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Vicente v. Department of Corrections

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 10, 2018

LUIS VICENTE, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, et al., Defendants.

          RULING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NO. 61]

          Alvin W. Thompson United States District Judge

         The plaintiff, Luis Vicente, commenced this civil rights action pro se. The remaining defendants, Giuliana Mudano, Scott Salius, Matthew Prior and Angela Walters, have moved for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the motion for summary judgment is being granted.

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion for summary judgment may be granted only where there are no issues of material fact in dispute and, based on those material facts, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56(a), Fed. R. Civ. P.; Redd v. New York Div. of Parole, 678 F.3d 166, 173-74 (2d Cir. 2012). “When the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party can satisfy its burden at summary judgment by ‘pointing out to the district court' the absence of a genuine dispute with respect to any essential element of its opponent's case: ‘a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.'” Cohane v. National Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 612 Fed.Appx. 41, 43 (2d Cir. 2015) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). Once the moving party meets this burden, the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Wright v. Goord, 554 F.3d 255, 266 (2d Cir. 2009). He cannot “‘rely on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation' but ‘must come forward with specific evidence demonstrating the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact.'” Robinson v. Concentra Health Servs., 781 F.3d 42, 34 (2d Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). He must present such evidence as would allow a jury to find in his favor in order to defeat the motion for summary judgment. Graham v. Long Island R.R., 230 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 2000). Although the court reads pro se papers liberally and interprets them to raise the strongest arguments they suggest, Willey v. Kirkpatrick, 801 F.3d 51, 62 (2d Cir. 2015), “unsupported allegations do not create a material issue of fact” and are insufficient to oppose a properly supported motion for summary judgment. Weinstock v. Columbia Univ., 224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000).

         II. FACTS[1]

         On January 24, 2017, the plaintiff was a pretrial detainee confined in the Walker building at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution (“Walker”). The plaintiff was confined in cell B1-11. The plaintiff, along with two other inmates, covered his cell door window to protest the manner in which the Administrative Segregation program is administered at Walker. The inmates were persuaded to remove the covering. All three inmates were issued disciplinary reports for interfering with safety and security. The plaintiff pled guilty to the charge.

         After receiving the disciplinary reports, the three inmates again covered their cell door windows. Correctional supervisors, medical staff and mental health staff verbally attempted to persuade the plaintiff to remove the covering from the window and comply with an order to be handcuffed and removed from his cell. The verbal intervention lasted for approximately one hour. The verbal intervention was unsuccessful.

         When the plaintiff did not comply with a final order to be handcuffed and exit the cell, a chemical agent was deployed into the cell. After the chemical agent was re-deployed, the plaintiff left his cell voluntarily. He was issued a disciplinary report for flagrant disobedience. He pled guilty to the report.

         Defendant Salius had no further interaction with the plaintiff after 12:45 p.m. on January 24, 2017, and had no involvement in subsequent events.

         The plaintiff was placed on in-cell restraints in cell B1-31. The plaintiff broke the restraints and smashed the cell door window. He pled guilty to that offense. The plaintiff was moved to Restrictive Housing Unit cell 6 and placed on soft full stationary restraints. Shortly thereafter, at 3:45 p.m., the plaintiff slipped his hands free of the soft restraints. The plaintiff received a disciplinary report for security tampering. He pled guilty.

         Defendant Lieutenant Prior determined that the plaintiff should be placed in metal mechanical full stationary restraints. The plaintiff was moved to Restrictive Housing Unit cell 7 for this purpose. At 3:47 p.m., before he was moved to cell 7, the plaintiff asked to use the bathroom. Defendant Prior denied permission because of the plaintiff's disruptive behavior.

         As the metal restraints were applied, the plaintiff threatened to file a lawsuit against defendant Prior for placing him in the metal restraints. The plaintiff made conflicting statements about his need to urinate, claiming both that he had urinated on himself and then that he needed to use the bathroom. When the plaintiff stated that he needed to urinate at 3:53 p.m., defendant Prior told him that he would have a bathroom break in two hours.

         At defendant Prior's request, defendant Nurse Walters checked the restraints to confirm that there was proper circulation. She documented restraint checks every fifteen minutes for the entire time the plaintiff was confined in metal restraints. Adequate circulation was found on all but one check. At the 4:45 p.m. check, defendant Walters informed defendant Prior that the left wrist restraint should be loosened. Defendant Prior ordered a correctional officer to loosen that restraint.

         At 6:00 p.m., defendant Prior determined that the plaintiff had urinated on himself. He ordered that the plaintiff be given clean clothes and directed that the plaintiff be placed on in-cell restraints. The plaintiff also received a new mattress, a new blanket and ...


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