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Anderson v. Quiros

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 2, 2018

ANGEL QUIROS, et al. Defendants.


          Michael P. Shea United States District Judge.

         On July 2, 2018, the plaintiff, Victor C. Anderson, an inmate currently confined at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution (“MWCI”) in Suffield, Connecticut, brought a civil action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for damages against five employees of the Connecticut Department of Correction: District Administrator Angel Quiros, Lieutenant Chevalur, Correction Officer Bennett, Disciplinary Hearing Officer John Doe 1, and Disciplinary Investigator John Doe 2. Compl. (ECF No. 1). The complaint asserted a claim against Bennett under the Eighth Amendment for failing to protect the plaintiff from harm and a claim against Doe 1 and Quiros under the Fourteenth Amendment for violating his right to procedural due process. See Id. at 4. The Court dismissed the complaint without prejudice for failure to state a plausible claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A against any of the defendants. Initial Review Order (ECF No. 8). However, the Court permitted the plaintiff one opportunity to file an amended complaint that cured the factual deficiencies of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment claims as explained in its Initial Review Order. Id. at 9.

         On July 26, 2018, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint against Bennett, Doe 1, and Quiros.[1] Am. Compl. (ECF No. 9). However, as shown below, the allegations in his amended complaint still fail to state plausible claims under the Eighth or Fourteenth Amendments. Therefore, the Court will dismiss the amended complaint.

         I. Standard of Review

         Under 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).

         II. Amended Factual Allegations

         Around 7:00 p.m. on December 17, 2017, the plaintiff exited his cell and entered the kitchenette area at MWCI to make a cup of coffee. Am. Compl. ¶ 1. While standing in the kitchenette, another inmate asked the plaintiff to leave the area so that he could cut another inmate's hair. Id. at ¶ 2. He also asked the plaintiff to watch Correction Officer Bennett. Id. The plaintiff agreed and moved to a nearby railing to chat with another inmate named David Kent. Id. at ¶ 3. There, the plaintiff had a direct view of Bennett in the television room. Id.

         While chatting with Kent, the plaintiff discreetly watched Bennett, who was in the nearby television room watching a sporting event and socializing with inmates. Am. Compl. ¶ 4. The plaintiff told the inmate in the kitchenette what Bennett was doing and that he could proceed with the haircut. Id. at ¶ 5.

         As he continued to watch Bennett and chat with Kent, another inmate named Jose Vazquez approached the plaintiff from behind and punched him in the back of his leg. Am. Compl. ¶ 6. The strike caused the plaintiff to twist and fall to the ground in pain, spilling the cup of coffee he was holding. Id. at ¶ 7. The plaintiff then took three steps while holding onto the railing and threw the remainder of his coffee at Vazquez. Id. at ¶ 8. Afterward, the plaintiff looked toward the television room and noticed Bennett looking at him “with a confused look on his face.” Id. at ¶ 9. Bennett came out of the television room as the plaintiff began walking back up to his cell. Id. at ¶ 10. Bennett saw Vazquez covered in coffee and proceeded to lock down the block. Id. Shortly thereafter, several correctional officials apprehended the plaintiff and brought him to a restrictive housing unit (“RHU”) for assaulting Vazquez. Id. at ¶ 11. The plaintiff remained in the RHU for twenty-three days without a hearing. Id.

         On January 11, 2018, correction officials called the plaintiff for a disciplinary hearing on the incident with Vazquez. Am. Compl. ¶ 12. The plaintiff had not been given prior notice of the hearing. Id. When he responded to the call, the plaintiff learned from Officer Doe 1 that the video from the incident had not yet been reviewed. Id. The plaintiff told Doe 1 that inmate Kent could testify as a witness on his behalf, but Doe 1 did not take note of Kent's name. Id. at ¶ 13. Doe 1 suspended the disciplinary hearing for one week to allow time to review the video from the incident. Id. at ¶ 14.

         One week later, Doe 1 called the plaintiff and resumed the hearing. Am. Compl. ¶ 15. He informed the plaintiff that there was no surveillance footage of the area where Vazquez allegedly had assaulted him because it was out of the view of the security cameras. Id. at ¶ 16. The plaintiff expressed concern over how there could be areas that were not surveilled in a high-level facility like MWCI. Id. at ¶ 17. He also asked about producing Kent as a witness to the incident. Id. Doe 1 told him that “it is not worth his time to speak with the witness” and that he should not worry about the missing camera footage. Id. at ¶ 18. Doe 1 then found the plaintiff guilty of assaulting Vazquez and “imposed sanctions.”[2] Id. at ¶ 19.

         The plaintiff appealed the disciplinary finding on January 22, 2018. Am. Compl. ¶ 20. He received a response from District Administrator Quiros affirming the finding. Id. Quiros did not speak with the plaintiff's witness. Id.

         To date, the plaintiff suffers from ongoing medical issues from the incident with Vazquez, including a pronounced limp. Am. Compl. ¶ 21. He has since been ...

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