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Morgan v. Dzurenda

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 28, 2018

LLOYD GEORGE MORGAN, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES E. DZURENDA et al., Defendants.

          RULING AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Lloyd George Morgan, Jr. (“Plaintiff”), has sued Warden Carol Chapdelaine, Captain Kyle Godding, Officer Maritza Maldonado and Officer Jeremy Lindsay (collectively “Defendants”), who are employed by the Connecticut State Department of Correction (“DOC”), under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of rights guaranteed to him under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. While incarcerated at Osborn Correctional Institute in Somers, Connecticut, Mr. Morgan was violently assaulted by a fellow inmate. He now seeks to hold Defendants responsible for acting with deliberate indifference to his safety and security. Mr. Morgan also alleges a state law claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress.[1]

         Defendants have moved for summary judgment.

         For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In December 2017, Mr. Morgan finished serving a term of imprisonment and became free. Morgan Aff. ¶ 5, ECF No. 136-2. Before then, he had been incarcerated at various DOC facilities, including Garner Correctional Institution (“Garner”), Carl Robinson Correctional Institution (“Carl Robinson”), and Osborn Correctional Institution (“Osborn”). Id. ¶ 6. This lawsuit involves an incident that occurred during the second time Mr. Morgan had been placed at Osborn.

         A. Factual Allegations

         For purposes of this motion, all facts are undisputed, unless otherwise noted.

         1. The January 5, 2014, Assault

         On January 5, 2014, Mr. Morgan reported an assault that happened in the shower to Officer Maldonado, who had been undergoing a tour of the facility. Pl.'s Statement of Material Fact (“SMF”) ¶¶ 1, 30, ECF No. 136-1. Officer Maldonado claims to have heard nothing out of the ordinary during her shift, but reported the alleged assault to her supervisor. Id. ¶ 31. Mr. Morgan contends that, before the alleged assault, he had verbally informed Officers Maldonado and Lindsay that a Mr. Rodriguez had threatened him and he feared for his life. Morgan Aff. ¶ 29. He explained that he was particularly concerned about recreation time. Id. Mr. Morgan testified that, as Mr. Rodriguez beat him, Mr. Morgan cried out “C.O.! C.O.!” in hopes that someone would come intervene. Id. ¶ 35. He further testified that, after the assault, he told Officer Maldonado that he had been beaten by Mr. Rodriguez, the very person about whom he had warned her. Id. ¶ 37.

         Mr. Morgan feels that Officer Maldonado was dismissive of the fact that he had just been assaulted. Id. ¶ 38. He explained that she did not call an emergency code, stop recreation, or lock down the unit. Id. Rather, she allegedly allowed Mr. Rodriguez to walk unaccompanied to his cell, while locking Mr. Morgan in the shower for approximately fifteen minutes, treating him as the aggressor. Id.

         2. The Investigation

         On January 5, 2014, the day of the assault, Mr. Morgan met with Lieutenant Blair as part of an investigation into the incident. Pl.'s SMF ¶ 32. Lieutenant Blair reported that Mr. Morgan made no mention of having informed Warden Chapdelaine, Captain Godding, Officer Maldonado, or Officer Lindsay that Mr. Rodriguez posed a heightened risk to Mr. Morgan's safety. Id. ¶ 33; see also Incident Rep. No. OCI-14-01-006 at 5 (“006 Incident Rep.”), Defs.' SMF, Ex. C, ECF No. 129. Mr. Morgan, however, has testified that he explained to Lieutenant Blair that he had been “constantly” threated by Mr. Rodriguez and that he had told anyone at Osborn who would listen that he had concerns regarding his personal safety, including Warden Chapdelaine, Captain Godding, and Officers Maldonado and Lindsay. Morgan Aff. ¶ 41.

