United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
JEFFREY ALKER MEYER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Errol DeHaney is a prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut
Department of Correction. He filed this lawsuit alleging that
he was removed from his job as a tutor at the prison school
and given an unfavorable work evaluation report that has
prevented him from returning to work as a tutor. DeHaney
contends that these actions were in retaliation for
complaints he lodged about the teacher for whom he worked. He
has filed this lawsuit against the teacher-defendant Amy
Chagnon-and the prison school's principal-defendant Maria
Pirro Simmons-alleging claims for retaliation against his
right to free speech under the First Amendment and for
violation of his right to equal protection under the
have now moved for summary judgment. I will grant their
motion in large part and deny it in part. A trial shall
proceed solely as to DeHaney's First Amendment
retaliation claim to the extent that it is based on issuance
of an unfavorable work evaluation report and only to the
extent that DeHaney seeks expungement of the report or any
other appropriate declaratory or injunctive relief for which
he has standing.
following facts are based on the parties' submissions and
are viewed in the light most favorable to DeHaney. At all
relevant times, DeHaney was incarcerated at MacDougall-
Walker Correctional Institution (“MacDougall”).
On March 13, 2015, he was assigned to work as a tutor in the
classroom of defendant Amy Chagnon at the prison school. At
that time, Chagnon regularly taught two groups of students in
morning classes. DeHaney regularly tutored students during
those timeframes. In the afternoons, Chagnon regularly taught
only one student, and DeHaney performed miscellaneous duties
during that time. Doc. #49-1 at 2.
briefing includes extensive allegations that he perceived
Chagnon to be flirtatious and sexually suggestive with her
students. He also claims that she had an inappropriate sexual
relationship with one particular student. Id. at
2-9. Because I am required at this stage to view the facts in
the light most favorable to DeHaney, I assume these
allegations solely for purposes of this ruling.
October 2015 and until November 12, 2015, defendant Maria
Pirro (a.k.a Maria Pirro Simmons) served as the principal of
the prison school. Doc. #41-2 at 2. At some point prior to
October 23, 2015, DeHaney became aware that Pirro was leaving
her position and would soon be replaced by a new principal.
Doc. #49-1 at 10.
October 23, 2015, Chagnon told DeHaney that she no longer
required his services as a tutor. DeHaney speculated that the
reason for Chagnon's decision was that she feared that,
if she continued to use a tutor, the incoming principal to
replace Pirro would require Chagnon to teach afternoon
classes. DeHaney then wrote a letter to another teacher
requesting to serve as her classroom tutor. Id. at
October 26, 2015, DeHaney told Counselor Grant, his housing
unit counselor, that Chagnon had informed him three days
before that he was no longer needed as a tutor. He explained
to Grant that he believed this was due to Chagnon's
desire to avoid teaching afternoon classes. On October 27,
DeHaney repeated these claims to Captain Black, his housing
unit manager. Doc. #41-3 at 7-11.
meantime, according to Chagnon, she met with Deputy Warden
Guardarrama on October 26 or October 27 to discuss DeHaney.
At that meeting, Chagnon requested that DeHaney be
reclassified so that he would not work with her or be in the
school where she worked. Guardarrama explained to Chagnon
that she would have to prepare a work report explaining the
reason for this reassignment. Doc. #41-1 at 4.
then provided Guardarrama with a copy of a draft work report
she had prepared. In the report, she rated DeHaney as
excellent in three categories (attendance, initiative, and
productivity), and as fair in two categories (attitude,
overall). Doc. #41-4 at 3, 6. The report stated that DeHaney
was removed for other purposes. Guardarrama told Chagnon that
this draft work report did not reflect the reason for the
reassignment and told her to add additional language
explaining the reason for reassignment. Doc. #41-1 at 4-5,
Doc. #41-4 at 2.
asked Chagnon why she wanted DeHaney to be reassigned, and
she explained that she felt very uncomfortable around him.
She told Guardarrama that she believed that DeHaney had
become infatuated with her and had sexualized their working
relationship, leading him to make inappropriate comments.
Doc. #41-4 at 2-3. Guardarrama then researched DeHaney's
criminal history background. See State v. Dehaney,
261 Conn. 336, 340-43 (2002) (describing evidence of
DeHaney's triple murder of his wife and two young
children for which he claimed insanity and extreme emotional
disturbance). In light of this background and DeHaney's
inappropriate comments, Guardarrama determined that DeHaney
should not continue to work with Chagnon. Doc. #41-4 at 3.
then recommended that Chagnon include the following language
in her report “Engaging in conduct that constitutes, or
gives rise to, the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Reclassify without malice.” Chagnon incorporated this
change with substantially similar language into her work
report. Id. at 2-3. On November 3, 2015, Chagnon
entered the date on the revised work report and provided a
copy to Pirro who in turn signed the report as well. Doc.
#41-1 at 5-6; Doc. #41-2 at 3.
morning of November 4, 2015, DeHaney spoke again to Captain
Black about Chagnon and his claims that she was inappropriate
with student inmates. Doc. #41-3 at 11. Later that day,
Chagnon met DeHaney outside her classroom with a correctional
officer present. She presented the revised work report to him
and asked him to sign it. He refused. DeHaney believes that
he was given this negative work report in ...