United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NO.
W. Thompson, United States District Judge
plaintiff, Quanell Spearman, commenced this civil rights
action pro se. The defendants, Joel Ide, Lou Renzi and Paul
Rousseau, have filed a motion for summary judgment. For the
reasons that follow, the motion for summary judgment is being
granted as to the claims against defendant Ide and denied as
to the claims against defendants Renzi and Rousseau.
motion for summary judgment may be granted only where there
are no issues of material fact in dispute and the moving
party is therefore 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).
Rousseau and Renzi currently work in the Commissary
Warehouse, located at Cheshire Correctional Institution.
Defendant Ide retired from the Department of Correction on
January 1, 2016, and had no involvement in terminating the
plaintiff's employment in the commissary.
to the incident underlying the remaining claims in this
action, the plaintiff had submitted many complaints and
grievances regarding the commissary's refusal to refund
to him the purchase price for an electronic game.
Correctional officials had determined that if inmates wished
to possess the game, the camera, microphone and internet
capability in the game had to be disabled.
October 19, 2016, Commissary Operator Jose Leal told
defendants Rousseau and Renzi that product was missing from
the commissary warehouse. In response to this report,
defendants Rousseau and Renzi viewed the video footage
recorded that day on the stationary surveillance cameras in
the commissary warehouse. Two cameras recorded the incident
from different angles. The footage shows the plaintiff
working at the logging table sorting through the box of
returned commissary items. His task was to determine whether
the items should be discarded or returned to the line for
footage shows the plaintiff throwing certain items in the
trash. Then he takes three bottles of shampoo/conditioner and
one tube of toothpaste, slides his chair to the corner of the
room, and places the items in a box in the corner of the
room. Inmate Parrott helped the plaintiff conceal the items
in the corner of the room.
Rousseau and Renzi determined that the only reason for the
plaintiff to have secreted items in a box while working at
the logging table was so that he could steal the items. They
decided to discipline the plaintiff and inmate Parrott for
their involvement in the theft by firing them from their jobs
in the commissary warehouse.
Commissary Unit Worker Policy provides that any inmate caught
stealing or in possession of unauthorized commissary items
will be terminated and receive a disciplinary report. Because
both inmates had good work history, defendants Rousseau and
Renzi decided to be lenient and not issue disciplinary
reports to the plaintiff and inmate Parrott.
their employment with the Department of Correction,
defendants Rousseau and Renzi have always fired inmates
caught stealing. They have never knowingly rehired these
inmates to work in the commissary.
are three claims remaining in this case, federal claims for
retaliation and denial of equal protection and a state law
defamation claim. In the April 11, 2017 Initial Review Order,
the court dismissed the claims for deprivation of property
and loss of a prison job. ECF No. 8.