United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW OF AMENDED COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO 28
U.S.C. § 1915A
JEFFREY ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Alphonso Whipper is a prisoner in the custody of the
Connecticut Department of Correction at Cheshire Correctional
Institution. Proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis, on February 27, 2018, he filed a civil
complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against seven prison
officials: Warden Scott Erfe, District Administrator Angel
Quiros, Deputy Warden Amanda Hannah, Captain James Watson,
Administrative Remedies Coordinator Selena Rious, and
Officers Anna Verdura and James Wright. Whipper claimed that
the defendants unconstitutionally retaliated against him for
pleading not guilty to a disciplinary charge by placing him
in administrative segregation. After an initial review, I
dismissed the claims against defendants Erfe, Hannah, Quiros,
and Rious but permitted the retaliation claim to proceed
against Verdura, Wright, and Watson. Doc. #9 at 7-9; see
Whipper v. Erfe, 2018 WL 2390142, at *5 (D. Conn. 2018).
moved for leave to file an amended complaint to cure the
initial complaint's factual defects, Doc. #13, and I
granted the motion, Doc. #14. I ordered him to file an
amended complaint incorporating all the changes described in
his motion. Doc. #15. Whipper has now filed an amended
complaint, Doc. #16, which I will review pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A.
following facts are alleged in the amended complaint and are
accepted as true only for purposes of this ruling. On
November 21, 2016, Whipper was summoned to the
lieutenants' office and informed by Lieutenant Correia of
allegations that he was involved in a physical altercation
with another inmate, Edwin Snelgrove. Doc. #16 at 3-4
(¶¶ 12-15). He was also informed that, as a result
of the allegations, he was being placed in restrictive
housing. Id. at 3 (¶ 14). Whipper denied that
he had been involved in such an altercation. Id. at
4 (¶ 16).
Wright, who had escorted Whipper to the office, instructed
Whipper to remove his shirt for photos, and he complied and
again denied being involved in the fight. Id. at 3-4
(¶¶ 13, 17-20). Wright requested that Whipper turn
his right shoulder toward the camera, and Whipper stated that
he believed Wright was fabricating evidence. Id. at
4 (¶ 18). Wright replied, “I know you were in a
fight last week [and] you're not getting away with
it.” Ibid. (¶ 19). Whipper indicated that
he had played basketball twice in the previous week and that
any marks on his body likely resulted from his athletic
activities. Ibid. (¶ 20). Lieutenant Correia
proceeded to place Whipper in a restrictive housing unit.
Ibid. (¶ 21).
was asked to write a statement about the alleged physical
altercation. Ibid. (¶ 23). He complied and
wrote that he had no knowledge of the incident. To
Whipper's knowledge, both he and Snelgrove were placed in
restrictive housing on administrative detention status
pending the investigation. Id. at 4-5 (¶ 24).
November 22, 2016, Whipper met with disciplinary report
investigator Officer Cossette. See Id. at 5 (¶
25). Officers Verdura and Perrachio were also present at the
meeting. Ibid. (¶ 26). Cossette expressed
surprise that Whipper wanted to meet with him. Ibid.
(¶ 27). When Cossette inquired about the altercation
with Snelgrove, Whipper again denied any involvement.
Ibid. Cossette stated that both Whipper and
Snelgrove sustained eye injuries. Ibid. (¶ 28).
Whipper countered that his eyes always appear the way they
were shown in the photographs, and he requested that Cossette
retrieve his ID photo, which he believed would confirm his
claim about the ordinary appearance of his eyes.
told Whipper that they knew about the fight and that Warden
Erfe was upset that no officer had reported the fight or
Snelgrove's injuries. Ibid. (¶¶
30-31). Whipper stated that there were no reports because the
fight had never occurred, and that it was unusual for wardens
to investigate allegations of fights. Ibid. Whipper
then informed Verdura that he and Erfe had a “tense
relationship based on past grievances and complaints made by
[him] against unfair and harsh restrictions . . . implemented
by . . . Erfe spanning two prisons.” Id. at
5-6 (¶ 32). Peracchio stated that regardless of whether
there had in fact been a fight, Whipper would remain in
administrative detention for 15 days. Id. at 6
(¶ 33). Verdura then showed Whipper a picture of
Snelgrove's alleged eye injury, which Whipper believes
was inconsistent with a punch to the eye area. Id.
at 5-6 (¶¶ 30-34).
