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Andrews v. Semple

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 21, 2017

DION ANDREWS, Plaintiff,
SCOTT SEMPLE, et al., Defendants.



         Dion Andrews (“Andrews”), currently confined at Northern Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut, filed this complaint pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 challenging his conditions of confinement and alleging that the defendants failed to protect him from assault by another inmate and violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The named defendants are Scott Semple, John Aldy, Allison Black, Denise Walker, Lieutenant Papoosha, Correctional Officer John Doe, and Counselor Ferriera. Andrews's complaint was received on July 24, 2017, and his motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on July 27, 2017.

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I 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. 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

         The incidents underlying this action occurred while Andrews was confined at Bridgeport Correctional Center (“Bridgeport”). Andrews is classified as seriously mentally ill. He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and paranoia. Andrews has taken medication to address his mental disorders.

         On January 29, 2017, Andrews was injured in an altercation with inmate Craig Rivera. Following the incident, correctional officials created a separation profile to keep the two inmates apart. However, defendants Semple, Walker, Black, Aldy, and Papoosha kept both inmates confined in the same protective custody unit at Bridgeport. Andrews told defendants Black, Walker, Aldy, and Papoosha that he feared for his safety and requested a transfer to another housing unit before he was assaulted again.

         On March 6, 2017, Andrews was released from his cell to go to recreation. While on recreation, Andrews went to use the phone. While doing so, inmate Rivera jumped out of the shower, where he had been hiding, pushed Andrews onto the “slop sink” and began to beat him. Andrews suffered injuries to his head, neck and back. Andrews alleges that defendants Doe and Ferriera failed to ensure that all inmates, in particular inmate Rivera, were secure in their assigned cells before releasing Andrews for recreation.

         Officers responded to the altercation and used a chemical agent to separate the inmates. Andrews was exposed to an excessive amount of chemical agent causing him to experience pain and burning in his eyes and difficulty breathing.

         Defendants Semple and Aldy placed Andrews on Security Risk Group (“SRG”) status even though he is not a gang member. Andrews previously had been assaulted in the SRG unit at Walker Correctional Institution. Several gang members had assaulted him because he was not a gang member. After the prior incident, Andrews was placed on SRG protective custody status for his safety.

         Inmate Rivera was a member of the same gang whose members had previously assaulted Andrews. Defendants Black, Walker and Papoosha were aware of this when making Andrews's cell assignment.

         Andrews is denied commissary, telephone access, visits, a television, a hand-held game boy, and other property that general population inmates are permitted. He is also denied post-secondary education and a job outside the housing unit, and provided only limited communication with other inmates, limited gym recreation, and limited visiting days that are inconvenient for his family. He is not housed in the most integrated setting appropriate for his mental health needs, but rather under restrictive conditions.

         II. Analysis

         Andrews includes four counts in his complaint.[1] In the first count, Andrews alleges that all defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his safety and serious mental health needs. In the second count, Andrews alleges that he has a protected liberty interest in avoiding SRG protective custody and that defendants Semple, Aldy, Black, and Papoosha violated his right to due process by failing to remove him from SRG status, transfer him after the fight with inmate Rivera, or transfer him to Garner Correctional Institution. In the third count, Andrews alleges that defendants Semple, Aldy, Black, Walker, and Papoosha violated his Eighth Amendment rights by creating a policy, or permitting an existing policy to continue, under which he was deprived of adequate safety, by failing to properly supervise their subordinates to ensure his safety. In the fourth count, Andrews alleges that the defendants have violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

         A. Deliberate Indifference

         1. Deliberate Indifference to Safety

         Prison officials have a duty to make reasonable efforts to ensure inmate safety. To establish a constitutional violation, an inmate must show that the conditions of his incarceration posed a substantial risk of serious harm and that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to his safety. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). Deliberate indifference exists where prison officials know of and disregard an excessive risk to inmate safety. See Id. at 837; Bridgewater v. Taylor, 698 F.Supp.2d 351, 357 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) (explaining that defendants must be aware of facts supporting an inference that harm would occur and must actually draw that inference). For example, correctional staff would ...

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