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DeAngelis v. Long

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 4, 2018

DEVONIA LONG, et al., Defendants.


          Michael P. Shea United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Jeffery DeAngelis, currently incarcerated at the Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut, filed this case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his amended complaint, he asserts claims for violation of his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act and other constitutional violations based on his disability. In his amended complaint, he names five defendants: ADA Coordinator Devonia Long, Captain Luis Colon, Warden Gary Wright, Captain Griffin, and the Department of Correction.

         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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This requirement applies to all prisoner filings regardless whether the prisoner pays the filing fee.[1] Nicholson v. Lenczewski, 356 F.Supp.2d 157, 159 (D. Conn. 2005) (citing Carr v. Dvorin, 171 F.3d 115 (2d Cir. 1999) (per curiam)). Although detailed allegations are not required, the complaint must include sufficient facts to afford the defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and to demonstrate a plausible right to relief. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Conclusory allegations are not sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         I. Allegations

         On September 19, 2017, the plaintiff was transferred from MacDougall Correctional Institution to Carl Robinson Correctional Institution (“Robinson”). ECF No. 6, ¶ 6. At Robinson, inmates are required to walk down six steps and then walk outside across the prison compound to go to the dining hall. Id., ¶ 7. The plaintiff was unable to walk to the dining hall. The ADA coordinator at Robinson sent the plaintiff to the medical unit when correctional staff informed him of the plaintiff's difficulty. Id., ¶ 8. On September 27, 2017, Dr. Wright examined the plaintiff and ordered him transferred to Osborn Correctional Institution (“Osborn”) because the plaintiff was unable to walk about the compound at Robinson. Id., ¶ 9. The plaintiff was transferred on September 29, 2017. Id., ¶ 10.

         Upon his arrival at Osborn, the plaintiff was assigned to E-block, the housing unit farthest from the dining hall and medical unit. Id., ¶ 11. He was required to walk the length of three football fields to the dining hall, a much further distance than at Robinson. Id., ¶ 12.

         On September 29, 2017, the plaintiff told Captain Colon about his disability and inability to walk. The plaintiff asked to be moved to B-block. Id., ¶ 13. Captain Colon refused the request for transfer and told the plaintiff to deal with the situation. Id., ¶ 14. The plaintiff explained that he has degenerative disc disease with a disc protrusion displacing the S1 nerve, and that he must walk with a cane, but Captain Colon refused to transfer the plaintiff closer to the dining hall. Id., ¶ 15.

         Inmates are permitted twenty minutes to get to the dining hall and eat their meals. Id., ¶ 16. The plaintiff was unable to walk all the way to the dining hall without stopping because his medical condition caused him to experience severe pain when walking. Id., ¶ 17. By the time the plaintiff reached the dining hall, it was closed. He was required to return to his cell without a meal. Id., ¶ 18.

         To enter the shower in E-block, the inmate must step over a 30” wall. The shower contains no railings or mats to prevent inmates from falling. Id., ¶ 19. On October 1, 2017, the plaintiff asked Captain Colon for a handicap shower, explaining that recently he had fallen in a non-handicap shower at another correctional facility. Id., ¶ 20. Captain Colon denied the request and told the plaintiff to stop “being so dramatic.” Id., ¶ 21. On October 8, 2017, the plaintiff submitted a request for accommodation to Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) Coordinator Long seeking permission to use the handicap shower in the medical unit. Id., ¶ 22. On October 10, 2017, the plaintiff submitted two additional requests for accommodation, seeking a single cell and access to recreation without having to negotiate twenty stairs. Id., ¶ 23.

         The plaintiff experiences urinary incontinence as a result of his spinal injuries. This causes him to involuntarily urinate without warning. Id., ¶ 24. Incidents of incontinence have caused problems with several past cellmates and resulted in assaults by two prior cellmates. Id., ¶ 25.

         Although departmental directives provide that a response to a request for reasonable accommodation should be received within two business days, the plaintiff received no response to any of the request for five weeks. Id., ¶¶ 26-27. After five weeks, the plaintiff resubmitted the requests. Id., ¶ 27.

         On November 22, 2017, the plaintiff fell in the E-block shower, slamming his head and elbow. Id., ¶¶ 28-29. After the plaintiff submitted numerous requests, Dr. Breton saw the plaintiff for his injuries on December 4, 2017. Id., ¶ 30. Dr. Breton gave the plaintiff a pass to use the shower in the medical unit. Id., ¶ 31. Dr. Breton told the plaintiff that ADA Coordinator Long had never spoken with him regarding the ADA request. Id., ¶ 32. The plaintiff also spoke to Dr. Breton about his request for a single cell and the danger posed by his medical condition. Id., ¶ 33. Dr. Breton indicated he would speak to Captain Colon and ADA Coordinator Long to try to get the plaintiff assigned to a single cell. Id., ¶ 34.

         The plaintiff wrote to Warden Wright four times complaining that Captain Colon and ADA Coordinator Long failed to act on, or respond to, his ADA requests or address his need to be closer to the medical unit and the dining hall. Warden Wright did not respond. Id., ¶ 35. On November 28, 2017, the plaintiff submitted a grievance regarding the distance from his housing location to the dining hall and medical unit. Id., ¶ 37. On December 18, 2017, the plaintiff again asked Captain Colon to transfer him to B-block. The plaintiff showed Captain Colon the shower pass and complained about the distance he had to walk to shower. Captain Colon refused the request. Id., ¶¶ 38-40. On December 22, 2017, Captain Colon told the plaintiff that the warden had ordered his transfer to B-block because of the grievance. Id., ¶ 41.

