United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C.
JEFFREY ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Luis Galarza is a sentenced prisoner in the custody of the
Connecticut Department of Correction. He has filed this
complaint pro se and in forma pauperis
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to challenge his treatment by
prison officials in connection with a security investigation
that disclosed Galarza's use of an iPhone in prison. For
the reasons set forth below, I conclude that Galarza has not
alleged facts that give rise to plausible grounds for relief
as any of his constitutional claims. Therefore, I will
dismiss the complaint without prejudice.
facts here involve Galarza's detention in 2018 at
Cheshire Correctional Institution (Cheshire) and
MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution (MacDougall).
Galarza names seventeen defendants, all of whom are officials
of the Connecticut Department of Correction: Wardens Scott
Erfe, William Mulligan, and Hannal; Commissioner Scott S.
Semple; Deputy Commissioner Monica Rinaldi; RHU
Administrators James Watson and D. Synott; Lieutenants Boyd
and Schneider; Correctional Officers Peracchio, Wright,
“Laone/John Smith, ” Vergas, and Verdura;
Administrative Remedies Coordinator Boyd-Carter; Health
Services Staff “Cruz/Jane Smith”; and
Investigator CC Green. All dates referenced in the complaint
took place in 2018.
January 26, 2018, Lieutenant Boyd and Officers Wright,
Vergas, Verdura, and Peracchio entered Galarza's cell
while he was sleeping. Wright and Peracchio jumped on him,
put him in handcuffs, and escorted him to the restrictive
housing unit (“RHU”). Peracchio twisted
Galarza's hands into such an awkward position during the
escort that Galarza asked him to stop using so much force.
Upon reaching the dayroom, the officers asked Galarza if he
had any problems with their strip search policy. He said he
did not, though he did not know what the policy was. When
they asked Galarza to spread his buttocks with his hands, he
felt that his rights were being violated. He said nothing,
however, because Boyd was holding a can of mace, and Galarza
feared that he would use the chemical agent. After the
search, Galarza was given a red jumpsuit and placed in RHU
cell 22. Doc. #1 at 9.
January 29, the same officers questioned Galarza about an
iPhone found in inmate Angel Lorenzo's cell. Galarza said
he had not used the phone and asked whether anyone had found
a phone in his possession or in his cell. Boyd said no, but
Verdura said that he knew that Galarza had used the phone.
The officers asked Galarza if he knew which correctional
officer had brought the phone into the facility. He responded
that no phone had been found in his possession and that he
did not know who had brought it in. Id. at 9-10.
days later, the officers questioned Galarza a second time,
this time with additional information from a confidential
informant. They showed Galarza copies of phone records but
did not permit him to read them. Vergas told Galarza that the
list contained numbers he had called, and the officers
charged him with possession of contraband even though inmate
Lorenzo had confessed to exclusive possession of the phone.
The officers threatened Galarza with criminal charges, and
Verdura threatened his family. Boyd threatened to place him
on high security status. Vergas and Verdura began talking
about his confidential legal matters and reading his legal
documents. Vergas and Verdura told him that everything could
“disappear” if he told them who brought the
iPhone into the facility. Boyd gave him 24 hours to think
about helping the officers. Id. at 10-11.
February 22, Galarza received two disciplinary reports.
Id. at 13, 43-44 (copies of the disciplinary
reports). The reports charged Galarza with use of a
contraband iPhone, stating that “the Cheshire CI
Intelligence Unit was able to verify inmate Galarza knowingly
possessed, used and orchestrated the conveyance of the
contraband I-Phone into the facility.” Id. at
March 1, Galarza received a restrictive housing unit status
order stating that he would remain in RHU until he got
transferred to another facility. Id. at 15. A
disciplinary hearing regarding the alleged cell phone
possession took place on March 14. Galarza waived his right
to appear at the disciplinary hearing. Although he pleaded
not guilty, the hearing officer found him guilty on both
charges. Id. at 16, 75-77 (disciplinary process
summary reports). The disciplinary report findings detailed
how the internal investigation had linked Galarza to data on
the recovered iPhone. Ibid. On March 18, Galarza
appealed both disciplinary findings. Id. at 17.
meantime, on or about March 15, Galarza was transferred from
Cheshire to MacDougall. See Id. at 79, 83, 87. On
April 9, he was placed on High Security Status at MacDougall.
Galarza alleges that the form he received about this
classification was missing a date, the name of the staff
member who made the high security decision, or a date for a
hearing, in violation of his due process rights. Id.
at 17, Doc. #13 at 4.
submitted at least fifteen grievances and inmate request
forms between January 26, 2018, the date of the initial
incident, and August 7, 2018, when he drafted his amended
complaint. On February 5, he sent an inmate request form to
Captain Watson complaining about the strip search procedure,
and another complaining that Watson made his own policy and
did not follow department directives. Doc. #1 at 11. On
February 8, Galarza submitted a Freedom of Information Act
(“FOIA”) request seeking copies of the phone
records for the iPhone. The request was denied because the
investigation was ongoing. Ibid. On February 12,
Galarza spoke to the investigator, Officer Wright, and asked
why he had been in the RHU for 17 days without receiving a
disciplinary ticket and despite department policy permitting
only 14 days for investigation. Wright responded that he had
the authority to request an additional 14 days for the
investigation. Galarza never received notification of any
extension. Id. at 11-12. Galarza then submitted a
grievance form about his RHU stay, which was returned for
failure to attach documentation of an attempt at informal
resolution. Id. at 12, 30-32.
February 20, Galarza wrote to Watson stating that his privacy
was not respected while speaking to his attorney.
Id. at 13. He also complained to the prison warden
that he had been in RHU for 26 days without disciplinary
charges or notification of an extension of time to
investigate. Galarza threatened civil action if he was not
released from RHU. On February 22, Galarza submitted another
FOIA request for phone records and physical evidence, which
was again denied on the grounds that the investigation was
still ongoing, though Galarza alleges that it was complete.
Ibid. He submitted another inmate request form to
Captain Watson about being placed in a “nasty, dirty,
rusty cell, ” and he wrote to Health Services staff
complaining that he had been in RHU for 31 days without being
seen by mental health staff. Departmental directives require
that any inmate on restrictive status for more than 30 days
be interviewed by a psychiatrist or psychologist.
Id. at 14; Conn. Department of Correction,
Administrative Directive 9.4, Restrictive Status, §17(D)
February 27, Galarza submitted another grievance form, which
Coordinator Boyd-Carter returned for failure to attach an
inmate request form. Id. at 14-15. Galarza then
submitted another inmate request because no disciplinary
hearing had been conducted after he received the disciplinary
reports. Captain Watson told Galarza to address this concern
to the disciplinary investigator. On March 6, Galarza wrote
an inmate request to Warden Erfe complaining that in the
restrictive housing unit there was “rust all over the
walls, mold on the air-van, dirty walls, no table to write,
” and “I'm getting charge for postage,
” and “can't use a pen on Tuesday or
Thursday.” Id. at 15-16, 68.
his transfer to MacDougall on or around March 15, Galarza
submitted a lost property investigation form and a grievance
against Watson for his time in RHU at Cheshire. Id.
at 17, 83. He also appealed his placement on high security
and asked to be removed from this status. Doc. #13 at 4-5.
His appeal was forwarded to Deputy Commissioner Rinaldi, but
Captain Synott was the one to respond to it, explaining that
the appeal was denied because it was determined, after a
review of the circumstances, that Galarza met the criteria
for high ...