         Mr. Morgan also spoke with Lieutenant Lizon from the Intelligence Office, which Lieutenant Lizon memorialized in an Incident Report dated January 9, 2014. Pl.'s SMF ¶ 38; 006 Incident Rep. at 4. The incident report indicated that Mr. Morgan feared for his safety and believed that he should be placed in protective custody. 006 Incident Rep. at 4. Mr. Morgan explained that he had been working with the Intelligence Team at another correctional facility, Carl Robinson, and gang members discovered his cooperation. Id. Mr. Morgan also identified Mr. Rodriguez as a Security Risk Group member of the Los Solidos. Id. Lieutenant Lizon noted that Mr. Morgan had written several requests asking for protective custody based on Inmate Rodriguez's reputation as a possible Los Solidos. Id. Mr. Morgan submitted requests for protective custody on January 7 and 9, 2014. Id. at 36-38.

         3. The Grievance Procedure

         Complaints about other inmates, staff, and safety can be grieved. Pl.'s SMF ¶ 20. The DOC administrative grievance procedure, also known as Administrative Directive 9.6, requires that an inmate first seek informal resolution of a complaint, in writing, through the use of an Inmate Request Form, before filing a grievance. Pl.'s SMF ¶ 2. The inmate must “clearly state the problem and the action requested to remedy the issue.” Id. ¶ 4. The appropriate department is required to respond within fifteen days. Id. ¶ 2.

         If the issue is not resolved at this stage of the process, within thirty days of the occurrence or discovery of the cause of the grievance, the inmate is required to file a grievance using a CN 9602 form, which must be attached to the Inmate Request Form, containing the appropriate staff member's response, among other requirements. Id. ¶¶ 5-6, 8. Failure to seek an administrative remedy by using a CN 9602 form is a ground for returning the grievance without a disposition. Id. ¶ 7. The Administrative Remedies Coordinator has thirty days from the filing of the grievance to respond to it. Id. ¶ 9. If the response proves unsatisfactory, an inmate may appeal to the second level of review within five days after receipt of the determination. Id. ¶ 10, 27.

         4. Mr. Morgan's Inmate Request Forms

         On November 14, 2013, Mr. Morgan has testified that he submitted an Inmate Request Form to Captain Godding, notifying Captain Godding that Mr. Morgan had been working with intelligence officials at Carl Robinson. Morgan Aff. ¶ 19. He explained that a fellow inmate at Osborn, Gabriel Rodriguez, who Mr. Morgan alleged was gang affiliated, had threated to “snap [his] neck” for being a “snitch” and a “homo, ” and Mr. Morgan feared for his safety. Id.; see also Nov. 14, 2013, Inmate Request Form, Pl.'s SMF, Ex. 4, ECF No. 136-5. Mr. Morgan claims that he verbally expressed to Captain Godding his safety concerns on no fewer than three occasions, before he was assaulted. Morgan Aff. ¶¶ 21, 23.

         Mr. Morgan testified that, in response to Captain Godding's indifference, Mr. Morgan submitted an Inmate Request Form to Warden Chapdelaine on December 2, 2013. Id. ¶ 25. In it, he explained that Mr. Rodriguez had “constantly threatened [him] with bodily harm.” Dec. 2, 2013, Inmate Request Form, Pl.'s SMF, Ex. 5, ECF No. 136-6. He noted that he had written to Captain Godding but that Captain Godding had responded by telling Mr. Morgan to “fight like a man” and stop being a “snitch.” Id.: Mr. Morgan claims that, in advance of January 5, 2014, he verbally repeated these concerns to Warden Chapdelaine at least once and she acknowledged receiving and reading his request form, but failed to act. Morgan Aff. ¶ 26.

         5. Mr. Morgan's Grievances

         Mr. Morgan filed six CN 9602 grievances between November 2013 and June 2014. Id. ¶ 22; Defs.' SMF, Exs. F, G, H, I, J, K, ECF Nos. 127-8-127-13. Two of the six are relevant here. See generally March 4, 2014, Grievance No. 115-14-131 (“Grievance 131”), Defs.' SMF, Ex. F, ECF No. 127-8 (regarding being denied protective custody); March 4, 2014, Grievance No. 115-14-132 (“Grievance 132”), Defs.' SMF, Ex. g, ECF No. 127-9 (regarding the January 5, 2014, incident).

