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Awad v. Moskites

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 4, 2019

OMAR AWAD, Plaintiff,
v.
C/O MOSKITES et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

          Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Omar Awad is a prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction at Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown, Connecticut. Proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, on July 16, 2018, he filed a civil complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against several correctional officials for violating his constitutional rights. Doc. #1. Awad then filed four motions to amend his complaint, see Doc. #10; Doc. #15; Doc. #27; Doc. #29, all of which I denied because they consisted of piecemeal amendments to his initial complaint and did not include a properly formatted amended complaint. See Doc. #28; Doc. #30.

         On December 3, 2018, Awad filed an amended complaint against 23 correctional officials and affiliated departments: Officers Moskites, Dane, and Todd LaPlace; Counselor Zentek; Captain Gallo; Warden John Alves; Deputy Wardens Daniel Borges and Thomas Hunt; six John Doe correctional officers; Doctors Gerald Velletta and Ricardo Ruiz; the University of Connecticut Health Center, University of Connecticut Health Center Correctional Managed Health Care (“CMHC”); another four hospital-affiliated John Does; and Commissioner Scott Semple. Doc. #31 at 1-2, 19-20 (¶¶ 20-23). Awad alleges that the defendants violated his Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment and his Fourteenth Amendment rights under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses. Id. at 22 (¶¶ 1-3). I now review that complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and will dismiss all of the complaint except for Awad's claim against Zentek for deliberate indifference to his safety.

         Background

         The following facts are alleged in the amended complaint and are accepted as true only for purposes of this ruling. Sometime around late August 2015 Awad was incarcerated at Manson Youth Institution. Id. at 9, 12 (¶ 1, 31). While Awad was on lockdown, Counselor Zentek called Awad into his office so that Awad could make a legal call. Id. at 12 (¶ 31). While Awad was in the office, he told Zentek that “someone on the high side (cells 7 through 12) [had been] threatening [sic] him and . . . that he d[id] not feel safe.” Ibid. (¶ 32).

         About three weeks later, at approximately 11:00 a.m. on September 16, 2015, Awad was asleep in his cell in D Cottage at Manson. Id. at 9 (¶ 1). His cellmate had left his cell to go to lunch while he was sleeping. Id. (¶ 2). A short time later, Awad was suddenly awoken by a slap to his right ear and a man pressing his weight against Awad's chest so hard that it made it difficult for him to breathe. Id. (¶ 3). The individual then pulled the bedsheet over Awad's head and began to beat him with closed fists, causing Awad to lose consciousness and damaging his face. Id. at 10 (¶¶ 4-5). The assault continued “until the doors opened for the end[] of the lunch period.” Ibid. (¶ 6). When he regained consciousness, Awad managed to push the individual off him, and the individual then ran out of the cell. Ibid. (¶ 7). The individual who assaulted him was later identified as another inmate named Isaiah Crespo. Ibid. (¶ 9).

         When Awad looked in the mirror, he discovered that his nose had “shifted to the right, ” his left eye was “swollen shut, ” he could not hear out of his right ear, and he had several cuts and bruises to his face. Ibid. (¶ 8). He also vomited several times, which indicated to him that he had suffered a concussion. Ibid. (¶ 10).

         Two days later, Officer LaPlace came to Awad's cell and discovered what had happened to him. Id. at 11 (¶ 11). Laplace escorted Awad to the medical unit where he was assessed by a nurse. Ibid. (¶ 12). Awad informed two correctional officials in the medical unit who are not named as defendants what had happened, that he was afraid to leave his cell, and that he did not report the incident immediately because he was afraid of how inmate Crespo might respond. Ibid. (¶¶ 13-14).

         Officials then brought Awad to the emergency room at the UConn Health Center. Ibid. (¶ 15). There, clinical officials confirmed that Awad had suffered damage to his left eye and right ear, and had also suffered a deviated septum. Ibid. (¶ 16). Awad also discovered that he had suffered damage to his jaw, which hurts when he eats, and that his nose had been broken. Ibid. He continues to suffer pain in his back, neck, and the left side of his face. Ibid. (¶ 17).

         On September 19, Awad returned to Manson and remained in the medical unit for approximately one week until he was stable enough to return to his housing unit. Ibid. (¶ 18). He was provided with pain medication, but he continues to suffer physical and emotional distress from the assault. Ibid. (¶¶ 18-19).

         Awad contends that Manson staff had failed to undertake a number of their duties when he was assaulted. Ibid. (¶ 20). He asserts that it is their job to perform daily cell inspections and ensure that (1) all cell doors are secured during meal times, (2) all inmates are seated during meal times, and (3) all inmates are in their assigned cells. Ibid. Their failure to fulfill those obligations permitted inmate Crespo to assault him, which Awad argues constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.” Ibid. (¶¶ 20-21). He alleges that, had the Manson officials “done the[ir] job and stuck to the rule[s] . . . [the assault] could have been avoided.” Ibid. (¶ 21).

         When Awad reviewed the reports that had been generated from the assault, he discovered that Officers Moskites and Dane had been assigned to D Cottage at Manson at the time of the assault. Id. at 12 (¶¶ 24-26). John Does 1-6 also worked in the same unit at Manson around the time of the assault. Id. at 13 (¶ 40). They “were well aware of [Awad's] injuries but refused . . . to report the incident [sic] and protect [him].” Ibid. (¶ 41). Both Moskites and Dane wrote statements in response to a request from Captain Gallo, who supervises D Cottage. Id. at 12 (¶¶ 27-28). Gallo conducted an investigation and asked Moskites, Dane, and Counselor Zentek to write reports detailing the assault. Ibid. (¶ 29).

         Inmate Crespo ultimately admitted to Gallo that he had entered Awad's cell during lunchtime on September 16 but falsely claimed that Awad had hit him first. Ibid. (¶¶ 33-34). Officials issued Crespo a disciplinary ticket for the assault but did not issue one to Awad. Ibid. (¶ 36). Crespo pleaded guilty to threatening and assaulting Awad. Ibid. (¶ 37).

         Some time later, Awad submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the incident report and the names of all staff members present during the assault, but the response he received redacted the names of the officials involved. Ibid. (¶ 39). Awad was later transferred from Manson to Cheshire Correctional Institution and then to Garner Correctional Institution. Id. at 13 (¶ 42).

         Awad alleges that Dr. Velletta, who supervises the medical departments at Manson and Garner, is refusing to provide him with medical joint braces for the injuries he sustained from the assault. Id. at 6 (¶ 18), 13 (¶ 45). Dr. Ruiz, who supervises the medical department at Cheshire, stopped prescribing pain medication for Awad and refused to see him, which caused Awad to endure extreme pain from his injuries. Id. at 6 (¶ 19), 13 (¶ 46), 18 (¶ 17). Both doctors “failed to provide I the ...


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