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Jusino v. Gaw

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 8, 2018

JOSE A. JUSINO, Plaintiff,
HEATHER GAW, et al., Defendants.



         The plaintiff, Jose A. Jusino, is incarcerated at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution (“MacDougall-Walker”). He has filed a civil complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Psychologists Heather Gaw and Mark Frayne, Director of Psychiatry Craig Burns, Director of Psychology Thomas Kocienda, Health Services Administrator Brian Liebel, and Counselor William Longo.[1] For the reasons set forth below, the court will dismiss the complaint.

         I. Standard of Review

          Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the court must review prisoner civil complaints against governmental actors and “dismiss ... any portion of [a] complaint [that] is frivolous, malicious, or 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.” Id. Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         Although detailed allegations are not required, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when a plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A complaint that includes only “‘labels and conclusions,' ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action' or ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement, '” does not meet the facial plausibility standard. Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557 (2007)). Although courts still have an obligation to interpret “a pro se complaint liberally, ” the complaint must still include sufficient factual allegations to meet the standard of facial plausibility. See Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).

         II. Facts

         The plaintiff states that he has been diagnosed as suffering from borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and abnormal brain structure and function. See Compl., at 4 ¶ 16. His “risk factors are suicidal ideation, behavior, gestures, threats[, ] and self-mutilating behavior.” See Id. ¶ 17. He has been confined in a restrictive housing unit since May 2007. See Id. ¶ 15.

         In June 2016, the plaintiff filed a complaint against a number of mental health and medical providers employed by the Connecticut Department of Correction, including Dr. Frayne, Director Burns, and Administrator Liebel. See Id. at 3 (citing Jusino v. Frayne, et al., No. 16cv961(MPS) (Complaint, ECF No. 1). On August 2, 2016, the court dismissed the claims against multiple defendants, including Administrator Liebel, but concluded that the claims of deliberate indifference to mental health treatment would proceed against other defendants, including Dr. Frayne and Director Burns. See Jusino, No. 16cv961(MPS) (Initial Review Order, ECF No. 10). On January 3, 2018, the court considered a motion for summary judgment filed by defendants Frayne, Gagne, Burns, Chaplin, and Forbes and granted the motion as to the claims against defendants Burns and Chaplin, but denied the motion as to defendants Frayne, Gagne, and Forbes. See Id. (Ruling Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 87, at 10-13).

         Also on January 3, 2018, the plaintiff submitted a four-page letter to multiple Department of Correction officials regarding inaccurate information about his treatment that had been included in an individualized treatment plan formulated for him by Dr. Frayne and Director Kocienda. See Compl. at 4 ¶ 18. On January 12, 2018, without evaluating or testing the plaintiff, Dr. Frayne and Counselor Longo lowered the plaintiff's mental health needs score. See Id. ¶ 20. The plaintiff suggests that his mental health needs score was lowered to a level below level 3. See Id. at 7 ¶ 30. The plaintiff contends that prison officials are not required to provide him with mental health treatment because of his lower mental health needs score. See Id. at 4 ¶ 20.

         Director Kocienda serves as a consultant to the Connecticut Department of Correction and oversees the mental health care provided to inmates, including the plaintiff. See Id. at 6 ¶ 25. On January 22, 2018, Director Kocienda wrote to the plaintiff and acknowledged that the plaintiff had “identified mental health needs.” See Id. at 5 ¶ 24.

         On March 15, 2018, the plaintiff sent a letter to Directors Kocienda and Burns regarding the decision to lower his mental health needs score. See Id. at 5 ¶ 21. Neither Director Kocienda, nor Director Burns responded to the plaintiff's letter. See id.

         On April 23, 2018, the plaintiff met with Psychologist Gaw, who was employed at Northern, regarding his concerns that he might be at a future risk of harm due to his mental health needs score having been lowered. See Id. at 6 ¶ 26. Psychologist Gaw informed the plaintiff that there was no need to raise his mental health needs score and that he would be receiving mental health treatment from a male mental health worker. See Id. ¶¶ 27-28. The plaintiff alleges that the mental health worker assigned to him was a homosexual and that the mental health worker's sexual orientation made him feel uncomfortable. See Id. The plaintiff states that he had been subjected to sexual abuse in the past and had a “fear of homosexual male[s].” See id.

         On May 10, 2018, the plaintiff sent a complaint to Administrator Liebel regarding the lowering of his mental health needs score based on “non-mental health factors” and to a level that did not require treatment to be provided to him. Administrator Liebel declined to take any action in response to the written complaint from the plaintiff and indicated that the information in the complaint was “just [the plaintiff's] opinion.” See Id. at 7 ¶ 29.

         On July 31, 2018, prison officials at Northern transferred the plaintiff to another facility. See Id. ¶ 31. At the new facility, prison officials classified the plaintiff to a more restrictive status based on an incident that had occurred in 2009. See Id. Because the plaintiff's mental health needs score was below a level three, prison officials at the new facility did not offer to provide the plaintiff with mental health treatment, ...

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