United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
C. Hall United States District Judge
September 6, 2018, plaintiff Julian Lockhart
(“Lockhart”), an inmate currently confined at
Garner Correctional Institution (“Garner”) in
Newtown, Connecticut, filed a pro se complaint
pursuant to section 1983 of title 42 of the United States
Code against eight Connecticut Department of Correction
(“DOC”) employees in their individual and
official capacities for violating his rights under the First,
Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States
Constitution and for negligence. Complaint
(“Compl.”) (Doc. No. 1) at 9, ¶ 3, 15,
¶ 15. The eight defendants are Commissioner of
Correction Scott Semple, Warden Falcone, Deputy Warden
Dilworth, Deputy Warden Kim Jones, Correction Officer
Camacho, Correction Officer Hancock, Correction Officer
Labby, and Dr. John Doe (unidentified). Id. at 2,
¶ 4-4, ¶ 4, ¶ 11. Lockhart seeks monetary,
declaratory, and injunctive relief. Id. at 1, 16. On
September 27, Lockhart's Motion to Proceed in forma
pauperis was granted. Order (Doc. No. 8). For the
following reasons, his Complaint is dismissed without
prejudice to amend.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
to section 1915A of title 28 of the United States Code, this
court must review prisoner complaints and dismiss any portion
of a 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. Although detailed allegations are not required, a
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
(2007). Conclusory allegations are not sufficient.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The
plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell
Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 570. Nevertheless, it is
well-established that “[p]ro 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. Federal Bureau of
Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)).
policy does not permit inmate access to outdoor recreation
during inclement weather. Compl. at 5, ¶ 1. There is an
outdoor ball field at Garner which inmates can use during the
summer and autumn months. Id. During the winter,
however, inmate recreation is limited to the indoor
the winter of 2016, a leak in the roof of the Garner
gymnasium caused the linoleum floor to buckle and warp.
Id. at 5, ¶ 2. Defendants Semple and Falcone
ordered the floor to be torn apart and replaced. Id.
Consequently, the linoleum tiles in the gymnasium were
removed, leaving the “tar-like glue” and an
uneven surface on the ground. Id. at 5, ¶ 3.
Over the next several months, the inmates at Garner,
including Lockhart, complained to defendants Labby, Jones,
Dilworth, Falcone, and Semple that the use of the gymnasium
was restricted and that the ball field was closed for winter,
thereby significantly limiting inmate recreation.
Id. at 5, ¶ 4.
defendants soon reopened the gymnasium with the unfinished
floor, thereby risking inmate safety. Id. at 6,
¶ 5. They made no efforts to warn Lockhart or any
inmates of the risk of using the unrepaired gymnasium.
Id. at 6, ¶ 6. The gymnasium floor was
eventually replaced with a “poured gypsum
material.” Id. at 5.
morning of May 25, 2017, before that repair, Lockhart injured
his left foot while playing basketball in the unfinished
gymnasium at Garner. Id. at 10, ¶ 1. He limped
over to the sideline where he met with defendant Hancock.
Id. at 10, ¶ 2. Hancock asked Lockhart if he
needed medical attention, and Lockhart replied in the
affirmative. Id. at 10, ¶¶ 3, 4. The two
individuals then walked to the medical unit. Id. at
10, ¶ 5. There, Hancock took a photograph of
Lockhart's injury and recorded his statement.
Id. At 10:00 a.m., a nurse in the medical unit
evaluated Lockhart, filled out a medical incident report, and
referred Lockhart to a physician for further evaluation.
Id. at 10, ¶ 6. The nurse told Lockhart that he
might have torn his Achilles tendon. Id. at 11,
¶ 7. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Valletta evaluated
Lockhart, confirmed the nurse's diagnosis, and told
Lockhart that he would need to go to the UConn Health Center
(“UConn”) to treat his torn Achilles.
Id. at 11, ¶ 8.
that afternoon, Lockhart was sent to UConn and evaluated by
Dr. Doe. Id. at 11, ¶ 10. Doe informed Lockhart
that his options were to either undergo surgery to reattach
his Achilles or medicate the injury without surgery.
Id. at 11, ¶ 11. Lockhart asked Doe to explain
the difference between the two options, and Doe assured him
that medicating the injury without surgery would ultimately
heal the tendon. Id. at 11, ¶¶ 12, 13.
Lockhart again, in an attempt to understand Doe, asked if his
tendon would heal itself without surgery, and Doe responded
affirmatively. Id. at 12, ¶¶ 14, 15. Doe
explained that, if Lockhart opts for surgery, he would run
the risk of catching an infection. Id. at 12, ¶
15. Lockhart consulted with his transporting officers,
Correction Officers Angel and Bleeker, and asked them for
their thoughts on the surgery. Id. at 12, ¶ 16.
Both officers stated that they always thought a torn Achilles
tendon needed to be reattached but that, if the doctor said
that the tendon would heal without surgery, then there was no
need to have the operation. Id. at 12, ¶¶
16, 17. Lockhart ultimately declined surgery. Id. at
13, ¶ 19. Doe then ordered Lockhart to wear a cast on
his foot for two weeks, followed by a medical boot.
Id. at 13, ¶ 20.
another doctor and an intern placed a cast on his foot,
Lockhart returned to Garner. Id. at 13, ¶ 21.
He wore the cast for two weeks, as instructed, and took
medication. Id. at 13, ¶ 22. He then returned
to UConn where he was given a medical boot to wear for six
months and placed on a pain medication regimen. Id.
at 13, ¶ 23.
wore the medical boot until January 1, 2018. Id. at
13, ¶ 24. When the boot was removed, Lockhart discovered
that his tendon did not heal, and he continued to walk with a
limp. Id. He also discovered that Dr. Doe had
previously performed surgery on a correction officer named
Lawlor, who also tore his Achilles tendon while running
drills on the Garner gymnasium floor. Id. at 14,
is suing Semple, Falcone, Dilworth, Jones, Camacho, Hancock,
and Labby for acting with deliberate indifference to his
safety, in violation of his Eighth Amendment protection
against cruel and unusual punishment, by exposing other
inmates and him to the unfinished gymnasium floor at Garner.
Compl. at 7, ¶1 - 9, ¶ 3. Specifically, he claims
that these defendants “knew or should have known of the
gym floor being torn up for maintenance and not suitable to
play on, ” but ignored the safety risks created by the
unfinished repairs. Id. at 7, ¶1 - 8, ¶ 8.
Lockhart also claims that these defendants retaliated against
him for filing grievances, in violation of his First
Amendment right to free speech, and that they are liable for
negligence. Id. at 9, ¶¶ 2, 3. He is suing
Dr. Doe for acting with deliberate indifference to his
serious medical ...