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Jacques v. Department of Corrections

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 25, 2018

JEAN JACQUES, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, et al., Defendants

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

          Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Jean Jacques is a prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction. He has filed a complaint pro se and in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Department of Correction and several correctional officials alleging that they acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of his Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. After initial review, I conclude that plaintiff has not alleged any plausible claims for relief against any of the named defendants and will therefore dismiss the complaint.

         Background

         On July 11, 2015, plaintiff fell off of the top bunk in his cell at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center. He hit his head on the floor and was rendered unable to speak as a result. The correctional officer on duty (not named as a defendant) called the medical unit, and plaintiff was brought there for treatment. Doc. #1 at 10 (¶ 10).

         While plaintiff was in the medical unit, a lieutenant attempted to discuss the incident with plaintiff, but he was unable to speak. Subsequently, Nurses John and Jane Doe entered the medical unit to provide care for plaintiff. They started “pinching and rubbing” plaintiff's body, and Nurse John Doe repeatedly rubbed his ring on the plaintiff's chest area in an attempt to make him speak. Plaintiff describes their behavior as “unprofessional and aggressive.” Nurse Jane Doe repeatedly told Nurse John Due to be careful when rubbing plaintiff's chest area to avoid injuring him. The nurses eventually realized that plaintiff was unable to speak, and they notified a doctor of plaintiff's inability to speak and his high blood pressure level. Ibid. (¶¶ 11-13).

         On July 13, 2015, plaintiff was scheduled to go to court. An unidentified correctional officer (not named as a defendant) entered plaintiff's cell in the medical in-patient unit, yelled at him, and sprayed a chemical agent in his eyes, ears, mouth, and all over his body. The officer then pressed plaintiff's head against the floor, causing plaintiff to once again hit his head on the floor. The officer pressed his knees into plaintiff's back and falsely stated that plaintiff was resisting. Plaintiff tried to open his eyes, but they were burning, and he was in excruciating pain. The officer refused to let plaintiff wash the chemical agent out of his eyes and off of his skin. Id. at 10-11 (¶¶ 14-15).[1]

         Later that day, plaintiff was taken to court without being given the opportunity to wash the chemical agent off of his body. He was therefore unable to open his eyes or speak during the court proceedings. During the nearly three-hour return trip back to the prison, the transporting officers (not named as defendants) turned on the heat in the vehicle, which caused plaintiff's body and eyes to burn. Plaintiff did not receive any medical attention for his injuries upon returning to the facility, but was instead placed in a cell in the mental health unit without any clothing. Id. at 11 (¶¶ 16-19)

         Later, plaintiff was placed in the segregation unit for one month where he was denied showers, toilet paper, writing paper, envelopes, pencils, and medication. As a result of being denied essential hygiene products, plaintiff developed an infection in his mouth which caused him to lose two of his teeth. Ibid. (¶¶ 20-21).

         After one month in segregation, plaintiff was transferred to another facility. There, he continued to suffer from constant headaches and vomiting. He communicated with the nurses and doctors at the facility and requested x-rays and a CAT scan, but his requests were denied. Plaintiff states that he was not treated for any of his medical issues.

         Plaintiff has filed this lawsuit against the Connecticut Department of Correction, Commissioner Scott Semple (the Commissioner of the Department of Correction), Anthony Santiago (the warden of Corrigan-Radgowski), Mary Ellen Castro (alleged to be “in charge” of UConn's correctional managed health care system), Nurse John Doe, and Nurse Jane Doe. He has not named as defendants any of the correctional officers whom he alleges sprayed him with mace, transported him to court, or subjected him to segregation and denied him medical care while there.

         Discussion

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Court must review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, that 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. In reviewing a pro se complaint, the Court must assume the truth of the allegations, and interpret them liberally to raise the strongest arguments they suggest. Ultimately, however, a complaint must allege enough facts-as distinct from legal conclusions-to establish plausible grounds for relief. See generally Nielsen v. Rabin, 746 F.3d 58, 62-63 (2d Cir. 2014) (describing rules of pleading review that apply to pro se complaints).

         Sovereign immunity

         I will dismiss plaintiff's claim against the Connecticut Department of Correction because a state agency like the Department of Correction is not a person subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, ...


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