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Wine v. Semple

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 18, 2018

DANIEL WINE, Plaintiff,
SCOTT SEMPLE, ET AL., Defendants.



         Daniel Wine (“Plaintiff”), pro se, currently incarcerated at MacDougall Walker Correctional Institution (“MacDougall Walker”) in Suffield, Connecticut, filed a civil Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Compl., ECF no. 1, against Commissioner of the Department of Correction (“DOC”) Scott Semple and MWCI Warden William Mulligan for violating his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Compl. Mr. Wine seeks damages against both Defendants in their individual and official capacities. Id; Mot. to Am. Compl., ECF No. 11. On June 22, 2018, Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel granted Mr. Wine's motion to proceed in forma pauperis. See Order Granting Mot. for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, ECF No. 9. On September 14, 2018, Mr. Wine filed a motion for preliminary injunctive relief against Warden Mulligan. Mot. for Prelim. Inj. Relief, ECF No. 10. Mr. Wine requested a status update on that motion on October 15, 2018. Letter motion re: Mot. for Prelim. Injunct., ECF No. 12.

         For the following reasons, the Complaint is DISMISSED without prejudice subject to amendment. The motion for leave to amend the complaint is DENIED AS MOOT. The motion for preliminary injunctive relief is DENIED. The Court advises the Plaintiff that if he fails to file an amended complaint in accordance with the instructions in this Order, within thirty (30) days of the date of this Order, the case will be dismissed with prejudice.


         On April 24, 2017, Warden Mulligan wrote and distributed a written memorandum to all MacDougall Walkerstaff and inmates stating “that, effective immediately, when staff are delivering incoming legal mail they shall retain the envelope/envelopes. (The inmate does not get to keep the envelope/envelopes.)” Compl. ¶ 7; Pl.'s Ex. A (ECF No. 1) at 6. The memo also provided that photocopies of the incoming envelope can be made should an inmate need the return the address. Pl.'s Ex. A. During one of Warden Mulligan's facility tours, Mr. Wine asked him about the new policy, specifically how the policy could be legal if “the enclosure is [the] private property of the person [to whom] it is addressed.” Compl. ¶ 9. Mr. Wine also contended that the policy did not comply with DOC Administrative Directive 10.7. Id. at ¶ 10. According to Mr. Wine, Warden Mulligan responded that it was his policy and that there were no exceptions. Id. at ¶ 11. The new policy could permit correction officers to take inmate legal documents during cell searches because the documents are no longer kept in envelopes marked “privileged” or “confidential.” Id. at ¶ 13.

         On January 19, 2018, Mr. Wine wrote to the Admitting and Processing (“A&P”) room asking for a box in which to store his legal documents, but the request was denied. Compl. ¶ 14. He followed up with a letter to Deputy Warden Roach, asking for boxes to store his legal paperwork because Warden Mulligan's new policy prevents him from organizing all of it. Id. at ¶ 15; Pl.'s Ex. D, ECF No. 1, at 17. Mr. Wine also submitted an informal inmate request and administrative grievances regarding the matter and spoke with an attorney in the Inmate Legal Aid Program (“ILAP”). Compl. ¶¶ 17-19. The ILAP attorney informed Mr. Wine that Commissioner Semple had assured her that all inmates would “receive[] new replacement enclosures.” Id. at ¶ 21. Thereafter, Mr. Wine asked for a replacement “enclosure” from his unit counselor but was told that it was not facility policy to provide such items. Id. at ¶ 22.


         A 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. 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, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). Conclusory allegations are not sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). A plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. It is well-established, however, that pro 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).


         Mr. Wine claims that the mail policy, instituted by Warden Mulligan and permitted by Commissioner Semple, and the denial of boxes or “enclosures” for his legal papers violate his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. He has failed to state a plausible claim, however, under either constitutional amendment.

         A. Fourth Amendment Search

         Mr. Wine has alleged a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. The Court finds that Mr. Wine has failed to state a sufficient Fourth Amendment claim upon which relief may be granted.

         The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 353, 88 S.Ct. 507, 512, 19 L.Ed.2d 576 (1967). The Fourth Amendment governs when the person has an actual or subjective expectation of privacy and that expectation is one that society recognizes as reasonable. Id. at 361. If those conditions are satisfied, the Court must determine whether the search or seizure at issue was reasonable. Id.

         It is well-established that prisoners have limited, if any, reasonable expectations of privacy because of their confinement status. See Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 524-30, 104 S.Ct. 3194, 3199 et seq., 82 L.Ed.2d 393 (1984) (loss of privacy is an inherent incidence of confinement); United States v. Roy, 734 F.2d 108, 111 (2d Cir. 1984) (legitimate privacy expectations “severely curtailed” during incarceration). Courts in the Second Circuit have routinely held that an inmate's limited expectation of privacy in his or her prison correspondence must yield to the legitimate penological interests of the prison facility. See Dillhunt v. Theriault, No. 9:07-cv-0412 (GTS/DEP), 2009 WL 4985477, *10 (N.D.N.Y. Dec. 15, 2009). “[T]he interception of a defendant's prison correspondence does not violate that individual's . . . Fourth Amendment right[] if prison officials had ‘good' or ‘reasonable' cause to inspect the mail.” United States v. Felipe, 148 F.3d 101, 108 (2d ...

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