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Jones v. Hubert

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 26, 2018

DASHANTE SCOTT JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER HUBERT, Defendant.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Dashante Scott Jones (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and currently incarcerated at Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown, Connecticut, has filed a civil Complaint bringing claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Department of Correction Officer Hubert for violating his constitutional rights, while he was incarcerated at Cheshire Correctional Institution. Compl., ECF No. 1. On June 18, 2018, Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel granted Mr. Jones's motion to proceed in forma pauperis. See Order No. 11.

         For the following reasons, the Complaint is dismissed in part. Mr. Jones's First and Eighth Amendment claims are DISMISSED. The case may proceed on Mr. Jones's Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process claim against Officer Hubert in her individual capacity for damages.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Mr. Jones's Complaint is very difficult to read. As best as the Court can surmise from his statement of facts, Mr. Jones is suing Officer Hubert for filing a false disciplinary report against him. On January 12, 2018, while incarcerated at Cheshire Correctional Institution, Officer Hubert allegedly wrote a disciplinary report against Mr. Jones for standing at his cell door and touching his penis. Compl. ¶ 1. The charge was later dismissed. Id. ¶ 2. Nevertheless, Mr. Jones allegedly was placed in segregation following the incident, until February 23, 2015. Id. The disciplinary report and Mr. Jones's subsequent placement in segregation allegedly caused Mr. Jones mental distress. Id. ¶ 10.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Prisoner civil complaints must be reviewed and any portion 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, must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         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 right to relief. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Conclusory allegations are not sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         Nevertheless, it is well-established that “[p]ro se complaints ‘must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'” Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Mr. Jones appears to sue Officer Hubert for retaliating against him, in violation of his First Amendment right to free speech, subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment, and violating his right to procedural due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. Construed liberally, Mr. Jones's allegations state a plausible Fourteenth Amendment claim, but his First and Eighth Amendment claims are factually insufficient.

         A. First Amendment Retaliation

         Mr. Jones argues that Officer Hubert retaliated against him. The Court finds that he has not stated a claim for retaliation under the First Amendment, and his First Amendment claim for retaliation therefore is dismissed.

         “Prison officials may not retaliate against inmates for exercising their constitutional rights.” Riddick v. Arnone, 11-cv-631 (SRU), 2012 WL 2716355, *6 (D. Conn. Jul. 9, 2012). “To prevail on a First Amendment retaliation claim, [a prisoner] must establish (1) that the speech or conduct at issue was protected, (2) that the [official] took adverse action against the [prisoner], and (3) that there was a causal connection between the protected [conduct] and the adverse action.” Holland v. Goord, 758 F.3d 215, 225 (2d Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). “In the prison context, ‘adverse action' is objectively defined as conduct ‘that would deter a similarly situated individual of ordinary firmness from exercising . . . constitutional rights.'” O'Diah v. Cully, 08-cv-941, 2013 WL 1914434, at *9 (N.D.N.Y. May 8, 2013) (quoting Davis v. Goord, 320 ...


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