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Leach v. King

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 27, 2018

KAREEM LEACH, Plaintiff,
v.
LIEUTENANT KING, et al., Defendants.

          RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [Doc. No. 18] AND PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS TO AMEND [Doc. Nos. 38 and 39]

          STEFAN R. UNDERHILL, United States District Judge

         Kareem Leach, currently confined at Garner Correctional Institution, commenced this civil rights action pro se. The defendants named in his amended complaint are Lieutenant King, Counselor Domijan, Correctional Officer Peracchio, and Peter Murphy. All defendants are named in their individual and official capacities. Leach asserts a claim for denial of due process in connection with the disciplinary report that resulted in his designation as a Security Risk Group member and confinement in the Security Risk Group Program. The defendants have filed a motion to dismiss the case in part. In addition to opposing the motion to dismiss, Leach has filed two motions seeking leave to file a second amended complaint. For the reasons that follow, the defendants' motion is granted in part, and the plaintiff's motions to amend are granted.

         I. Standard of Review

         To withstand a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “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.” Id. Legal conclusions and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, ” are not entitled to a presumption of truth. Id. However, when deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept the material facts alleged in the complaint as true, draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiffs, and decide whether it is plausible that the plaintiff has a valid claim for relief. Id. at 678-79 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 555-56; Leeds v. Meltz, 85 F.3d 51, 53 (2d Cir. 1996).

         II. Facts

         The following facts are taken from the operative first amended complaint. In January 2016, Leach was housed in general population at Cheshire Correctional Institution. First Amended Complaint, Doc. No. 20, at 5. On January 15, 2016, he was placed in the restrictive housing unit without any written notification of the reasons for that placement. Id. After seven days, he was issued a disciplinary report by Correctional Officer Kelly and Lieutenant Matuszozak. Id. at 6.

         The disciplinary report charged Leach with affiliation with the Security Risk Group (“SRG”) Crips, and noted that a month-long investigation had shown Leach to be the leader of the Rollin 30 Crips. Id. Leach was found to have used inmate phones to discuss gang-related business including issues with rival gangs and the location of other active Rollin 30 Crips members. Id. The disciplinary report did not reference any physical evidence or witnesses.

         On February 2, 2016, Leach attended a disciplinary hearing before Disciplinary Hearing Officer Lieutenant King. Id. Leach was found guilty and returned to restrictive housing pending transfer. After 17 days, Leach was assigned to Administrative Segregation as an SRG member. Id. Again, no notification of the reasons for the placement was provided. Id. at 6-7. Leach alleges that he will remain in the SRG Program for 24 months. Id. at 7.

         At the disciplinary hearing, Leach's advocate, defendant Domijan, did not assist him in preparing and presenting a defense, obtain a copy of any physical evidence that would be presented at the hearing, obtain witness statements from Leach's identified citizen witnesses, review the physical evidence, request a continuance to enable Leach to obtain witness statements, or review the recordings of Leach's telephone calls. Id. at 7-8. The disciplinary investigator, defendant Peracchio, refused to provide Leach a copy of the evidence that would be presented at the hearing. Id. at 8. Defendant King denied Leach's requests for continuance to obtain witness statements and to review the evidence against him. Id. at 8. Defendant King also failed to provide Leach a written report of the evidence supporting the guilty finding. Id.

         Leach appealed the guilty finding. Id. at 9. He argued that the disciplinary report failed to allege sufficient details to enable him to present an adequate defense and identified all of the issues listed above. Id. Defendant Murphy denied the disciplinary appeal. Id.

         The conditions in the SRG unit at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution are different from the conditions in general population. Id. at 10. Leach is permitted only three showers per week; denied vocational, educational and job training opportunities; denied use of a television or other electronic items; denied some clothing items permitted to general population inmates; confined in his cell 23 or 24 hours per day; denied all recreational opportunities for meaningful exercise; denied congregate religious services; required to wear restraints whenever he leaves his cell; and denied all consideration for release on parole. Id.

         III. Discussion

         The defendants move to dismiss the amended complaint in part on three grounds: (1) allegations regarding restrictive housing placement at Cheshire Correctional Institution fail to state a due process claim because the stay was too brief to implicate a liberty interest; (2) all claims for injunctive relief are too broad and relate to conditions at a different correctional facility from the one in which Leach currently is confined; and (3) the Eleventh Amendment bars Leach's claims for declaratory relief. Mem. of Law Supp. Def's Motion to Dismiss, Doc. No. 28-2, at 1. Leach has filed an objection to the motion to dismiss (Doc. No. 41) as well as two motions to file a second amended complaint (Doc. Nos. 38, 39).

         A. Mot ...


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