         Mr. Morgan submitted a grievance regarding the January 5, 2014, assault. Grievance 132. In it, Mr. Morgan notes that he had filed a CN 9601, dated January 6, 2014, with Restrictive Housing Unit Manager Lieutenant Lizon. Id. He also stated that he had “ongoing problems with many SRG gang members threating [his] life to assault or kill [him], ” and that this request for protective custody had been denied. Id.

         He also recounted the January 5, 2014 incident. He explained that, during second shift, he had informed Officers Maldonado and Lindsey that he was having problems with Gabriel Rodriguez, he feared for his safety, and Mr. Rodriguez had threatened him. Id. The officers offered no response, and, hours later, Mr. Rodriguez assaulted Mr. Morgan while he was taking a shower. Id. Mr. Morgan claims he called out for help, but Officers Maldonado and Lindsey did not respond. Id. Once the officers did intervene, Mr. Morgan reports that they did not “call a code” and appeared to treat Mr. Rodriguez favorably. Id. He notes that he had been informing Captain Godding about the “big gang problem in [Mr. Morgan's unit] in [his] complaint of January 6, 2014 to Lieutenant Lizon.” Id. Mr. Morgan made no allegations involving Warden Chapdelaine in this level one grievance or in any other level one grievance. Mr. Morgan's administrative remedy was denied. Id.

         Mr. Morgan appealed. Id. It was on appeal that, for the first time, Mr. Morgan referenced Warden Chapdelaine. Id. Specifically, he made reference to his December 2, 2013 Inmate Request Form. Id. The Level 2 Review was denied with an indication that Mr. Morgan had exhausted his administrative remedies. Id.

         On February 22, 2014, Mr. Morgan submitted a grievance that was denied on March 14, 2014. Grievance 131. In it, he stated that he had “written letters to many prison officials seeking urgent needed remedy regarding to my safety and security and fear regarding to my safety due to gang hits and threats to my safety.” Id. He explained that he had been labeled a “big snitch again” and had been experiencing “ongoing problems and threats of bodily harm by various inmates.” Id. In particular, he stated that a fellow inmate, De'Angelo D. Gilbert, had been making threats against his life, about which he had purportedly informed Captain Godding. Id. Mr. Morgan claimed he did so through the proper channels. Id. Mr. Morgan alleged discrimination, stating that white inmates were granted requests for protective custody, while he was “like a sitting duck waiting to be assaulted or killed.” Id. His request for protective custody was denied. Id.

         B. Procedural Background

         Mr. Morgan, then incarcerated and proceeding pro se, sued twenty-one officials or officers employed by the Connecticut State Department of Correction as Defendants alleging various claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). ECF No. 1.

         On initial review, the Court dismissed Mr. Morgan's Section 1983 claims alleging violations of the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as the ADA claims against all Defendants and the prison transfer claims against certain Defendants under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). ECF No. 11. The Court also dismissed the claims for monetary damages against all Defendants in their official capacities. Id.

         The Court concluded that the Eighth Amendment claims of failure to protect and deliberate indifference to safety, the First Amendment retaliation claims and the state law claims of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress would proceed but only to the extent that Mr. Morgan sought declaratory and injunctive relief. Id.

         In September 2015, the Court denied in part and granted in part the Defendants' motion to dismiss, allowing Mr. Morgan to seek discovery on the following claims: (1) the January 2014 failure to protect claim; (2) the claim that certain Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Mr. Morgan's safety when they called him a snitch in front of other inmates; (3) the claim that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Mr. Morgan's safety because they failed to take any action to protect Mr. Morgan from potential harm when they learned of the conduct of those Defendants who had called Mr. Morgan a snitch; (4) the specific claims of retaliation; and (5) the state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. ECF No. 53.

         In March 2017, the Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 107. The Court denied summary judgment of Mr. Morgan's Eighth Amendment failure to protect claim against Warden Chapdelaine, Captain Godding, Officers Maldonado and Lindsay arising from the assault by Mr. Rodriguez on Mr. Morgan and as to Mr. Morgan's ...


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