November 28, 2016, Whipper received a disciplinary report
from Verdura for fighting. Id. at 6 (¶ 35). The
report contained inaccurate information, including: (1) a
statement that the investigation commenced on November 16,
2016, and (2) a photo that allegedly depicts Whipper's
eye injury but in fact depicts his typical appearance.
Ibid. (¶ 36). Snelgrove also received a
disciplinary report for fighting, and both inmates pleaded
not guilty. Ibid. (¶ 37).
December 5, 2016, Whipper received a summary report
dismissing the disciplinary report for a “lack of
evidence.” Ibid. (¶ 38). Snelgrove
received the same dismissal notification. Despite the
dismissal, neither inmate was released from his restrictive
housing cell. Ibid. (¶¶ 38- 39).
December 6, 2016, Captain Watson summoned Whipper to his
office. Id. at 6-7 (¶ 40). When Whipper
arrived, Watson told him that Erfe wanted Whipper to sign a
waiver in order to be sent to Alaska. Ibid. Upon
seeing Whipper's reaction, he asked that Whipper and
Snelgrove submit written statements in accordance with
protocol expressing that they were not a threat to one
another, and Whipper complied. Ibid. at 7 (¶
40). After completing his statement, Snelgrove was released
back into the general population, but Whipper was kept in
restrictive housing and given a new administrative detention
status because a profile request had been submitted and was
“pending investigation.” Ibid. (¶
41). Whipper could not find any prison policy establishing or
permitting the use of this status. Ibid.
complained to Watson that it was unfair to release Snelgrove
back into the general population while keeping him in
restrictive housing. Ibid. (¶ 42). Watson
explained that Whipper had to remain in segregated housing
due to the premature submission of the “profile
request” that was based on the assumption that both
prisoners were going to plead guilty. Ibid. (¶
43). To correct this error, a new profile request had to be
submitted while Whipper remained in restrictive housing.
Ibid. Whipper explained to Watson that he would lose
a semester of the college program in which he was enrolled,
but Watson dismissed his complaint, stating, “Next
time, keep your hands to yourself.” Ibid.
in restrictive housing, Whipper submitted multiple written
requests to various senior officials at Cheshire, including
Erfe, Deputy Warden Hannah, and Grievance Coordinator Rious.
Ibid. (¶ 45). He also informed Watson that he
intended to pursue litigation if his placement issue was not
December 12, 2016, Whipper asked Watson why he was still
being held in restrictive housing, and Watson responded that
“his paperwork had been lost in the shuffle.”
Id. at 7-8 (¶ 46). That same day, Whipper
submitted a grievance form for “staff
misconduct.” Id. at 8 (¶ 47).
the week of December 19, 2016, Whipper again asked Watson why
he had not been released back into general population.
Ibid. (¶ 48). Watson told Whipper,
“I'm surprised that you're handling this so
well, but you're still not getting out of here just
because you've been down here so long.”
Ibid. Watson further stated that he had been
e-mailing the classification officer regarding the matter but
had not yet received a response. Ibid. (¶ 49).
That same week, Whipper asked Hannah why she had been
ignoring his situation. Ibid. (¶ 50). Hannah
replied, “Until you submit something to me directly, I
cannot get involved.” Ibid. She told Whipper
that face-to-face interactions and written requests would not
suffice, and that Whipper had to write her a personal letter,
specifying the details. Ibid. Whipper complied but
informed Hannah of his intention to litigate what he believed
to be an arbitrary application of the Department of
Correction's Administrative Directives. Ibid. On
December 23, he wrote a five-page personal letter to Hannah.
Ibid. (¶ 51).
December 30, 2016, Whipper was released to the general
population after having spent 39 days in restrictive housing.
Ibid. (¶ 52). Whipper alleges that this
prolonged placement in housing was retaliation for his
decision to plead not guilty to the disciplinary report.
Id. at 8-9 (¶ 53). He further
“believes” that, based on his past history with
Erfe and Erfe's unusual investigatory role, it was ...