United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
Charles S. Haight, Jr. Senior United States District Judge
Plaintiff, Jesse Campbell, III, is currently incarcerated at
Northern Correctional Institution (“Northern”).
He has filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
District Administrator Angel Quiros, Commissioner Scott
Semple, Wardens William Mulligan and Faneuff (or "Fane
Duff"), Unit Manager Gregorio Robles, and Deputy
Commissioners Cheryl Capelak (or Cepelak) and Monica Rinaldi.
The Court has subjected the pleading to the mandatory
statutory review. For the reasons set forth below, the
complaint will be dismissed in part.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
U.S.C. § 1915A directs federal district courts to
consider all prisoner civil complaints against governmental
actors, and dismiss any portion of the complaint that
"is frivolous, malicious, or 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." § 1915A(b)(1), (2).
district court's sua sponte dismissal of a
prisoner's complaint under § 1915A is reviewed
de novo by the court of appeals. Where the district
court has dismissed for failure to state a claim, the Second
Circuit has said that "we accept all of plaintiff's
factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw
inferences from those allegations in the light most favorable
to the plaintiff. We must reverse a district court's
dismissal pursuant to § 1915A whenever a liberal reading
of the complaint gives any indication that a valid claim
might be stated." Larkin v. Savage, 318 F.3d
138, 139 (2d Cir. 2003) (citations and internal quotation
district court level, the district judge's § 1915A
review of whether a complaint "fails to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted" is guided by the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as interpreted by Supreme
Court and Second Circuit decisions whose principles have
become familiar. A pro se complaint is adequately
pleaded if its allegations, liberally construed, could
"conceivably give rise to a viable claim."
Phillips v. Girdich, 408 F.3d 124, 130 (2d Cir.
Court must accept as true all well-pleaded and non-conclusory
factual matters alleged in a complaint, although a complaint
may not survive unless its factual recitations state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face. See, e.g.,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Mastafa
v. Chevron Corp., 770 F.3d 170, 177 (2d Cir. 2014). It
is well-established that pro 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). In
Larkin the Second Circuit took care to say, in the
§ 1915A context: "We will not affirm the dismissal
of a complaint unless it appears beyond doubt, even when the
complaint is liberally construed, that the plaintiff can
prove no set of facts that would entitle him to relief."
318 F.3d at 139 (citation omitted).
Court will apply the foregoing standards in conducting its
initial review of any claims asserted by Campbell. The Court
begins with a recitation of the factual allegations contained
in the pleading.
factual allegations, accepted as true only for the purposes
of this Order, are taken from the numbered paragraphs at
pages 2-16 of the Complaint [Doc. 1], as well as the Exhibits
to that filing.
March 29, 2010, Plaintiff was confined in a cell on death row
at Northern. ¶ 13. On that day Captain Jason
Cahill was involved in an altercation with another death row
inmate. ¶ 12, Ex. A. Following the altercation, prison
officials at Northern imposed a lockdown of the death row
unit. ¶ 14. Captain Cahill supervised a strip search of
Plaintiff as well as a search of Plaintiff s cell and the
confiscation of items of Plaintiff s personal property.
the lock down, prison staff placed Plaintiff on full
restraint status. ¶¶ 14-15. Under this status,
prison officials placed handcuffs, leg shackles and tether
chain around Plaintiffs waist every time he left his cell.
Id. On April 5, 2010, Defendant Quiros, who was then
Warden of Northern, implemented an indefinite restraint
policy regarding death row inmates. ¶ 17; Ex. A. The
policy required death row inmates to be placed either in
handcuffs, leg shackles and a tether chain or just handcuffs
behind their backs every time prison staff escorted them from
their cells. Ex. A.
hearing was held before prison officials imposed the new
restraint status on Plaintiff. ¶ 19. That status is
indefinite. Id. There is no process pursuant to
which Plaintiff may challenge the restraint status or be
relieved from the status. ¶ 20. After implementation of
the restraint policy, prison officials installed
"traps" in the doors of the dayrooms in the death
row unit to enable officers to remove inmates' handcuffs
while the inmates used the dayrooms. ¶ 21.
to the imposition of the new restraint policy, Plaintiff held
a job as a tierman/janitor in the death row unit, for which
he received "Level Two" pay, or $1.25 per day.
¶¶ 28-30. After the imposition of the restraint
policy, he was removed from his tierman position .
¶¶ 27-28. Plaintiffs tierman job was
replaced with "Level One" pay of $0.75 per day, for
doing "nothing." ¶ 30. Defendants assigned
Plaintiff a do-nothing job, for which he was compensated at
Level One, because Defendants believe they are required, by
Connecticut law, to provide work assignments for death row
inmates whose cases remain on direct appeal. ¶ 31.
Plaintiffs appeal of his conviction and sentence of death
remains pending. ¶ 32.
has filed grievances regarding the change in his job
assignment and the imposition of the restraint policy, but
prison officials have denied the grievances. ¶ 37; Ex.
E. Other death row inmates have been allowed to continue
their out-of-cell jobs. Inmate Joseph Rizzo operates the book
cart and inmate Richard Reynolds works as a barber. ¶
the six months prior to the filing of this complaint, the
State of Connecticut resentenced three other death row
inmates, Russell Peeler, Jr., Sedgwick Cobb and Richard
Reynolds, pursuant to the abolition of the death penalty in
Connecticut. ¶¶ 38-39, 42-43. After resentencing,
Peeler, Cobb, and Reynolds were no longer subject to the
out-of-cell restraint policy. ¶ 38. In addition, prison
officials permitted Peeler, Cobb and Reynolds to engage in
recreational activities for two extra hours a week and to use
all of the equipment in the prison gym. They were also
eligible for prison jobs that pay a higher wage. ¶¶
PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS FOR RELIEF
contends that the Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment
right to freedom from cruel and unusual punishment and his
Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection and due
process, as well as his purported right to employment under
C.G.S. § 18-10a, and his right to equal protection under
the Connecticut Constitution. He seeks declaratory and
injunctive relief and monetary damages.
Eighth Amendment Claim
alleges that the requirement that he be placed in restraints
every time he leaves his cell, and the refusal of prison
officials to allow him to work, constitute punishment in
violation of the Eighth Amendment bar on cruel and unusual
Supreme Court has held that prisoners have no right to be
housed in comfortable surroundings. See Rhodes v.
Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1980) (harsh or restrictive
conditions are part of the penalty criminal offenders pay for
their crimes). A prisoner's conditions of confinement,
however, must meet "minimal civilized measures of
life's necessities." Wilson v. Seiter, 501
U.S. 294, 298 (1991). This means that prison officials are
required to provide for inmates' basic human needs -
"e.g., food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and
reasonable safety." DeShaney v. Winnebago Cty.
Dep't of Social Servs., 489 U.S. 189, 200 (1989).
state an Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claim, an
inmate must establish first, that a prison official denied
him "the minimal civilized measure of life's
necessities." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
834 (1994) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
Second, the inmate must show that the official acted with
subjective "deliberate indifference to [his] health or
safety" because the official knew that the inmate
"face[d] a substantial risk of serious harm and
disregard[ed] that risk by failing to take reasonable
measures to abate it." Id. at 834, 847
(internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
has not alleged that the requirement that he be placed in
handcuffs and leg restraints every time he leaves his cell
deprives him of one of life's necessities. He concedes
that he is not confined in restraints when he is in his cell
or when he spends time in the dayroom. In addition, the
notice attached to the complaint regarding the restraint
policy states that restraints will be removed when an ...