United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §
Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
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 (¶
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