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Olivencia v. Pappusha

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 22, 2019

PAPPUSHA, et al., Defendants.


          Michael P. Shea, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Francisco Olivencia, currently incarcerated at the Bridgeport Correctional Center in Bridgeport, Connecticut, filed this case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He contends that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his safety in violation of the Eighth Amendment and compelled him to provide information in violation of the First Amendment. The plaintiff seeks damages from the defendants in their individual capacities and injunctive relief from them in their official capacities.

         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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This requirement applies to all prisoner filings regardless whether the prisoner pays the filing fee. Nicholson v. Lenczewski, 356 F.Supp.2d 157, 159 (D. Conn. 2005) (citing Carr v. Dvorin, 171 F.3d 115 (2d Cir. 1999) (per curiam)). Here, the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis.

         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 plausible 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.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         I. Allegations

         The plaintiff is a 27-year old inmate serving a sentence for nonviolent offenses. ECF No. 20, ¶ 8. The Department of Correction has a policy or practice of selecting inmates believed able to provide information useful in investigating suspected violations of prison rules by other inmates. Id., ¶ 21. Correctional officials promise the selected informants special benefits in exchange for information and threaten them with sanctions if the inmates do not provide information. Id. Correctional officials promise that any information provided will be kept confidential and promise to protect the informants from harm by other inmates. Id., ¶ 22. Correctional officials are aware that inmates thought to be snitches are at a severe risk of serious injury by other inmates. Id., ¶ 23. The practice is implemented through the Special Intelligence Unit of the Department of Correction. Id., ¶ 25. The meetings with the informants are not recorded or otherwise documented. Id., ¶ 24. The designation of an inmate as an informant and information about investigations the informant is assisting with are shared with officers at other correctional facilities. Id., ¶ 26.

         On August 19, 2016, the plaintiff was admitted to Bridgeport Correctional Center and designated as affiliated with the Security Risk Group (“SRG”) “Bloods.” He was housed in a Restrictive Housing Unit (“RHU”) for SRG members. Id., ¶¶ 27-28. SRG units are known to be dangerous areas of any prison because the inmates housed there are actual or suspected SRG members. Id., ¶ 29.

         In early September 2016, Officer Pappusha and another officer told the plaintiff that his SRG affiliation and, therefore, his confinement in RHU would be rescinded if the plaintiff became an informant for the Department of Correction. Id., ¶ 30. Officer Pappusha told the plaintiff that he would remain in RHU unless he agreed. He did not explain the dangers in becoming an informant but did promise that any information the plaintiff provided would remain confidential. Id., ¶ 31. Officer Pappusha gave the plaintiff a special PIN to enable the plaintiff to contact him directly by phone to relay confidential information. Id., ¶ 32. The plaintiff provided confidential information about drug and tattoo activity. Id., ¶ 33.

         On February 17, 2017, the plaintiff was transferred to Cheshire Correctional Institution (“Cheshire”). Upon his arrival, he was called to an administrative office where he was confronted by Officers Boyd, Perruchio, Kelly, Vargas, and others. Id., ¶ 34. Officers Boyd, Perruchio, Kelly, and Vargas gave the plaintiff a new PIN so he could contact them with confidential information. Id., ¶ 35. They told the plaintiff that he had not provided sufficient information to date and threatened to send him back to RHU and re-affiliate him as an SRG member if he did not provide additional confidential information. Id., ¶ 36. The plaintiff had committed no other actions that would warrant the threatened sanctions. Id., ¶ 37. Officers Boyd, Perruchio, Kelly, and Vargas understood that the plaintiff would be at serious risk of severe injury from other inmates if they returned him to RHU after they had obtained confidential information, or were thought to have obtained confidential information, from the plaintiff. Id., ¶ 38.

         After providing confidential information, the plaintiff noticed that other inmates at Cheshire suspected that he was an informant and realized that his safety was in danger. Id., ¶ 39. The plaintiff told Officer Vargas and others that he did not feel safe acting as an informant. Officer Vargas ignored him. He told the plaintiff not to report his fears and implied that, if he did, the plaintiff would be sent back to RHU where he would be injured by other inmates. Id., ¶ 40.

         Officer Boyd called the plaintiff to speak with him in the medical unit. Officer Boyd asked the plaintiff why he had not produced sufficient information implicating other inmates. The plaintiff said he had nothing to report. Id., ¶ 41. Officer Boyd told the plaintiff to fabricate evidence if he had no actual evidence to report. He implied that if the plaintiff did not provide sufficient information, he and the other officers would identify the plaintiff as a snitch in front of other inmates, thereby endangering his safety. Id., ¶ 42.

         Officers Kelly and Perruchio had the plaintiff moved to South 4 unit, even though they knew that inmates against whom the plaintiff had previously informed were housed in that unit. Id., ¶ 43. The inmates in South 4 suspected that the plaintiff was an informant. Officers Kelly and Perruchio knew or should have known this. Id., ¶ 44. Even so, Officers Kelly and Perruchio told the plaintiff to continue acting as an informant. Id., ¶ 45.

         The plaintiff thought that one particular inmate in South 4 believed he was a snitch. The plaintiff feared for his safety. When the plaintiff reported his fear of violence to Officer Perruchio, the other inmate was moved to a different housing unit. This action ensured that the inmates remaining in the housing unit would assume that the plaintiff had reported the other inmate to correctional officials. Id., ¶ 46. Inmates at Cheshire put a “green light” out for the plaintiff, meaning they invited other inmates to physically assault him. Id., ¶ 47. The plaintiff reported the green light to Officer Boyd. The plaintiff was transferred to MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution on August 11, 2017, but was returned to Cheshire on September 29, 2017. Id., ¶ 49.

         Upon his return, Officer Boyd ordered the plaintiff to continue providing confidential information about other inmates. He ignored the plaintiff's statements that he feared for his safety if he continued as an informant. Id., ¶ 50. Inmates at Cheshire put a second green light out on the plaintiff. Id., ΒΆ 51. In early November 2017, ...

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