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Lauray v. Hannah

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 16, 2019

HANNAH, et al . Defendants.



         Pending before this Court is the Defendants' motion to dismiss. For the reasons articulated below, the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.

         Factual Allegations

          The Plaintiff, Mark Edward Kittrell Lauray, (“Mr. Lauray” or the “Plaintiff”) is presently incarcerated. On June 10, 2014, he initiated this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action by way of a pro se complaint. The operative complaint is the Amended Complaint, which was initially filed by then-pro se Mr. Lauray on December 8, 2014 and re-filed by Mr. Lauray's counsel on October 13, 2016 after perfecting service of process. The Amended Complaint names the Connecticut Department of Corrections and several correctional personnel as defendants (collectively, the “Defendants”).

         This case arises out of Mr. Lauray's transfer from MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution to Garner Correctional Institution (“Garner”) on June 7, 2012. The day after his transfer, Mr. Lauray's counselor realized, based on his last name, that he was the ex-husband of a correctional officer at that facility (“Ms. Lauray”). The mistake was explained to Mr. Lauray, who was assured that Ms. Lauray was not working that day and that he would be transferred to another facility. At the recommendation of Captain Eason, Deputy Warden Hannah had Mr. Lauray placed in segregated housing pending his transfer to Cheshire Correctional Institution (“Cheshire”) later that day. Prior to his placement in segregated housing, Mr. Lauray was strip searched. After his arrival at Cheshire, Mr. Lauray filed multiple grievances and a sexual assault complaint in an effort to obtain redress for his treatment while at Garner.

         The Plaintiff brings claims against Captain Eason, Deputy Warden Hannah, and Officer Jenkins, all of whom work at Garner (collectively, “Garner Defendants”). The Plaintiff describes his experience at Garner as both degrading and humiliating. He contends that the strip search and his placement in segregated housing resulted from and was in retaliation for a “sexual assault” complaint Ms. Lauray had filed against Captain Eason prior to Mr. Lauray's transfer to Garner.[1]Specifically, the Plaintiff alleges that he was accused of planning harm to Captain Eason as a result of Ms. Lauray's previously filed complaint. He also alleges that “the punishment [he] endured was an act of revenge by Captain Eason” due to his ex-wife's complaint. He further alleges that Deputy Warden Hannah was party to the decision to retaliate against him as a result of Ms. Lauray's complaint.

         The Plaintiff also brings claims against several correctional officers, named and unnamed, who work at Cheshire or appear to have been involved in the handling of his complaints while at Cheshire (collectively, “Cheshire Defendants”). As to the Cheshire Defendants, the Plaintiff alleges that they did not take his grievances or complaints seriously when he sought redress for his placement in segregated housing and strip search at Garner.

         Procedural History

         On December 14, 2016, the Defendants moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint without prejudice because the Court had not conducted an initial review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Defendants acknowledged that the Plaintiff's counsel technically filed the Amended Complaint, but they correctly observed that Mr. Lauray initially filed that complaint while he was still proceeding pro se. The Plaintiff responded that § 1915A screening was no longer required because he was represented by counsel. The Plaintiff further argued that even if § 1915A screening were required the Amended Complaint should not be dismissed because a claim for “[r]etaliation may be inferred by the chronology of events.” The Plaintiff did not elaborate on the specific contours of his “retaliation” claim. However, the Plaintiff stated that the retaliatory act, or adverse action he suffered, was his placement in segregated housing and the strip search at Garner. He further identified Captain Eason as the driving force behind that adverse action. The Plaintiff did not argue the existence of any other viable non-retaliation claims in response to the first motion to dismiss.

         On August 14, 2017, the Court (Covello, J.) issued a ruling denying the first motion to dismiss.[2] The Court agreed that §1915A screening was unnecessary because the Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the time the Amended Complaint was filed. The Court further held that even if an initial screening was required, the Court agreed with the Plaintiff that the allegations in the Amended Complaint were “sufficient to state a claim for retaliation.”


         The Defendants have now moved to dismiss this action in its entirety for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the grounds that the Plaintiff lacks standing to assert a First Amendment retaliation claim based on a third party's (Ms. Lauray's) protected speech.[3] Unexpectedly, and notwithstanding the allegations in the complaint that were set forth above, the Plaintiff stated at oral argument that he is not asserting a third party retaliation claim based on Ms. Lauray's constitutionally protected conduct. In particular, the Plaintiff clarified that he is not claiming that his placement in segregated housing, and the accompanying strip search, were in retaliation for Ms. Lauray's complaint against Captain Eason. Nevertheless, a fair reading of the Amended Complaint includes just such a claim, and the Plaintiff did argue in his opposition memorandum that a third party retaliation claim was adequately pleaded in the Amended Complaint. Accordingly, to the extent that a third party retaliation claim is asserted and was not abandoned at oral argument, the Court considers the merits of the Defendants' second motion to dismiss.

         To survive a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, a plaintiff “must allege facts that affirmatively and plausibly suggest that it has standing to sue.” Amidax Trading Grp. v. S.W.I.F.T. SCRL, 671 F.3d 140, 145 (2d Cir. 2011). To have standing to assert the constitutional claims of another, a plaintiff must demonstrate: “(1) injury to the plaintiff, (2) a close relationship between the plaintiff and the third party that would cause plaintiff to be an effective advocate for the third party's rights, and (3) ‘some hindrance to the third party's ability to protect his or her own interests.'” Camacho v. Brandon, 317 F.3d 153, 159 (2d Cir. 2003) (quoting Campbell v. Louisiana, 523 U.S. 392, 397 (1998)). In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept as true all material factual allegations in the complaint and construe all reasonable inferences to be drawn from those factual allegations in the plaintiff's favor. Amidax Trading Grp., 671 F.3d at 145.

         Here, the Plaintiff alleges that he was strip searched and placed in segregated housing as an “act of revenge” by Captain Eason and others in retaliation for Ms. Lauray's complaint against Captain Eason. Although the Amended Complaint satisfies the first prong of Camacho, injury to the plaintiff, it does not satisfy either the second or third prongs. The Plaintiff does not allege in any fashion that Ms. Lauray is incapable of vindicating her own rights. Nor does he allege that he has a sufficiently close relationship with Ms. Lauray so as to make him an effective advocate for her rights. See Hardy v. Daly, No. 17-2906, 2018 WL 4631831, at *1 (2d Cir. Sept. 26, 2018) (holding husband lacked standing to bring constitutional claim on behalf of wife where he failed to articulate why his wife was unable to protect her own interests); Roberts v. EBay Inc., No. 6:14-cv-4904 (HMH) (MGB), 2017 WL 9289378, at *7 n.5 (D.S.C. July 29, 2017) (noting plaintiff lacked third party standing to assert claims regarding PayPal account in ex-wife's name where “there is no evidence as to the relationship between the Plaintiff and his ex-wife”). To the contrary, the Plaintiff alleges that he has been divorced from Ms. Lauray for over eighteen years, that he had no idea she was working at Garner at the time of ...

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