United States District Court, D. Connecticut
VICTOR M. RIVERA, Plaintiff,
CORRECTION OFFICER HACKETT, et al. Defendants.
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
Michael P. Shea United States District Judge.
14, 2018, the plaintiff, Victor M. Rivera, an inmate
currently confined at the Carl Robinson Correctional
Institution in Enfield, Connecticut, brought a civil action
pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against twelve
employees of the Connecticut Department of Correction
(“DOC”) for violating his rights under the Eighth
and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution
while he was confined at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional
Institution (“MWCI”) in Suffield, Connecticut and
Osborn Correctional Institution (“Osborn”) in
Somers, Connecticut. Compl. (ECF No. 1). The twelve
defendants are Correction Officer Hackett, Captain Burgos,
Captain Rivera, Captain Black, Lieutenant Jasmin, Correction
Officer Williams, Lieutenant Michaud, Correction Officer
Griffin, Correction Officer Coro, Lieutenant Charter, Captain
John Doe, and Lieutenant Perez. The plaintiff seeks damages
against the defendants in their individual capacities. On
July 10, 2018, this Court granted the plaintiff's motion
to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 10). For the
following reasons, the complaint is dismissed without
Standard of Review
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, 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. 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 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.” Bell Atlantic, 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).
approximately 4:30 p.m. on October 19, 2017, the plaintiff
was sweeping the floor in the dayroom at MWCI. Compl. ¶
1. MWCI is a “level-4” facility, but the
plaintiff had always been a “level-3” inmate and,
therefore, should not have been confined at MWCI.
Id. at ¶ 14. While working, he became involved
in a verbal altercation with another inmate, Tyrone Blash.
Id. at ¶ 2. After arguing with Blash, the
plaintiff returned to his single cell. Id. at ¶
p.m., Blash exited his cell and approached the
plaintiff's cell with another inmate named Bruce. Compl.
¶¶ 4-5. When he reached the plaintiff's cell,
Blash continued arguing with the plaintiff while Bruce waited
by the cell door looking for any correctional staff.
Id. at ¶ 5. After a couple minutes of arguing,
Blash stepped into the plaintiff's cell, pulled a shank
from his pocket, and attacked the plaintiff while Bruce
remained by the door as “the lookout.”
Id. at ¶ 6. Blash stabbed the plaintiff on the
side of his head and slashed his neck. Id. at ¶
7. When the plaintiff tried to block the attack, Blash cut
him on his left arm and chin. Id. The plaintiff was
ultimately able to grab Blash's arm, which was holding
the shank, and “bull rush” Blash out of his
cell. Id. at ¶ 8. The struggle continued in the
dayroom where officers called a “code blue” and
separated and restrained the two inmates. Id. at
¶¶ 9-10. The plaintiff lost a substantial amount of
blood in his cell and in the dayroom. Id. at ¶
the attack, the plaintiff was escorted to the medical unit
and then sent to UCONN hospital, where he received three
staples for his head laceration. Compl. ¶ 11. When he
returned to MWCI, Correction Officer Hackett issued him a
disciplinary report for fighting. Id. at ¶ 12.
Hackett's description of the incident was not truthful.
Id. The plaintiff was not given a hearing on the
charge and was placed in a restrictive housing unit
(“RHU”) for ten days. Id. at
¶¶ 13, 17.
his confinement in the RHU, the plaintiff was transferred to
Osborn and housed in a “5x9 cell” with another
inmate. Compl. ¶ 15. There, he requested evaluation from
the mental health unit, but a staff member told him that, if
he sought treatment, his mental health score would be
increased. Id. at ¶ 19. The plaintiff
interpreted the statement as a threat. Id.
plaintiff claims that the defendants violated his Eighth
Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment by
failing to protect him from the assault by Blash, which
resulted in serious injuries. See Compl.
¶¶ 18-19. He also claims that the failure of the
defendants to grant him a hearing on the disciplinary report
for fighting and subsequent placement in the RHU violated his
Fourteenth Amendment right to procedural due process.
Id. at ¶ 17. The plaintiff's claim
regarding the lack of mental health treatment at Osborn is
vague, but, construing the allegations liberally, it appears
he is attempting to state a claim that Osborn officials
denied him adequate mental health care, in violation of the
Eighth Amendment. See Id. at ¶ 19. As shown
below, however, the case cannot proceed on any of these
Eighth Amendment Failure to Protect
Eighth Amendment requires prison officials to “take
reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of . . .
inmates.” Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517,
526-27 (1984). “[P]rison officials have a duty . . . to
protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other
prisoners.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
833 (1994) (internal quotations omitted). However, not every
injury suffered by one prisoner from another prisoner
establishes constitutional liability on the part of the
prison official. Id. at 834.
prison official violates the prisoner's Eighth Amendment
protection against cruel and unusual punishment only when the
following two requirements are satisfied. First, the prisoner
must prove that the deprivation was “objectively,
sufficiently serious . . . .” Farmer, 511 U.S.
at 834 (quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298
(1991)). If the claim is based on the official's failure
to prevent harm, the plaintiff must prove that he is
“incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial
risk of serious harm.” Id. To determine
whether the prisoner faced an excessive risk of serious harm,
courts “look at the facts and circumstances of which
the official was aware at the time [s]he acted or failed to
act.” Hartry v. County of Suffolk, 755
F.Supp.2d 422, 436 (E.D.N.Y. 2010) (internal quotations and
citation omitted). Secondly, the prisoner must prove that the
prison official acted with a “sufficiently culpable
state of mind.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834
(quoting Wilson, 501 U.S. at 302-03). This
requirement is based on the principle that “only the
unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain implicates the
Eighth Amendment.” Id. (quoting
Wilson, 501 U.S. at 297). ...