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Hayes v. Santiago

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 29, 2018

TICEY HAYES, Plaintiff,
v.
ANTONIO SANTIAGO, et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

          JEFFREY ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Ticey Hayes is a pre-trial detainee in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution. Proceeding pro se, on October 19, 2018, he filed a civil complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against six prison officials, all in their individual and official capacities: Director of Security Antonio Santiago, SRG Coordinator John Aldi, Lieutenant J. Russell, Hearing Officer King, District Administrator Edward Maldonado, and Warden Mulligan. Hayes claims that the defendants have unconstitutionally subjected him to solitary confinement. For the reasons I explain below, I will allow Hayes's claims to proceed at this time.

         Background

         The following facts are alleged in the amended complaint and are accepted as true only for purposes of this initial review ruling. On July 23, 2018, Hayes was incarcerated as a pretrial detainee at New Haven Correctional Center. Doc. #1 at 5, 8 (¶¶ 1, 32). On July 25, Lieutenant Russell brought him to restrictive housing pending the determination of Hayes's security risk group (SRG) affiliation, and stated that he did so because of Hayes's social media posts. Id. at 5 (¶ 2), 9 (¶ 1). The following day Hayes went to a hearing for his SRG determination. Id. at 5 (¶ 3). At the hearing, Hearing Officer King did not give Hayes a chance to make a plea or be heard, and despite Hayes not being a gang member, designated Hayes as a security risk based on Hayes's social media posts. Id. at 6 (¶¶ 4-5, 10), 9 (¶ 2).

         Because Hayes was designated a security risk, he was sent to MacDougall-Walker's Phase Two Unit. Id. at 7 (¶ 11). There, he spends 23 hours per day in a small cell, and the entire day on weekends. Ibid. (¶ 15). When he is allowed recreation time, the only option is to go outside, even during inclement weather. Ibid. (¶¶ 19-21). He is only allowed three showers per week, in dirty water where blood and feces are present. Ibid. (¶ 12, 23). He has no access to the television, CD player, or hotpot that he bought from the commissary, and consequently cannot heat the cold water in his cell to prepare food. Ibid. (¶¶ 14, 18). He has no access to religious or educational programming, and is limited to three telephone calls per week to immediate family, rather than the six calls per day to unrestricted recipients he would be allowed in the general population. Id. at 7-8 (¶¶ 16-17, 24). Only immediate family members may visit. Id. at 8 (¶ 35). Gang members in the housing unit threaten to kill him, and prison officials have done nothing to stop that behavior. Ibid. (¶¶ 26-27, 30).

         According to Hayes, because he has been previously designated to and finished the SRG program successfully, he now faces two more years of SRG designation before he can “go to population.” Ibid. (¶¶ 6-7). Hayes alleges that he will be required to remain in his solitary conditions for five months before he may progress to the next phase. Ibid. (¶ 34).

         On July 28, 2018, Hayes filed an appeal challenging his designation. Id. at 15. District Administrator Maldonado denied the appeal on August 10, 2018. Id. at 14. Hayes then sued the defendants in this action, alleging that Russell had unconstitutionally placed him segregation based on his social media posts, that King had denied Hayes a hearing and designated him a security risk based on his social media posts, that Maldonado had denied his appeal, and that Aldi and Santiago were liable as the supervisors of Russell, King, and Maldonado. Id. at 9-10 (¶¶ 1-4). Hayes also alleges that Warden Mulligan has overseen what Hayes alleges are unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Id. at 11 (¶ 5). I will allow his claims against each of these defendants to proceed without prejudice to the right of any defendant to timely file a motion to dismiss or for other relief.

         Discussion

         Pursuant 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 complaint, 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).

         In 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 Atl. Corp. 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).

         Due process claims against Russell and King

          Hayes alleges a claim for violation of his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment due process rights against Russell and King. Doc. #1 at 9 (¶¶ 1-2). Because Hayes is in state custody and Russell and King are state officers, I will construe this as a claim only under the Fourteenth Amendment. “[P]rocedural due process requires that pretrial detainees can only be subjected to segregation or other heightened restraints if a pre-deprivation hearing is held to determine whether any rule has been violated.” Johnston v. Maha, 606 F.3d 39, 41 (2d Cir. 2010). Liberty restrictions on a pretrial detainee may not amount to punishment of the detainee, and a pretrial detainee who is placed in segregation for administrative or security reasons is entitled to some notice of the charges against him and an opportunity to present his views. See Benjamin v. Fraser, 264 F.3d 175, 188, 190 (2d Cir. 2001) (citing Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520 (1979), and Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460 (1983)). In addition, substantive due process requires that restrictions on pre-trial detainees be reasonably related to a legitimate goal. See Almighty Supreme Born Allah v. Milling, 876 F.3d 48, 55 (2d Cir. 2017).

         Even if Hayes's segregation is purely administrative, he nonetheless sufficiently states a claim at this preliminary stage of the litigation. While Hayes indicates that he was told the reason for his segregation-his social media posts allegedly indicating an affiliation with the gang known as the Bloods, see Doc. #1 at 14-he also alleges that at the hearing, he was not allowed to make a plea, Doc. # 1 at 6 (¶ 4), present his side of the story, id. at 9 (¶ 2), or challenge the accusations against him. Ibid. Taken as true and construed most favorably to Hayes's claim, Hayes has alleged that he was placed by Russell into restrictive housing and not afforded an opportunity to present his views at the hearing in front of King-and thus that his detention violates procedural due process. These allegations suffice at this time to state a claim against both Russell and King.[1]

         First Amendment retaliation claims against ...


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