United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
A. Dooley United States District Judge.
November 23, 2018, the Plaintiff, Treizy Treizon Lopez, an
inmate currently confined at the Northern Correctional
Institution in Somers, Connecticut, brought a civil action
pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against ten
Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”)
officials in their individual and official capacities:
Commissioner Scott Semple, District Administrator Edward
Maldonado, Warden Kenneth Butricks, Captain Salvatore,
Correction Officer Lis, Correction Officer Garibaldi,
Correction Officer White, Counselor Mala, Counselor Fortin,
and Lieutenant Eberle. Compl. (DE#1). The Plaintiff is suing
the Defendants for violating his First, Fourth, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendment rights while he was confined at the
Manson Youth Institution (“MYI”) in Cheshire,
Connecticut and the MacDougall-Walker Correctional
Institution (“MWCI”) in Suffield, Connecticut. He
seeks monetary, injunctive, and declaratory relief. On
December 5, 2018, Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel
granted the Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma
pauperis. See Order No. 8.
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review prisoner civil
complaints and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is
frivolous or malicious, that 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. Although
detailed allegations are not required, the complaint must
include sufficient facts to afford the Defendants fair notice
of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and
to demonstrate a right to relief. Bell Atlantic v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Conclusory
allegations are not sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The Plaintiff must plead
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic, 550
U.S. at 570. Nevertheless, it is well-established that
“[p]ro se complaints ‘must be
construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest
arguments that they suggest.'” Sykes v. Bank of
America, 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting
Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471,
474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater,
623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules
of solicitude for pro se litigants).
April of 2018, while being transferred from MYI to the
Bridgeport Correctional Center (“BCC”), the
Plaintiff was found to be in possession of compact discs
(“CDs”), which are considered contraband. Compl.
¶ 88. A correction officer at BCC gave the Plaintiff an
ultimatum of either revealing the identity of the person who
gave him the CDs or receiving a Class A disciplinary report
(“DR”) for possession of contraband. Id.
Because the Plaintiff was unwilling to cooperate with the
staff, he was placed in segregation immediately upon his
arrival at BCC. Id. The following day, the Plaintiff
was released from segregation, and his Class A DR was reduced
to a Class B DR. Id. at ¶ 89.
20, 2018, the Plaintiff was transferred from BCC back to MYI
without notice that most of his personal property would be
left behind at BCC. Compl. ¶¶ 14-15. He asked
Correction Officer White why he had not been provided with
all of his property. Id. at ¶ 17. White told
the Plaintiff that, when the rest of his property arrives
from BCC, it would have to be inspected by Correction Officer
Lis because the Plaintiff was previously found to be in
possession of contraband. Id. The Plaintiff signed
for the property that had arrived and proceeded to his
housing unit. Id.
next day, the remaining property arrived at MYI. Compl.
¶ 18. Although it had already been inspected at BCC and
cleared of any contraband, Correction Officer White conducted
another search and found a one-dollar bill, another
contraband item. Id. at ¶¶ 19-20. The bill
was discovered in a manila envelope that belonged to the
Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 21. After White's
search, the Plaintiff's property was stored in the MYI
storage room. Id. at ¶ 19.
26, Officer Lis conducted another “targeted
search” of the Plaintiff's property, even though it
had been stored in the storage room and was only accessible
to MYI staff. Compl. ¶¶ 23-24. As a result of the
search, the Plaintiff was brought to segregation and placed
on administrative detention pending a security risk group
(“SRG”) affiliation. Id. at ¶ 26.
He received a DR for the SRG affiliation, and Officer White
issued him a DR for possession of contraband for the
one-dollar bill that was discovered in his personal items.
Id. at ¶¶ 26-27. The Plaintiff was placed
in segregation, but he never received copies of the DRs or
any other written notice of the allegations. Id. at
housed in segregation at MYI, the Plaintiff asked Correction
Officer Garibaldi for copies of the DRs for his review.
Compl. ¶ 31. He also requested that White and Lis be
interviewed as witnesses for his disciplinary hearing.
Id. Garibaldi denied both requests but told the
Plaintiff that he would dismiss the DRs if the Plaintiff gave
him information on how CDs were being smuggled into MYI.
Id. The Plaintiff refused to provide any information
to Garibaldi and told him that he needed Lis's and
White's testimony and copies of the DRs for his defense.
Id. at ¶¶ 31-32. Garibaldi replied,
“[Correction Officers] cannot be witnesses and
there's no need for you to see any evidence because no
matter what we're going to make sure the [disciplinary
hearing officer] smokes you since you wanna make [our] job
harder.” Id. at ¶ 32. Garibaldi also told
the Plaintiff that a DR for SRG affiliation could not be
challenged unless it is the inmate's first offense and
that, if he does not plead guilty to that DR, he would
receive another DR for disobeying a direct order.
Id. at ¶ 33.
of what Garibaldi told him, the Plaintiff pleaded guilty to
the SRG DR out of fear of receiving another DR for disobeying
a direct order. Compl. ¶ 34. He pleaded not guilty to
the contraband DR issued by White. Id. at ¶ 35.
assigned Counselor Mala to be the Plaintiff's advisor for
the contraband DR hearing instead of allowing the Plaintiff
to choose from a list of advocates per DOC policy. Compl.
¶ 36. Mala interviewed the Plaintiff shortly before his
hearing. Id. at ¶ 37. During the interview, the
Plaintiff asked Mala to seek information from Lis and White,
but Mala told him that correction officers were “not
allowed to be . . . witnesses [for inmates] and [that]
there's no need for an investigation because we all know
you'r[e] guilty.” Id. at ¶ 38. Mala
was later relieved of his duty as the Plaintiff's advisor
and replaced with Counselor Grey just minutes for the
disciplinary hearing on July 10, 2018. Id. at
day of the hearing, the Plaintiff met briefly with Counselor
Grey, who also told him that correction officers could not
serve as witnesses for inmates and refused to do any
investigation because the hearing was only minutes away.
