United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER PURSUANTTO 28
JEFFREY ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Paul Fine, Jr., is a sentenced prisoner in the custody of the
Connecticut Department of Correction. He has filed an amended
complaint pro se and in forma pauperis
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. After an initial review, the
Court concludes that the complaint should be served on some
of the named defendants as set forth in the ruling
names many defendants, including UConn Medical Farmington CT;
Dr. Ricardo Ruiz; Nurse Jane Ventrella; Male Nurse J.
Carrara; Captains Watson and Lugo; Lieutenants Mazurek,
Marquis, Johnson, and Boyd; Correctional Officers Wagner and
Johnson; DR Investigator Wright; Grievance Coordinator Boyd;
Correctional Officers Adams, Whitehead, St. John, Deveau, and
Leone; CERT Team Correctional Officers Reyas, Lytell,
Johnson, and Stolfi; Boswell; Bachi; Edwards; and numerous
“John Doe” defendants.
has filed an initial and amended complaint. Docs. #1 and #23.
His complaints run many pages in length and combine scores of
allegations in a sometimes confusing fashion. The following
facts are drawn from the complaints and accepted as true
solely for purposes of this initial review order. First, I
will review facts concerning Fine's medical complaints,
and then I will review facts concerning other alleged
misconduct by prison officials.
suffers from a lifelong seizure disorder which was diagnosed
shortly after his incarceration in 1991. The condition causes
him to suffer grand mal and lesser seizures which are often
induced by stress. Doc. #23 at 6 (¶ 2). The Department
of Correction has permanently assigned Fine to a bottom bunk
because of the disorder. Ibid. (¶ 3).
condition was aggravated when he suffered head trauma while
incarcerated. In 1991, correctional officers threatened him
with force if he did not move to an upper bunk.
Ibid. (¶ 4). Fine complied with the order. He
had a grand mal seizure while in the upper bunk. Fine fell,
shattering the porcelain toilet with his head and neck.
Ibid. (¶ 5). He suffered a concussion and other
injuries. Ibid. (¶ 6). He also was subjected to
use of force in 2009 by officers who accused him of faking a
seizure. Id. at 7 (¶¶ 7-8). These
incidents have left him suffering psychological effects
similar to PTSD. Ibid. (¶ 10).
has submitted many complaints to UConn Medical because the
medical unit at Cheshire Correctional Institution
(“Cheshire”) has not responded to his
“serious medical inquiries and serious health concerns,
” including long-lasting migraine headaches, a painful,
growing lump over his left eye, and psychotropic medication
for “seizure proneality” as a result of a prior
head injury. Doc. #1 at 11. Neither UConn nor the Cheshire
medical unit have addressed Fine's medical concerns about
these conditions. Id. at 11-12. Fine believes that
further investigation is necessary, such as an x-ray or MRI
to determine the cause of the lump on his forehead.
Id. at 12.
April 3, 2017, Nurse Carrara refused Fine's request for
x-ray or MRI, stating, “[N]o we don't do that
here.” Carrara also refused to permit him to see Dr.
Ruiz and required him to sign to pay $3.00 for a box of
ibuprofen that he could purchase at the commissary for $1.86.
Fine filed a medical grievance against Carrara.
April 7, 2017, Nurse Ventrella called Fine to the medical
unit to discuss withdrawing the grievance. Fine's knee
was swollen, and he had to hop to the medical unit.
Ibid. Ventrella gave him an ice pack for his swollen
knee. Fine withdrew the grievance against Carrara because
Ventrella stated that she would put him on the list to see
Dr. Ruiz about his head issues. But Ventrella did not do
so. Id. at 13. Fine then refiled the medical
grievance against Carrara. Ibid. He then
“signed himself up” to see Dr. Ruiz about his
head and knee. He encountered difficulty from the medical
unit when doing so. Ibid.
April 12, 2017, correctional officers and a nurse in the
housing unit twice told Fine that he had been called to the
medical unit. After long waits in the medical unit, nurses
told him that they did not call him. Ibid. At
unspecified times, Fine experienced other “coincidental
mishaps” that he perceives as intended to harass or
aggravate him. Id. at 14. The Cheshire medical unit
also refused to examine him for “musa” relating
to the injury over his eye. Ibid.
Ruiz saw Fine for his injured knee on May 26, 2017, three
months after Nurse Ventrella gave him the ice
pack. Ibid. Dr. Ruiz diagnosed a
degenerative knee injury. He refused to issue Fine a knee
brace, cane, crutch or ace bandage. Id. at 15. Over
the years, Fine saw other inmates with knee injuries receive
braces, canes, ace bandages and pain medication. He had to
purchase an ace bandage. Ibid.
received a flyer stating that UConn Medical and the Cheshire
medical unit were doing a psychological study on the effects
of anger and frustration on older inmates and how the inmates
dealt with being forced into difficult situations. The flyer
solicited participation in the study. Id. at 16.
Fine refused to participate but believes that he has been a
non-consenting participant in the study. Id. at
August 28, 2017, Fine filed a medical grievance against Dr.
