a working ...

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