Compl. ¶ 41. The Plaintiff was then “rushed
into” Captain Salvatore's office for the hearing
and appeared before Salvatore and Lieutenant Eberle, the
disciplinary hearing officer. Id. at ¶ 42.
During the hearing, he asked Salvatore and Eberle why he had
not been shown any of the evidence against him or why Lis and
White had not been interviewed per his request. Id.
at ¶ 43. Eberle responded that correction officers were
not permitted to be witnesses, that it was the
Plaintiff's word against that of staff members, and that
he was “going to have to take staff's word and find
[the Plaintiff] guilty due to the fact that [he] was
[previously] caught with CDs.” Id. Salvatore
agreed with Eberle's decision. Id. Thus, the
Plaintiff was found guilty of the contraband DR. Id.
leaving Salvatore's office and returning to the
segregation unit, the Plaintiff asked Salvatore and Eberle
whether the guilty finding would have any effect on his SRG
program placement. Compl. ¶ 46. Eberle told him that his
SRG placement would be determined by a separate
classification hearing. Id. However, the Plaintiff
was never given a separate classification hearing for his SRG
placement. Id. at ¶ 47.
result of both guilty findings, the Plaintiff received as
sanctions twenty-eight days of punitive segregation and 115
days loss of phone and commissary privileges. Compl.
¶¶ 49-50. The Plaintiff spent twenty-two of those
days on administrative detention and the remaining six days
on transfer detention, awaiting his transfer to the SRG
program. Id. at ¶ 51.
his time in segregation at MYI, the Plaintiff lost several
privileges, including legal calls, mail, visitations,
exercise, fruit, dessert, dinner snack juice, writing
utensils, inmate request forms, and laundry services. Compl.
¶¶ 54, 56-58, 65-66, 79-80. He was provided with
only one set of clean clothing per week and forced to shower
in unsanitary conditions and with cold water. Id. at
¶ 59, 69. The cells in the segregation unit were
unclean, smelled of urine and feces, and contained several
insects. Id. at ¶¶ 60, 63. The Plaintiff
was told by correction officers that, if he killed any of the
insects, he would be issued another DR. Id. at
¶ 63. The bed in the Plaintiff's cell was rusted and
contained dirty sheets and blankets. Id. at ¶
61. The segregation unit was also freezing, and when the
Plaintiff complained about the temperature to Salvatore and
Counselor Fortin, the Defendants told him to “stop
bitching” and to “grow some balls. You're in
jail. You're not supposed to like it.” Id.
at ¶ 71.
in segregation, the Plaintiff “was denied any means to
practice his religion [and] deprived [of] any form of
religious services . . . .” Compl. ¶ 85. Any
religious material that he requested during his time in
segregation was denied by correctional staff. Id.
The Plaintiff was also denied medical treatment for his dry
skin and rashes and his inhaler, which caused him to endure
difficulty breathing. Id. at ¶¶ 81,
112-13. As a result of these deprivations, the Plaintiff
suffered from emotional distress, nightmares, suicidal
thoughts, insomnia, insect bites, extreme headaches, itchy
dry skin and rashes, and loss of weight. Id. at
a routine tour of the segregation unit, the Plaintiff asked
Warden Butricks and Salvatore why he and other inmates in
segregation had to deal with so many deprivations. Compl.
¶ 74. Butricks stated that MYI is run differently than
the adult prisons and that he “see[s] no problem with
the way that Joanne punishes the youth who break . . . rules
and policies.” Id.
18, 2018, the Plaintiff was released from the administrative
detention portion of his segregation placement and placed on
transfer detention status. Compl. ¶ 75. While on
transfer detention status in the segregation unit, he was
subjected to the same deprivations. Id.
24, 2018, the Plaintiff was transferred from the segregation
unit at MYI to the SRG housing unit at MWCI. Compl. ¶
92. Prior to leaving MYI, the Plaintiff requested to review
his property matrix and verify the contents of all of his
personal property, but MYI staff refused to grant his
request. Id. at ¶¶ 92-93. When he arrived
at MWCI, he noticed that his television and A/C adapter were
not listed on his property matrix. Id. at ¶ 94.
MWCI staff was unable to determine the status of his missing
property and told the Plaintiff to file a lost property
claim. Id. at ¶ 95. Afterward, the Plaintiff
was escorted to the SRG housing unit at MWCI. Id. at
¶ 96. When on route to the SRG unit, the escorting
officer told the Plaintiff that there were no inmate request
forms, lost property claim forms, or administrative remedy
forms in the unit and that the Plaintiff would have to wait
until the following day to submit a form. Id. at
Plaintiff was not provided with an administrative remedy form
until August 2, 2018, which he used to appeal Eberle's
disciplinary finding. Compl. ¶¶ 99-100. On October
2, District Administrator Maldonado denied the
Plaintiff's appeal because it was filed more than fifteen
days after the disciplinary hearing on July 10, 2018.
Id. at ¶ 102. The Plaintiff was unable to
appeal Eberle's decision while in segregation at MYI
because he had not been provided with writing utensils or
proper remedy forms. Id. at ¶ 104.
September 26 and October 18, while at MWCI, the Plaintiff
filed over seven grievances regarding his concerns, which
resulted in his placement on grievance restriction. Compl.
¶ 142. He also sent a letter to Commissioner Semple