United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge
Roger Johnson has filed this action against several officials
of the Connecticut Department of Correction. He alleges that
these officials violated his rights when they removed
partitions in a prison bathroom. He further claims that the
officials violated his rights by threatening and harassing
him for complaints he made stemming from that incident. For
the reasons stated below, I will grant defendants' motion
for summary judgment.
following facts are set forth in the light most favorable to
plaintiff as the non-moving party. In August of 2014,
plaintiff was working in the clothing factory at Osborn
Correctional Institution. On August 4, 2014, defendant
Officer Conley and defendant Supervisor Zawistowski removed
the privacy partitions that surrounded the toilets in the
bathroom used by inmate workers in the clothing factory.
Officer Conley testified that he was directed to do so by
Supervisor Ray Monroe because of graffiti on the partitions.
Doc. #38-5 at 2. Conley and Monroe testified that partitions
remained for two toilets, but plaintiff testified that all
partitions were removed for a period of two or three days.
Doc. #38-4 at 21.
plaintiff asked Conley why the partitions were being removed,
Conley responded, “so that you guys can holds hands
while you take a shit.” Id. at 28. Zawistowski
laughed at the comment, and said to plaintiff, “so do
you think that they will get the message.” Id.
at 29. Plaintiff asked what that comment meant. Seeing that
plaintiff was upset by the partition removal, Zawistowski
contacted Supervisor Hussain and told him that plaintiff was
upset. Ibid. Hussain then contacted Monroe.
soon entered the clothing factory and stated that inmates are
“fucking animals” who do not have any privacy
rights when using the bathroom. Id. at 29. He
further stated that inmates do not wash their hands after
using the bathroom and take showers together either naked or
while wearing boxers. Ibid. He then told the inmates
that if an inmate wanted to use a restroom he would lock him
in the bathroom and have Conley black out the windows.
Id. at 29-30. Plaintiff understood this comment to
be threatening and intimidating. Id. at 32.
response to inmates raising privacy concerns, Monroe
instituted a rule that inmates could only use the bathroom
one at a time. Id. at 21; see also Doc.
#38-6 at 2 (¶ 5). But inmates violated the rule. Doc.
#38-4 at 21. Plaintiff, however, did not report the
violation of the one-inmate rule at the time. Id. at
plaintiff was using the bathroom once without partitions,
another inmate sat on the toilet next to him, rubbed against
him, and gawked at him. Id. at 23. Plaintiff did not
complain to the staff officers about the incident because he
feared officers would retaliate against him. Id. at
23-24. Although there was another bathroom located right
outside the entrance to the clothing shop, plaintiff did not
ask to use it and believed that inmates were not permitted to
use that bathroom. Id. at 22.
same day, plaintiff filed an inmate request form to
Commissioner Dzurenda, stating that he had been sexually
harassed, threatened, and intimidated in the clothing factory
by Conley and Monroe. Doc. #38-9 at 2. Dzurenda never
responded to the complaint. Dzurenda attested that he
referred the matter to Warden Maldonado because he believed
that matter was properly addressed at the facility level.
Doc. #38-10 at 2. Warden Maldonado attested that he received
the referral of the inmate request form/complaint. Doc.
#38-11 at 2.
September 7, 2014, plaintiff called the Prison Rape
Elimination Act (“PREA”) hotline. He recounted
the partition incident and reported that he had been sexually
harassed, threatened, and intimidated. Plaintiff believed
that the phone conversation would be kept confidential, but
PREA officials immediately contacted Osborn and informed
defendant Lieutenant Correctional Officer Jamie Shepard that
plaintiff had filed a PREA complaint. Doc. #38-4 at 36-37. An
incident report shows that Lieutenant Fusaro, who had
received plaintiff's PREA call, contacted Lieutenant
Shepard so that Shepard could interview plaintiff and
document the incident. Doc. #42 at 101.
after the phone call, Shepard called plaintiff to his office.
When plaintiff arrived, he found defendants Shepard, Spruil,
Hebert, and another officer present. Shepard yelled at
plaintiff and said, “What is your fucking
problem?” in reference to the PREA call. Plaintiff was
stunned, because he believed his call was confidential.
Shepard argued that plaintiff's claims amounted to a
misunderstanding rather than sexual harassment and tried to
convince plaintiff to drop his complaint. Lieutenant Hebert
also threatened to take away plaintiff's job. Doc. #38-4
at 37-40, 42-43.
did not file any grievance complaining of retaliation, in
part because he feared further retaliation. Doc. #38-4 at
43-44. Shepard prepared an incident report about the
incident. Doc. #38-12 at 3-4. He then investigated the
complaint and later closed it as meritless.
felt that his concerns were not being addressed so he sent a
series of communications to different prison officials. He
sent an inmate request form to Director of Security Christine
Whidden on October 21. Doc. # 42 at 123-24. Plaintiff also
sent letters to the director of PREA on September 16, October
13, and October 24. Id. at 119-121, 126.
October 25, 2014, plaintiff attempted to mail legal documents
to the PREA unit and to the Connecticut state police. He gave
the documents to defendant Mia Lawrence, a counselor, in a
sealed envelope. The mail never reached its intended
destination, and plaintiff believes that Lawrence destroyed
the documents to prevent them from being mailed. ...