United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
R. UNDERHILL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
January 3, 2018, Joel Matias, an inmate currently confined at
MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution
(“MWCI”) in Suffield, Connecticut, brought a
civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
four Department of Correction (“DOC”) employees
(Warden Chapdelaine, Counselor Supervisor R. Weldon,
Correction Officer Anderson, and Captain Ogando), and Mark
Silver, another inmate at MWCI. Matias claims that the
defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights against cruel
and unusual punishment, his right to equal protection of the
laws under the Fourteenth Amendment, the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and various state tort
laws. He is suing all defendants in their individual and
official capacities and seeks monetary, injunctive, and
declaratory relief. On January 9, 2018, the court,
Garfinkel, J., granted Matias' motion to proceed
in forma pauperis. See Order # 6. For the
following reasons, I dismiss the complaint in part.
Standard of Review
section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code, 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. 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
relevant times, Matias was confined at MWCI. Compl. ¶ 3.
On February 2, 2017, he was transferred from the M-Pod
housing unit to the L-Pod housing unit. Id. at
¶ 10. Upon arrival, Correction Officer Anderson informed
him that he would be placed in cell 21. Id. As
Matias attempted to enter cell 21, Mark Silver, the other
inmate assigned to that cell, became belligerent and blocked
Matias' entry. Id. at ¶ 11. Silver
adamantly expressed to Anderson that he was unwilling to
accept a cellmate because he had been granted single cell
status and would only accept a cellmate of his choosing.
Id. at ¶ 12. Silver showed Anderson
documentation that his single cell status had been granted,
but Anderson ignored his demands. Id. at ¶ 13.
Silver had threatened Matias several times, Matias “did
not try to move into cell 21, ” but Anderson told him
that, if he did not enter the cell, he would be taken to
segregation. Compl. ¶ 15. Reluctant, Matias entered the
cell. See Id. Approximately ten minutes later,
Silver assaulted Matias, rendering him unconscious and
causing him severe injuries. Id. at ¶¶
15-16. Matias was immediately transported to UConn Medical
Center for treatment. Id. at ¶ 16.
time of the incident, Matias was disabled and could barely
walk without the assistance of medical staff or a walker.
Compl. ¶ 17. He was in no condition to defend himself
against Silver. Id. at ¶ 18. He continues to
suffer headaches and neck and back pain as a result of the
is suing Anderson for violating his Eighth Amendment
protection against cruel and unusual punishment by failing to
protect him from Silver's assault. See Compl.
¶ 20. As for the other three DOC defendants,
Chapdelaine, Weldon, and Ogando, Matias claims that they
“knew or should have known [that] . . . Silver was
assaultive . . . being . . . Unit Manager, Warden, and
Classification Supervisor.” Id. at ¶ 19.
He is also raising state law claims of negligence,
intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent
infliction of emotional distress against all defendants and
what appears to be assault and battery against Silver.
See Id. at ¶¶ 2, 19.
Failure to Protect from Harm
claims that Anderson, Chapdelaine, Weldon, and Ogando
violated his Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and
unusual punishment by failing to protect him from
Silver's assault. I conclude that he has stated a
plausible Eighth Amendment claim against Anderson but not
against the other defendants.
Eighth Amendment requires prison officials to “take
reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of . . .
inmates.” Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517,
526-27 (1984). “[P]rison officials have a duty . . . to
protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other
prisoners.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
833 (1994) (internal quotations omitted). However, not every
injury inflicted by one prisoner on another prisoner
establishes constitutional liability on the part of the
prison official responsible for the victim. Id. at
prison official violates the prisoner's Eighth Amendment
protection against cruel and unusual punishment only when the
following two requirements are satisfied. First, the prisoner
must prove that the deprivation was “objectively,
sufficiently serious . . . .” Farmer, 511 U.S.
at 834 (quoting Wilson, 501 U.S. at 298). If the
claim is based on the official's failure to prevent harm,
the plaintiff must prove that he is “incarcerated under
conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm.”
Id. To determine whether the prisoner faced an
excessive risk of serious harm, courts “look at the
facts and circumstances of which the official was aware at
the time [s]he acted or failed to act.” Hartry v.
County of Suffolk, 755 F.Supp.2d 422, 436 (E.D.N.Y.
2010) (internal quotations and citation omitted). Secondly,
the prisoner must prove that the prison official acted with a
“sufficiently culpable state of mind.”
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834 (quoting Wilson,
501 U.S. at 302-03). This requirement is based on the
principle that “only the unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain implicates the Eighth Amendment.”
Id. (quoting Wilson, 501 U.S. at 297). The