         During the time he was in E-block, the plaintiff was unable to go to the dining hall or outside recreation and was required to use the non-handicap E-block shower. Id., ¶ 42. To get outside, inmates had to negotiate twenty steep concrete steps. There were sixteen steps to get to the gym. As a result, disabled inmates in E-block are confined to their cells for 23 hours per day. Id., ¶ 43. Inmates housed in B-block had an additional hour of out-of-cell time. Id., ¶ 44.

         While in B-block, the plaintiff had problems with his cellmate because the plaintiff was unable to control his bladder. Id., ¶ 46. On December 28, 2017, the plaintiff submitted a request to Captain Griffin asking for a cell change. Id., ¶ 47.

         The same day he wrote to ADA Coordinator Long asking about his unanswered requests. Id., ¶ 48. On January 5, 2018, the plaintiff wrote to then Deputy Warden Wright complaining that ADA Coordinator Long refused to address his ADA requests. Id., ¶ 49. On January 8, 2018, ADA Coordinator Long called the plaintiff to her office and told him that he would not get a single cell or permission to shower in the medical unit. The plaintiff informed her that Dr. Breton had already given him a shower pass. Id., ¶ 50. ADA Coordinator Long became angry and told the plaintiff that he would not get a single cell and that the Department of Correction would not build him a ramp to go to recreation. Id., ¶ 51-53. She said that she would look into the plaintiff's claim that Dr. Breton had written to Dr. Farinella and Assistant Attorney General Madeline Melchionne about his request for a single cell. Id., ¶ 54-55. On January 13, 2018, Warden Faneuff approved the ADA request to shower in the medical unit. Id., ¶ 57-58.

         On January 17 and 23, 2018, the plaintiff wrote to Captain Griffin again asking for a cell change because of problems with his cellmate over the plaintiff's urinary incontinence. Id., ¶¶ 59, 61. On January 29, 2018, the plaintiff saw Dr. Wright. Id., ¶ 62. In addition to ordering a follow-up surgical consult with an orthopedic specialist, Dr. Wright indicated that he would follow-up with ADA Coordinator Long regarding the plaintiff's request for a single cell. Id., ¶ 63. On February 2, 2018, the plaintiff informed ADA Coordinator Long that Dr. Wright was aware of his request for a single cell and would be speaking to her. Id., ¶ 64. On February 23, 2018, ADA Coordinator Long indicated that she had emailed Dr. Wright. Id., ¶ 65.

         On February 28, 2018, the plaintiff was incontinent and urinated on himself and his cellmate's sneakers. In response, his cellmate punched the plaintiff in the face and repeatedly kicked him. Id., ¶ 66. On March 9, 2018, Captain Griffin stated that he was moving the plaintiff out of B-block because of the plaintiff's repeated complaints to Warden Wright regarding the denial of a cell change. Id., ¶ 67.

         On March 10, 2018, the plaintiff was ordered to move to C-block. Id., ¶ 68. The plaintiff objected to the move and asked to speak to a lieutenant. Id., ¶ 69. The lieutenant cancelled the order to move to C-block and moved the plaintiff to J-one, a unit closer to the dining hall than C-block. Id., ¶ 70.

         J-one is a dormitory room without walls or privacy. Id., ¶ 72. The bathroom is one room with no stall doors or walls for privacy should the plaintiff be incontinent. Id. Other inmates and staff of both sexes can view inmates using the bathroom. Id., ¶ 73. Dr. Wright ordered that the plaintiff utilize a catheter connected to a leg bag to collect urine. Id., ¶ 74. On March 18, 2018, the plaintiff wrote to Warden Wright complaining about the five-month delay in addressing his ADA request for a single cell. The plaintiff stated that he needed a single call because there was no area in J-one for him to change the catheter in private. Id., ¶ 75. On March 21, 2018, the plaintiff wrote to Captain Colon in his capacity as back-up ADA Coordinator. Id., ¶¶ 76-77.

         On April 6, 2018, the plaintiff met with Health Services Administrator (“HSA”) Richard Furey who noted the plaintiff's need for privacy to change the catheter. HSA Furey also noted that the plaintiff has a pass to shower in the medical unit and that B-block is close to the medical unit. HSA Furey contacted Captain Griffin for permission to return the plaintiff to B-block. Id., ¶¶ 78-79. Captain Griffin was on vacation, so HSA Furey arranged the transfer with Captain Manning and Counselor Supervisor Moore. Id., ¶¶ 80-83. On April 10, 2018, HSA Furey told the plaintiff that he would return to B-block when a bed became available. Id., ¶ 82. The plaintiff returned to B-block on April 11, 2018. His cell was directly across from the medical unit. Id., ¶ 84.

         On April 18, 2018, Captain Griffin returned from vacation. He complained that B-block was not a medical unit and the plaintiff needed to have a job to be housed in B-block. Captain Griffin said that, because the plaintiff was disabled, he would transfer him to another housing unit. Id., ¶ 85. The plaintiff explained that Captain Manning and HSA Furey had moved him to the unit and asked to stay. Id., ¶ 86. Captain Griffin stated that he was not going to make one of his workers share a cell with someone who urinates on himself. Id., ...

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