Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ashby v. Quiros

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 20, 2018

LAZALE ASHBY, Plaintiff,
v.
ANGEL QUIROS, SCOTT SEMPLE, WILLIAM MULLIGAN, WARDEN FANEUFF, GREGORIO ROBLES, CHERYL CAPELAK & MONICA RINALDI, Defendants.

          RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

          CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pro se Plaintiffs Jesse Campbell and Lazale Ashby's consolidated action concerns conditions of their incarceration at Northern Correctional Institution ("Northern"). See Doc. 1 ("Ashby Compl.") and Complaint, Campbell v. Quiros, No. 3:17-cv-946 (CSH) (D. Conn. June 8, 2017), ECF No. 1 ("Campbell Compl."). The Defendants Angel Quiros, Scott Semple, William Mulligan, Warden Faneuff, Gregorio Robles, Cheryl Capelak, and Monica Rinaldi move to dismiss both Plaintiffs' complaints in their entirety. This Ruling resolves Defendants' motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Ashby and Campbell are death row inmates at Northern.[1] Ashby Compl. ¶ 13; Campbell Compl. ¶ 13. Following an altercation between a corrections officer and another inmate on death row, prison officials imposed a lockdown on the death row unit in March 2010. Ashby Compl. ¶¶ 12-14. The lockdown had two consequences important to Plaintiffs.

         First, they were put on full restraint status. Id. ¶ 16. This meant that prison officials placed handcuffs, leg shackles and a tether chain on Plaintiffs every time they left their cells. Id. This policy-requiring death row inmates to be placed either in handcuffs, leg shackles and a tether chain or in handcuffs behind the back whenever they were escorted from their cells-was subsequently memorialized by Defendant and then-Warden Quiros in a policy recommendation memorandum. Ashby Compl. at 21 (Ex. A, "Death Row Restraint Policy Recommendation"). No. notice had been given, no hearing held, and no process allowed during this period for Plaintiffs to challenge the policy. Id. ¶¶ 19-21.

         Other death row inmates who had been resentenced in the months prior to the filing of Plaintiffs' complaints were not subject to the out-of-cell restraint policy, could engage in two extra hours of recreational activities, and were allowed to use all of the equipment in the prison gym.[2] Id. at ¶¶ 38-39; 44-47. Prison staff subjected Plaintiffs to the restraint policy from the March 2010 lockdown until a change in policy on January 1, 2018. Declaration of Captain Robles, Campbell v. Quiros, No. 3:17-cv-946 (CSH) (D. Conn. May 11, 2018), ECF No. 28-1; Order Amending Initial Review Order, Campbell v. Quiros, No. 3:17-cv-946 (CSH) (D. Conn. May 21, 2018), ECF No. 31.

         Second, Plaintiffs were removed from their tierman/janitor jobs, for which they had received "Level Two" pay, or $1.25 per day, after the imposition of the restraint policy. Ashby Compl. ¶¶ 27, 29. They were instead given a job with unspecified work duties with "Level One" pay, or $0.75 per day. Id. ¶ 30. Defendants allegedly gave them these Level One positions because Defendants believe they are required, by Connecticut law, to provide work assignments for death row inmates whose cases remain on direct appeal. Id. Plaintiffs allege that other death row inmates were allowed to keep their jobs. Ashby Compl. ¶ 35; Campbell Compl. ¶ 37.

         Plaintiffs individually filed lawsuits arguing that the out-of-cell restraint policy and employment termination violated various laws. Ashby Compl.; Campbell Compl. Following this Court's initial review orders, these claims remained in both cases:

The Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claims as to the imposition of the out-of-cell restraint policy on the class of death row prisoners who have yet to be resentenced, and as to Plaintiff[s'] lack of employment on a class-of-one theory, as well as the Fourteenth Amendment due process claim related to the initial imposition of an out-of-cell restraint policy on Plaintiff[s] and the continued imposition of that policy on Plaintiff[s], and the loss of Plaintiff[s'] job[s] and continued denial of employment to Plaintiff[s].

Ashby v. Quiros, No. 3:17-CV-916 (CSH), 2018 WL 2324081, at *11 (D. Conn. May 22, 2018); Campbell v. Quiros, No. 3:17-CV-946 (CSH), 2018 WL 888723, at *11 (D. Conn. Feb. 13, 2018).

         Campbell's resentencing in April 2018 mooted two of these claims, and this Court amended the initial review order for his complaint accordingly. Order Amending Initial Review Order, Campbell v. Quiros, No. 3:17-cv-946 (CSH) (D. Conn. May 21, 2018), ECF No. 31. In Campbell's lawsuit, the following claims survived: (1) a due process claim as to the initial imposition of the out-of-cell restraint policy, (2) a due process claim as to the loss of his job and continued denial of employment to Plaintiff, and (3) an equal protection claim as to his lack of employment on a class-of-one theory. Id. The Court will consider infra the effect of Ashby's June 2018 resentencing on his claims. See David Owens, Ex-Death Row Inmate Lazale Ashby Resentenced to Life Without Possibility of Release, Hartford Courant (June 20, 2018, 3:30 PM), https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-lazale-ashby-resentenced-to-life-0621-story.html. The Court consolidated Ashby and Campbell's cases on May 22, 2018. Doc. 12. Defendants now seek dismissal of both Plaintiffs' complaints.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "On a motion to dismiss, the issue is 'whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims.'" Patane v. Clark, 508 F.3d 106, 111 (2d Cir. 2007) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1984)). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). This pleading standard creates a "two-pronged approach" based on "[t]wo working principles." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79.

         First, all factual allegations in the complaint must be accepted as true, and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the favor of the non-moving party. See id.; see also Gorman v. Consol. Edison Corp., 488 F.3d 586, 591-92 (2d Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). The presumption of truth does not extend, however, to "legal conclusions" or "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action supported by mere conclusory statements[.]" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Second, "a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief" will survive a motion to dismiss and "[d]etermining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679) (quotation marks omitted). "Dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is appropriate when 'it is clear from the face of the complaint, and matters of which the court may take judicial notice, that the plaintiff's claims are barred as a matter of law.'" Associated Fin. Corp. v. Kleckner, 480 Fed.Appx. 89, 90 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Conopco, Inc. v. Roll Int'l, 231 F.3d 82, 86 (2d Cir. 2000)).

         With respect to pro se litigants, it is well-established that "[p]ro se submissions are reviewed with special solicitude, and 'must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'" Matheson v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Tr. Co., 706 Fed.Appx. 24, 26 (2d Cir. 2017) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006) (per curiam)). See also Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (same); Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants); Boykin v. KeyCorp., 521 F.3d 202, 214 (2d Cir. 2008) ("A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.") (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)); Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant, 537 F.3d 185, 191 (2d Cir. 2008) (instructing that where the plaintiff proceeds pro se, a court is "obliged to construe his pleadings liberally") (quoting McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d Cir. 2004)); Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007) ("In reviewing a pro se complaint, the court must assume the truth of the allegations, and interpret them liberally to "raise the strongest arguments [they] suggest[].").

         Despite being subject to liberal interpretation, a pro se plaintiff's complaint still must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Mancuso v. Hynes, 379 Fed.Appx. 60, 61 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Therefore, even in a pro se case, "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Chavis v. Chappius, 618 F.3d 162, 170 (2d Cir. 2010) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Nor may the Court "invent factual allegations" that the plaintiff has not pleaded. Id.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Effect of Ashby's June 2018 Resentencing

         After Plaintiff Campbell was resentenced in April 2018, the Court considered the question of what impact his resentencing had on his pending claims. The Court now turns to this same ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.