United States District Court, D. Connecticut
KEVIN A. MYERS, JR., Plaintiff,
SCOTT SEMPLE, et al., Defendants.
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
C. Hall United States District Judge.
plaintiff, Kevin A. Myers, Jr. (“Myers”),
currently incarcerated at MacDougall-Walker Correctional
Institution in Suffield, Connecticut, has filed a complaint
pro se under section 1983 of title 42 of the United
States Code. See Complaint (“Compl.”)
(Doc. No. 1). Myers sought leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. See Motion for Leave to Proceed
in Forma Pauperis (Doc. No. 2). On May 18, 2018, the
court granted Myers' Motion. See Order Granting
Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (Doc.
Complaint names eight defendants: Commissioner Scott Semple,
Warden William Mulligan, District 1 Administrator Angel
Quiros, Administrative Remedies Coordinator Jessica A.
Bennett, Lieutenant Lizon, Lieutenant Richardson, Officer S.
Ocasio and Warden Maldonado. Myers contends that the
defendants violated his rights in connection with his
Security Risk Group (“SRG”) hearing.
section 1915A of title 28 of the United States Code, the
court must review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any
portion of a 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 (2016). Although
detailed allegations are not required, a complaint must
include sufficient facts to afford a defendant fair notice of
the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and to
demonstrate a right to relief. See Bell Atlantic v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Conclusory
allegations are not sufficient. See 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. 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). However, notwithstanding this
liberal interpretation, a pro se complaint will not
survive dismissal unless the factual allegations meet the
plausibility standard. See, e.g., Fowlkes v.
Ironworkers Local 40, 790 F.3d 378, 387 (2d Cir. 2015).
12, 2016, Myers and his cellmate were escorted to the medical
waiting area at Osborn Correctional Institution while their
cell was searched. See Compl. at ¶ 8. After
nearly three hours, his cellmate was permitted to return to
the cell while Myers was escorted to the Restrictive Housing
Unit. He was placed on Administrative Detention Status
pending investigation on a charge of SRG affiliation.
Id. at ¶ 9. Myers was notified of the charge
later that day. Id. at ¶ 10. On May 13, 2016,
Myers received a disciplinary report. Id. at ¶
11. Officer Ocasio issued the disciplinary report, and
Lieutenant Lizon approved issuance of the report.
Id. at ¶ 25. Myers declined to plead guilty and
requested a hearing. Id. at ¶ 12.
17, 2016, Myers appeared at a disciplinary hearing.
Lieutenant Richardson was the hearing officer. Id.
at ¶ 13. After Myers gave his statement, he was returned
to his cell. Id. at ¶¶ 14-15. Officer
Grimaldi told Myers that Lieutenant Richardson needed more
evidence before making a decision. Id. at ¶ 16
(quoting Officer Grimaldi as saying, “He needs more.
Usually if more evidence doesn't show up, you're
good. But he would like more/to have more.”). On May
25, 2016, Myers went to a second hearing. He affirmed the
statement he gave at the original hearing. Lieutenant
Richardson then told Myers that he was being found guilty of
SRG affiliation based on information from a credible and
reliable source. Id. at ¶ 17. Myers was told
that he could appeal the decision to District Administrator
Quiros. Id. at ¶ 18.
filed an appeal on May 26, 2016. Id. at ¶ 18.
On June 8, 2016, Myers was notified that the appeal was
rejected because it was filed incorrectly. The notice
indicated that Myers could refile the appeal. Id. at
¶ 20. The following day, Myers refiled the appeal.
Id. at ¶ 21. The refiled appeal was rejected as
untimely submitted. Id. at ¶ 23 & Ex. I.
Myers alleges that defendant Bennett failed to retrieve the
refiled appeal from the Administrative Remedies box in a
timely manner. Id. at ¶ 25.
Complaint, Myers alleges that defendants Lizon and Ocasio
issued the disciplinary report without sufficient evidentiary
support, defendants Richardson and Quiros denied him due
process in connection with the disciplinary finding, and
defendant Bennett was negligent in retrieving his
disciplinary appeal. See Compl. at ¶ 25. He
also alleges that defendants Maldonado, Mulligan and Semple
are liable under “municipality” for the actions
of their subordinates. See id. In the section of the
Complaint entitled “Legal Claims, ” Myers
contends that defendants Ocasio, Lizon, Richardson and
Maldonado violated his right to due process for his guilty
finding and placement in the SRG Program, see id. at
¶¶ 25, 28; that the conditions in the SRG Program
violate the Eighth Amendment, see id. at ¶ 28;
that defendant Quiros violated his right to due process and
his First Amendment right to freedom of speech by failing to
address and correct the disciplinary finding on appeal,
see id. at ¶ 29; and that defendant Bennett was
negligent in failing to timely retrieve the appeal, also
violating his rights to due process and freedom of speech,
see id. at ¶ 30. The court considers below
whether the Complaint states cognizable claims for denial of
due process, unconstitutional conditions of confinement,
violation of freedom of speech, negligence, municipal
liability, and supervisory liability.
