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Brown v. Santiago

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 28, 2017

ANTONIO SANTIAGO, et al. Defendants.


          Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.

         On August 23, 2017, plaintiff Christopher Brown, an inmate currently housed at Cheshire Correctional Institution in Cheshire, CT, brought a civil complaint (ECF No. 1) pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Warden Antonio Santiago, Warden Faucher, Director of Offender Classification and Population Management David Maiga, District Administrator Edward Maldonado, and Captain Daniel Dauherty in their individual and official capacities for damages and injunctive relief. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his safety, in violation of his Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment, for events that occurred while he was housed at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution (“Corrigan”) in Uncasville, Connecticut. On August 24, 2017, this Court granted his motion to proceed in forma pauperis. See Order #6.

         On October 17, 2017, this court dismissed the plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim against defendants Santiago, Faucher, Maiga, and Maldonado under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Initial Review Order (ECF No. 8) at 5. The court dismissed without prejudice the plaintiff's claim against defendant Dauherty but permitted him the opportunity to submit an amended complaint with additional factual allegations supporting a deliberate indifference to safety claim against Dauherty. Id. at 6, 8.

         On November 15, 2017, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint. Am. Compl. (ECF No. 9). However, rather than allege additional facts against defendant Dauherty, he withdrew his claim against Dauherty, and restated his claim against defendants Santiago, Maiga, and Maldonado. Although it does not comply with the instructions in the Initial Review Order, the court will construe the amended complaint as seeking reconsideration of the order dismissing the claim against Santiago, Maiga, and Maldonado. The amended complaint seeks damages against Santiago, Maiga, and Maldonado but does not specify in what capacity the plaintiff is suing them. For reasons stated below, the plaintiff's amended complaint may proceed against defendants Santiago and Maiga in their individual capacities, but his claim against defendant Maldonado is dismissed.

         I. Relevant Legal Principles

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, 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. 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 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.” Bell Atlantic, 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).

         II. Factual Allegations

         On May 18, 2011, the plaintiff was involved in a physical altercation with another inmate, Jose Torres, while housed at Garner Correctional Institution (“Garner”) in Newtown, Connecticut. See Am. Compl. At 10; Pl.'s Ex. (ECF No. 9-1) at 26. The plaintiff later pled guilty to a disciplinary report that was issued as a result of that incident. Pl. Ex. (ECF No. 9-1) at 28.

         Defendant Maiga is the Director of Population Management and determines where an inmate will be housed based, in part, on whether there exist any documented “profiles” between that inmate and another inmate that would warrant separation.

         On January 9, 2017, defendant Maiga transferred the plaintiff to Corrigan[1]“knowing that [the plaintiff] had a profile with Jose Torres, ” who at that time was also housed at Corrigan. Defendant Santiago, the Warden of Corrigan, placed the plaintiff in the H-Pod unit, the same housing unit as Torres, despite knowing that he had an existing separation profile with Torres. The plaintiff claims that he has “an abundance of proof and records that there was a profile between [Torres and him].” Pl.'s Ex. (ECF No. 9-1) at 23. On January 12, Torres and another inmate, both of whom were members of the Latin Kings gang, assaulted the plaintiff in his cell in the H-Pod unit.

         After the assault, the plaintiff was taken to the restrictive housing unit at Corrigan for one day and issued a disciplinary report for fighting. Correctional staff later determined that the plaintiff merely defended himself during the attack, and the report was dismissed.

         Shortly after he was released from the restrictive housing unit, the plaintiff began suffering from headaches and blackouts. He repeatedly filed requests for medical assistance. It was not until the plaintiff threatened legal action that medical staff responded to his requests and treated him for his injuries.

         After the assault, the plaintiff submitted a request to Counselor Supervisor Lacy seeking information on any known profiles concerning Torres and him. Lacy informed the plaintiff that there were no known profiles regarding the two of them. The plaintiff believes that Lacy lied to him. He then filed grievances with “the warden”[2] and other supervisory staff regarding any documented information on Torres and him, followed by a “Level 2 grievance” to defendant Maldonado in March of 2017 stating his concerns about his placement in the H-Pod and the subsequent assault. Maldonado denied the plaintiff any form of relief.

         On March 27, 2017, defendant Santiago responded to one of the plaintiff's grievances stating that the staff at Corrigan “would have no knowledge of any prior incidents [with Torres] if no profiles were entered into the computer.” Pl.'s Ex. (ECF No. 9-1) at 25. Santiago instructed the plaintiff to forward to him any documentation he had stating otherwise.[3]Id. He also stated that “[i]t wasn't until the incident that occurred on 1/27/17 [that Corrigan staff learned] from a comment that was ...

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