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Tuttle v. Semple

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 6, 2018

DAVID TUTTLE, Plaintiff,
SCOTT SEMPLE, et al., Defendants.


          Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff David Tuttle has filed this pro se complaint that principally alleges that he was denied access to the courts and faced harassment and retaliation for filing grievances and complaints against various prison officials. After an initial review, I conclude that the complaint should proceed on plaintiff's retaliation claim against Officer Johnson and be dismissed as to the remaining defendants and claims.


         Plaintiff has filed this lawsuit against the Connecticut Department of Correction's Commissioner Scott Semple, Warden William Faneuff, District Administrator Edward Maldonado, Counselor Supervisor Davis, Counselor Magiafico, and Correction Officer Johnson.[*]

         Plaintiff was originally convicted and sentenced in Massachusetts before being transferred in 2012 to Connecticut in accordance with an arrangement under an interstate corrections compact. In late January 2017, he was transferred from the Corrigan Correctional Institution to Northern Correctional Institution (NCI) as a result of an adverse decision in a disciplinary hearing. On January 16, 2018, plaintiff filed a notice of change of address to a jail facility in Massachusetts. The allegations of this complaint relate solely to the treatment he received while at NCI.

         While plaintiff was housed in NCI, Counselor Magiafico and Counselor Supervisor Davis confiscated his legal papers and refused to provide him with photocopies, writing paper, and legal envelopes. Plaintiff composed three legal motions related to his post-convictions proceedings in Massachusetts. On March 24, 2017, he gave those motions to Counselor Magiafico and asked that they be photocopied. Magiafico denied plaintiff's request and never returned his written motions. Thereafter, plaintiff rewrote all three motions. On March 30, he again asked Magiafico to photocopy them and requested legal envelopes. Once again, Magiafico confiscated the papers and refused plaintiff's requests for photocopies or legal envelopes. After his papers were confiscated for the second time, plaintiff filed several complaints, request forms, and letters to Warden Faneuff, Officer Johnson, and Commissioner Semple regarding Magiafico's behavior. Most of these complaints were ignored. Doc. #1 at 5-7 (¶¶ 12-16).

         On May 24, 2017, plaintiff requested legal envelopes and photocopies of other legal motions, letters, and court transcripts that he intended to send to the Superior Court in Springfield, Massachusetts. His papers were never returned, and he was “denied” by Counselor Supervisor Davis. Plaintiff then filed two administrative grievances against Counselor Magiafico and Counselor Supervisor Davis, claiming that they were denying him legal envelopes and photocopies of legal papers, confiscating his legal papers, and preventing him from accessing the Massachusetts courts. Warden Faneuff denied both grievances. Plaintiff filed two appeals to District Administrator Maldonado, both of which were denied. Since April 2017, plaintiff has filed approximately eleven grievance appeals. Officer Johnson, the grievance coordinator, interfered and presented deliberately presented false and misleading information and prevented most of the grievances from being processed. Id. at 7-8 (¶¶ 17-20).

         On June 22, 2017, plaintiff again gave Counselor Magiafico legal paperwork to photocopy. Counselor Magiafico denied plaintiff's request and did not return the original documents. Plaintiff filed another grievance against Magiafico on August 15, 2017, for staff misconduct, harassment, retaliation, and denial of access to the courts. Warden Faneuff denied the grievance, and the appeal was also denied. Id. at 8-9 (¶¶ 21-23).

         Plaintiff explained to Counselor Supervisor Davis on several occasions that she must make photocopies of his legal paperwork because they were required to support his legal motions, legal pleadings, and appeals to the Freedom of Information Commission. He also wrote letters to Davis, Semple, Faneuff, and Magiafico explaining that he had pending post-conviction criminal matters in Massachusetts and that he needed access to legal envelopes, law books, and photocopying. Defendants told him to contact the Inmate Legal Aid Program for assistance. Plaintiff explained to those defendants that the Inmate Legal Aid Program does not assist inmates with criminal matters and that their actions were violating the Interstate Corrections Compact between Massachusetts and Connecticut. As a result of all of the defendants' actions, plaintiff “lost any chance he had of even being able to file his three post-conviction motions in a timely manner, and [he] suffered actual injury.” Id. at 9-10 (¶¶ 24-28).

         Plaintiff asked Officer Johnson for copies of grievances that he had filed while housed at Corrigan Correctional Institution that he believed were not responded to within the proper time frame. Officer Johnson refused to send him copies and claimed that all his grievances were acted upon, responded to, and had already been given to plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that these claims were false. Plaintiff therefore lacked the necessary attachments required to file administrative appeals, and Officer Johnson refused to process the appeals. This, in turn, prevented plaintiff from exhausting his administrative remedies as to those appeals. Id. at 11 (¶¶ 30-32).

         Plaintiff filed several grievances, and Officer Johnson did not provide plaintiff with the receipts or return the original paperwork or provide copies of the paperwork or supporting attachments. Plaintiff sent letters to Semple, Faneuff, and Maldonado about Johnson's behavior, but they never took any action in response. Id. at 12 (¶¶ 33-34).

         On June 8, 2017, Officer Johnson entered plaintiff's cell while plaintiff was in the shower and confiscated several legal motions and letters. Plaintiff submitted an inmate request form to the unit manager explaining what Johnson had done. The unit manager responded several days later stating that plaintiff's claim could not be substantiated. Plaintiff also filed a grievance against Johnson, but Warden Faneuff denied the grievance and stated that Johnson did not remove anything from plaintiff's cell. Administrator Maldonado subsequently denied plaintiff's appeal from Faneuff's decision. Id. at 12-13 (¶¶ 35-38).

         On July 3, 2017, Johnson returned to plaintiff's cell and attempted to push some papers through his cell door. He told plaintiff that if he filed any more grievances he was going to throw them in the trash and make sure that plaintiff did not get any receipts for them. On August 22, 2017, Johnson once again entered plaintiff's cell while plaintiff was showering and stole a pair of headphones and several copies of grievances and legal letters. Plaintiff filed a request form and a grievance but never received a response. He believes that Semple, ...

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