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Young v. Felicano

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

February 22, 2018

JAVON YOUNG, Plaintiff,


          Michael P. Shea United States District Judge

         The plaintiff, Javon Young, currently resides at Watkinson House in Hartford, Connecticut. He has filed a civil rights complaint against Warden Felicano, Jr., Correctional Officer Pataky, Lieutenants Dawson, Luise, Cox and Russell, Counselor Davis and Mental Health Unit Worker Lowhart.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the court must review prisoner civil complaints against governmental actors and “dismiss ... any portion of [a] 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.” Id. This requirement applies both where the inmate has paid the filing fee and where he is proceeding in forma pauperis. See Carr v. Dvorin, 171 F.3d 115 (2d Cir. 1999) (per curiam). Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         Although detailed allegations are not required, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A complaint that includes only “‘labels and conclusions, ' ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action' or ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement, ' ” does not meet the facial plausibility standard. Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557 (2007)). Although courts still have an obligation to interpret “a pro se complaint liberally, ” the complaint must still include sufficient factual allegations to meet the standard of facial plausibility. See Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).

         On September 27, 2016, at New Haven Correctional Center, Correctional Officer Pataky called the plaintiff “Special Corrections Officer Young” in a very loud voice so that other inmates could hear him. See Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶ 1. The plaintiff claims that other inmates began to call him a snitch after that incident and he felt his safety was in danger. See Id. at ¶ 2.

         On or about September 30, 2016, the plaintiff informed Counselor Davis that he felt he was in danger. See Id. at ¶ 3. On or about October 3, 2016, someone stole the plaintiff's commissary items from his cell. See Id. at ¶ 4.

         On October 20, 2017, the plaintiff met with Mental Health Unit Worker Lowhart and informed her that his commissary items had been stolen and that he felt he was in danger. See Id. at ¶ 5. Approximately two weeks later, the plaintiff informed Counselor Davis, Mental Health Unit Worker Lowhart and Lieutenants Dawson, Luise, Cox and Russell that he feared he might be assaulted by other inmates because he had been labeled as a snitch. He asked to be moved from his housing unit. See Id. at ¶ 7.

         On November 4, 2016, Inmate Fennelly attacked the plaintiff while he was asleep in his cell. See Id. at ¶ 8. The plaintiff suffered a bloody nose, two broken teeth and a black eye. See Id. at ¶ 9. He continues to experience headaches, sensitivity to light, blurry vision, damage to his jaw and anxiety. See Id. at ¶¶ 9-10. Inmate Fennelly informed prison officials that he had assaulted the plaintiff because he thought the plaintiff was “a rat.” See Id. at ¶ 11.

         I. Official Capacity Claims

         For relief, the plaintiff seeks monetary damages. To the extent that he seeks monetary damages from the defendants in their official capacities, those claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159 (1985) (Eleventh Amendment, which protects the state from suits for monetary relief, also protects state officials sued for damages in their official capacity); Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 342 (1979) (Section 1983does not override a state's Eleventh Amendment immunity). All claims for monetary damages against the defendants in their official capacities are dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(2).

         II. Individual Capacity Claims - Warden Felicano, Jr.

         The plaintiff lists the warden in the caption and description of the parties, but does not otherwise refer to the warden in the body of the complaint except to state that the assault could have been prevented if the warden had made and enforced policies to keep him safe. See Compl. at ¶12. It is evident that the plaintiff has included the warden as a defendant due to his supervisory capacity. To recover money damages under section 1983, a plaintiff must show that each defendant was personally involved in the constitutional violation or violations. See Colon v. Coughlin, 58 F.3d 865, 873 (2d Cir. 1995). Supervisory officials cannot be held liable under section 1983 solely for the acts of their subordinates. See Ayers v. Coughlin, 780 F.2d 205, 210 (2d Cir. 1985).

         A plaintiff may show personnel involvement by demonstrating one or more of the following criteria: (1) the defendant actually and directly participated in the alleged unconstitutional acts; (2) the defendant failed to remedy a wrong after being informed of the wrong through a report or appeal; (3) the defendant created or approved a policy or custom that sanctioned objectionable conduct which rose to the level of a constitutional violation or allowed such a policy or custom to continue; (4) the defendant was grossly negligent in supervising the correctional officers who committed the constitutional violation; and (5) the defendant failed to take action in response to information regarding the occurrence of unconstitutional conduct. See Colon, 58 F.3d at 873 (citation omitted). In addition, plaintiff must demonstrate an affirmative causal link between the inaction of the supervisory official and his injury. See Poe v. Leonard, 282 F.3d 123, 140 (2d Cir. 2002).

         In Iqbal, the Supreme Court found that a supervisor can be held liable only “through the official's own individual actions.” Id. at 676. This decision arguably casts doubt on the continued viability of some of the categories for supervisory liability. The Second Circuit, however, has not revisited the criteria for supervisory liability following Iqbal. See Rispardo v. Carlone, 770 F.2d 97, 117 (2d Cir. 2014) (“[w]e have not yet determined the contours of the supervisory liability test . . . after Iqbal”); Grullon v. City of New Haven, 720 F.3d 133, 139 (2d Cir. 2013) (noting that decision in Iqbal “may have heightened the requirements for showing a supervisor's personal involvement with respect to certain constitutional violations, ” but finding it unnecessary to reach the impact of Iqbal on the personal ...

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