United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
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.
Ashby and Campbell are death row inmates at
Northern. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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
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).
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,
The Court consolidated Ashby and Campbell's cases on May
22, 2018. Doc. 12. Defendants now seek dismissal of both
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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.
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)).
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.").
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.
Effect of Ashby's June 2018
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