Ruiz. When it was clear that Fine would continue to pursue
the issue, Dr. Ruiz saw him and gave him an ace bandage that
was too narrow for his injury. Id. at 17. Fine filed
another medical grievance about the bandage. Ibid.
Two days later he was called to the medical unit. Although he
was the second inmate in line, behind another man of color,
Fine was made to wait over an hour while four later-arriving
inmates were seen. Id. at 17-18. He had to urinate
but was denied permission to use the medical unit bathroom.
When he returned to his housing unit to urinate, the nurse
noted that he refused the ace bandage. Id. at 18.
has a family history of colon cancer. He has developed
“an internal condition” but is concerned that he
will not receive proper treatment if he seeks medical
assistance from the Cheshire medical unit. Ibid.
has filed lawsuits against correctional officers and medical
staff at Cheshire and UConn for medical mistreatment,
retaliation, and deliberate indifference. Doc. #23 at 8
(¶ 2). In Unit South 4, during mealtimes, defendant
Reyas would close Fine's cell door, sometimes not letting
him out to eat. Fine thought he was singled out as an example
to the unit because another inmate filed a misconduct
complaint against defendant Reyas. Ibid. (¶ 3).
This conduct continued until Fine wrote to the mental health
unit asking how to handle an officer who locked him in his
cell at mealtime. Ibid. (¶ 4).
Stolfi was working at MacDougall Correctional Institution and
was named by Fine in a lawsuit filed in 2009. Defendant
Stolfi was often present in South 4 when Fine was locked in
his cell during mealtime. He also refused to permit Fine to
leave his cell. Id. at 8-9 (¶ 5).
this same time, defendant Lytell refused to permit Fine to
leave his cell for his work assignment as a
“tierman” or to obtain his medications at
medication call. Id. at 9 (¶ 6). When defendant
Lytell was in South 4, Fine was regularly mistreated to
elicit a negative response. When Fine did not respond,
defendant Lytell let inmates not on Fine's work detail
out of their cells to create conflict and antagonize him.
Ibid. (¶ 7). Defendant Lytell fired Fine from
his job and told him to write to the unit counselor if he
wanted the job back. Ibid. (¶ 8).
Lytell had CERT Team Officer Johnson search Fine's cell
and threaten to send him to segregation. Johnson announced to
the unit that the cell search was in retaliation for Fine
writing a grievance against defendant Lytell. Id. at
10 (¶ 10). Defendants Lytell and Johnson ordered Fine to
pack his property and wait for hours to be sent to
segregation. At the end of their shift, they laughed at him
and did not send him to segregation. Ibid. (¶
11). This harassment was in retaliation for Fine writing to
the unit counselor to keep his job, an action defendant
Lytell directed him to take. Ibid. (¶ 12).
23, 2018, Fine was involved in a minor fight in South 4.
Immediately thereafter, Officer Adams handcuffed him in the
presence of the entire unit and took him to segregation.
Id. at 11 (¶ 14). There was no time after the
fight for Fine to hide anything in his rectum. Nothing
occurred during recreation that would suggest such an action,
and Fine has no history of concealing contraband in his
rectum. Nothing occurred that would cause correctional staff
to suspect such conduct. Ibid. (¶ 15).
reaching segregation, Fine was ordered to undergo a strip
search. The search was conducted in the presence of
heterosexual and homosexual male correctional staff and
homosexual male nurses. He was required to bend and spread
his buttocks. Fine considered this action “an extremely
sexualized and offensive act in submi[ss]ion to authority not
as standard professional DOC policy . . . as a
humiliation.” Ibid. (¶ 16). He did not
refuse the naked strip search on camera but did refuse to
bend and spread his buttocks. Defendant Whitehead threatened
him for refusing. Id. at 11-12 (¶ 18).
was shackled in black box wrist restraints as punishment. He
was unable to move his arms. His hands and feet were
restrained for three days. At no time were the restraints
removed to permit him to urinate of defecate. Id. at
12 (¶ 19). Defendant Lieutenant Marquis left Fine in a
cell with his clothing, blanket, and mattress urine-soaked
for three days. Ibid. (¶ 20). When Fine asked
Marquis to uncuff his wrists so he could urinate, defendant
Marquis told him that he was smart and “good with
lawsuits” so he could find a way to uncuff himself.
Ibid. (¶ 21). Marquis further humiliated Fine
by calling him “Pee pants” and directing the
other officers and inmates in segregation to use that
nickname. Ibid. (¶ 22). Inmates released from
segregation and correctional staff told South 4 about the
incident. Id. at 13 (¶ 24).
along with nurses and officers, including some named in the
original complaint, checked on Fine during the three days.
Ibid. (¶ 27). The nurses refused to intervene
on Fine's behalf or acknowledge any risk to his health as
an older inmate on seizure medication by constant exposure to
urine. Id. (¶ 28). The nurses also pretended
not to see cuff bruising on his wrist. Id. at 14
(¶ 29). They refused to treat the bruises, ...