seeks a declaration that the defendants violated his rights
and an injunction prohibiting the defendants from any
retaliatory acts in the future. See id. at
¶¶ 32-33. Myers also seeks compensatory and
punitive damages. See id. at ¶¶ 34-35. It
is not clear from the Complaint whether Myers asserts these
claims against the defendants in their official or individual
extent that Myers seeks relief against the defendants in
their official capacities, the Eleventh Amendment prohibits
suit against a state as a defendant in federal court, absent
consent of the state or abrogration by Congress. See
Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S.
89, 100 (1984). This immunity extends not only to states
themselves, but also to state agencies or state officers in
their official capacity. See id. Neither exception
to the Eleventh Amendment is applicable here, as there is no
indication that the state has consented to the suit or that
Congress has abrogated the Eleventh Amendment. Ex parte
Young provides that a third exception to the Eleventh
Amendment exists when a party sues a state official to enjoin
an unconstitutional action. See Pennhurst, 465 U.S.
at 102. The Ex parte Young exception, however, does
not apply to actions for monetary damages against state
officials in their official capacities. See Edelman v.
Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 677 (1974). Therefore, to the
extent that Myers seeks monetary relief from the defendants
in their official capacities, such claims are dismissed.
the Ex parte Young exception does not apply to
declaratory relief against state officials in their official
capacities when the relief relates only to past conduct and
there is no ongoing violation of federal law. See Green
v. Mansour, 474 U.S. 64, 74 (1985) (holding that
Eleventh Amendment bars retrospective declaratory relief
against state officials); New York State Corr. Officers
& Police Benev. Ass'n, Inc. v. New York, 911
F.Supp.2d 111, 129 (N.D.N.Y. 2012) (“[D]eclaratory
relief is not permitted under Ex parte Young when it
would serve to declare only past actions in violation of
federal law: retroactive declaratory relief cannot be
properly characterized as prospective.”). As the
request for declaratory relief here relates only to past
actions, any request for declaratory relief against the
defendants in their official capacities is dismissed.
the court considers Myers' claims for damages and for
declaratory relief to be asserted against the defendants in
their individual capacities only.
relief in cases filed by prisoners regarding prison
conditions must be narrowly tailored. “The court shall
not approve any prospective relief unless the court finds
that such relief is narrowly drawn, extends no further than
necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right, and
is the least intrusive means necessary to correct the
violation of the Federal right.” 18 U.S.C. §
3626(a)(1). In this case, Myers identifies one instance where
he contends that his constitutional rights violated.
Nonetheless, the requested injunctive relief would prohibit
any defendant from “any and all retaliatory
actions” against Myers until he is released from
incarceration. See Compl. at ¶ 33.
request for injunctive relief is overbroad and does not
satisfy the requirements of section 3626(a). First, this case
does not include any claims for retaliation, and the
injunction is not necessary to correct the one instance of
alleged constitutional violations that is the subject of this
case. Second, the Department of Correction website shows that
Myers is serving a sentence of 14 years and 6 months, with a
maximum release date of October 2025. Thus, 7 years still remain
to be served on his sentence. Furthermore, the alleged
constitutional violations occurred while Myers was housed at
Osborn Correctional Institution. See Compl. at
¶ 8. Myers is now housed at MacDougall-Walker
Correctional Institution. At least four of the defendants-
Lizon, Richardson, Ocasio, and Maldonado-are employed at
Osborn, not at MacDougall-Walker. See id. at 1. Even
if the relief were related to the constitutional violation at
issue in this case, restricting the actions of the
defendants, some of whom are not at the same correctional
facility as Myers, for seven years is not the least intrusive
means to correct the violation. The request for injunctive
relief is dismissed.
Due Process Claim
alleges that he was denied due process at the disciplinary
hearing that resulted in his placement in the SRG Program.
See Compl. at ¶ 25. Myers names defendants
Richardson, Quiros, ...