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Williams v. Hartford

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

February 1, 2019

HARTFORD, et al. Defendants


          Kari A. Dooley United States District Judge

         Preliminary Statement of the Case

         On December 18, 2017, the plaintiff, Charles C. Williams, a prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”), filed a complaint pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the city of Hartford, Hartford Police Detective Cheryl Gogins, and DOC Correction Officer Nancy Quiros. He filed an amended complaint on July 9, 2018. After initial review, the Court, Thompson, J., permitted the plaintiff's First Amendment retaliation claim to proceed against Gogins and his Fourth Amendment unreasonable search claim to proceed against Gogins and Quiros. The Court dismissed the claim against the city of Hartford.

         On October 15 and 24, 2018, Gogins and Quiros filed separate motions to dismiss the claims against them under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). This Court granted the motions to dismiss the claims for damages against both defendants, concluding that the plaintiff had failed to sufficiently allege their personal involvement in the constitutional deprivations. Mem. of Decision Re: Mots. To Dismiss (“Mem. of Decision”) (DE#63) at 5, 8-9. Thereafter, the plaintiff filed the instant motion for reconsideration of the Court's dismissal order. Quiros countered with a written opposition to the plaintiff's motion. For the following reasons, the motion for reconsideration is GRANTED but the requested relief is DENIED except as set forth herein.

         Standard of Review

         Motions for reconsideration “will generally be denied unless the movant can point to controlling decisions or data that the [C]ourt overlooked - matters, in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the [C]ourt.” Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995); see also D. Conn. Local Rule 7(c); Sonberg v. Niagara County Jail, No. 08-CV-364 (JTC), 2013 WL 2468691, at *3 (W.D.N.Y. Jun. 7, 2013) (reconsideration generally granted only upon showing of exceptional circumstances). “[G]ranting a motion for reconsideration is only justified if there is an intervening change in controlling law, newly discovered evidence, or the need to correct clear error or prevent manifest injustice.” U.S. v. Marte, No. 3:08-CR-00004 (JCH), 2015 WL 851843, at *1 (D. Conn. Feb. 26, 2015) (citing Virgin Atl. Airways, Ltd. v. Nat'l Mediation Bd., 956 F.2d 1245, 1255 (2d Cir. 1992)). The movant may also be entitled to reconsideration if he can show that the court overlooked material facts. Id. (citing Eisemann v. Greene, 204 F.3d 393, 395 n.2 (2d Cir. 2000)). Reconsideration is not appropriate, however, when the movant seeks to relitigate the same issues or present the case under a new legal theory. See Sequa Corp. v. GBJ Corp., 156 F.3d 136, 144 (2d Cir. 1998); see also Horsehead Resource Development Co., Inc. v. B.U.S. Environmental Services, Inc., 928 F.Supp. 287, 289 (S.D.N.Y. 1996) (“[A] motion for reconsideration may not be used to plug gaps in an original argument . . . or to argue in the alternative once a decision has been made”) (citations omitted) (internal quotations omitted). These requirements apply equally to pro se litigants. Sonberg, 2013 WL 2468691, at *3.


         For purposes of this ruling, this Court incorporates the factual allegations as stated in its memorandum of decision on the motions to dismiss and does not include them herein.


         The plaintiff first argues that, in dismissing his constitutional claims, the Court erred by failing to construe his allegations liberally in accordance with well-established Second Circuit jurisprudence. He is wrong. The Court specifically recognized that “[w]here . . . [a] complaint was filed pro se, it must be construed liberally with ‘special solicitude' and interpreted to raise the strongest claims that it suggests.” Mem. of Decision at 2 (quoting Hogan v. Fischer, 738 F.3d 509, 515 (2d Cir. 2013)). The Court's decision resulted from the Plaintiff's failure to make necessary allegations, not a misconstruing of the allegations that he did make. See Mem. of Decision at 6, 8-9.

         The First Amendment Retaliation Claim

         The Court dismissed the plaintiff's First Amendment retaliation claim against Gogins because the complaint, read as whole, did not include allegations demonstrating that she had stolen, intercepted, confiscated or otherwise interfered with the plaintiff's mail. Mem. of Decision at 6. There were no allegations that Gogins directed any DOC official to steal or improperly take possession of the plaintiff's mail. Id. Thus, the complaint did not adequately demonstrate that Gogins had any personal involvement in the alleged retaliatory adverse action. In fact, the email relied upon by the Plaintiff demonstrated the contrary - that she did not. As the Court noted, “personal involvement of defendants in alleged constitutional deprivations is a prerequisite to an award of damages under [section] 1983.” Mem. of Decision at 6 (quoting Wright v. Smith, 21 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir. 1994)). The Court sees no reason to revisit the issue and the plaintiff has not identified any controlling law or facts which the court overlooked. The motion for reconsideration as to the First Amendment claim is denied.[1]

         The Fourth Amendment Claim

         Similarly, the Court dismissed the Fourth Amendment claim against both defendants because the plaintiff failed to allege facts showing that either of them were personally involved in ...

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