United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT
Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.
Luis Galarza has filed this complaint pro se and
in forma pauperis against employees of the
Connecticut Department of Correction pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Plaintiff alleges that defendants violated his
constitutional rights arising from alleged tampering with his
legal mail on one occasion. Because plaintiff has not alleged
facts that give rise to plausible grounds for relief, the
complaint will be dismissed without prejudice.
has filed this lawsuit against officials of the Connecticut
Department of Correction including Commissioner Scott Semple,
Warden Scott Erfe, Deputy Warden Hannah, Mail Handlers
Wislocki, Ramirez and Rivera, Correctional Officer McMahon,
Captain Torres, and Lieutenant McMahon (collectively,
“defendants”) in their individual and official
capacities. He claims that prison officials improperly opened
and delayed his receipt of a letter from his attorney.
following facts are assumed to be true solely for purposes of
my initial evaluation of the adequacy of the allegations in
the complaint. On June 6, 2017, plaintiff was called to the
Lieutenant's office to get his legal mail. Lieutenant
McMahon notified plaintiff that the mail room staff had
opened his mail and that he would be filing an incident
report. At that point, plaintiff noted that his opened letter
was postmarked May 19, 2017. The letter was from
plaintiff's attorney and informed plaintiff that he had
90 days to file for relief in the United States Supreme
Court takes judicial notice that the Connecticut Supreme
Court denied certification for appeal from the Connecticut
Appellate Court in plaintiff's state habeas matter on May
17, 2017. See Galarza v. Comm'r of Correction,
325 Conn. 928 (2017). This was two days before the alleged
postmark date for the legal correspondence that was sent from
plaintiff's attorney to plaintiff.
the mail being withheld for three weeks, plaintiff alleges
that he had less time to prepare for his case. Plaintiff
submitted an Inmate Request to Captain Torres addressing the
problems that he had been having with the mail room staff for
a few years and the lack of corrective action. In response,
Captain Torres gave plaintiff the defendants' names. Doc.
#1 at 7 (¶ 1).
8, 2017, plaintiff contacted Deputy Warden Hannah regarding
the incident with his mail, specifically that his legal mail
had been improperly withheld and opened outside of his
presence. He also informed Hannah that he had complained
before about staff behavior at the mail room. Plaintiff then
requested that Hannah remove the defendant mail handlers from
the mail room. Hannah responded on June 29, 2017, explaining
that the mail room reported that the mail was delivered on
the day it was received, that the letter had been opened
inadvertently and, per policy, an incident report had been
filed. Id. at 7-8 (¶ 2), 17.
18, 2017, plaintiff submitted a Freedom of Information Act
(“FOIA”) request seeking a copy of the incident
report. Id. at 8 (¶ 4). FOIA Officer McMahon
responded that once his documents were ready, he would be
notified. Id. at 23. On June 26, 2017, plaintiff
submitted an Inmate Request to Warden Erfe, seeking removal
of the mail handlers, but he did not receive a response.
Id. at 8-9 (¶ 5).
5, 2017, plaintiff filed a grievance, again requesting that
the defendant mail handlers be removed. The grievance was
denied on the basis that “inmates do not dictate staff
discipline.” Id. at 27. Subsequently,
plaintiff filed to appeal his Level 1 decision to Level 2
based on his disagreement with the decision from Level 1. In
denying plaintiff's request, the Level 2 reviewer
remarked that plaintiff had exhausted his administrative
remedies. Id. at 30.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a
prisoner's civil complaint against a governmental entity
or governmental actors and “identify cognizable claims
or dismiss the compliant, or any portion of the complaint, if
the complaint-(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” If the prisoner is proceeding pro se,
the allegations of the complaint must be read liberally to
raise the strongest arguments that they suggest. See
Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010).
recent years, the Supreme Court has set forth a threshold
“plausibility” pleading standard for courts to
evaluate the adequacy of allegations in federal court
complaints. A complaint must allege enough facts-as distinct
from legal conclusions-that give rise to plausible grounds
for relief. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atlantic v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Notwithstanding the rule of liberal
interpretation of a pro se complaint, a pro
se complaint may not survive dismissal if its factual
allegations do not meet the basic plausibility standard.
See, e.g., Fowlkes v. Ironworkers Local 40,
790 F.3d 378, 387 (2d Cir. 2015).
Right of ...