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Durham v. Doe

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

February 21, 2019

KAREEM JAMAR DURHAM, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN JANE DOE, et al. Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          KARI A. DOOLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On February 7, 2019, the Plaintiff, Kareem Jamar Durham, a prisoner currently confined at the Bridgeport Correctional Center (“BCC”) in Connecticut, brought a civil action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against multiple Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”) officials in their individual and official capacities: Warden Amonda Hannah, [1] Lieutenant Durant, Officer Tardiff, Officer Saas, Frank Doe, Dr. Tung, Officer Callands, and an unspecified number of medical officials at BCC. Compl. (DE#1). The Plaintiff is suing the Defendants for violating his Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment by acting with deliberate indifference to his safety and/or medical needs. Id. at ¶ 9. He is also raising claims of negligence and violations of administrative regulations. See Id. at ¶¶ 9-10. The Plaintiff seeks damages and injunctive relief in the form of a transfer to another facility where he can receive adequate mental health treatment. Id. at p.5. On February 11, 2019, Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel granted the Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis. See Order No. 7. For the following reasons, his complaint is dismissed in part.

         Standard of Review

          Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, 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. 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 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.” Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 570. Nevertheless, it is well-established that “[p]ro se complaints ‘must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'” Sykes v. Bank of America, 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants).

         Allegations

         On January 2, 2019, at approximately 7:23 p.m., the Plaintiff was in the dayroom of Unit 38B-6 for his recreation period. Compl. ¶ 1. There, he became involved in a verbal altercation with another inmate named Frank Chimble. Id. Chimble threatened and hurled racial insults at the Plaintiff. Id. After the altercation, the Plaintiff was placed in administrative detention. Id.

         On January 9, the Plaintiff was sent back to Unit 38B-6. Compl. ¶ 1. When he arrived, Chimble and other inmates started insulting and yelling at him through the doors, stating that they “were going to kill [him] when they catch [him].” Id. While the Plaintiff was in his cell, the inmate in the adjacent cell squirted urine under his door. Id. The harassment caused the Plaintiff to have suicidal thoughts and fear for his life. Id. That afternoon, he spoke with a correction official and told him that he wanted to refuse housing because he feared for his safety. Id. Afterward, he was placed in administrative detention. Id.

         A couple of days later, while in administrative detention, Lieutenant Durant, Officer Tardiff, and Officer Saas called the Plaintiff to the counselor's office. Compl. ¶ 2. There, the Plaintiff explained that he feared for his life and “begged” the officials for help. Id. He also explained that the other inmates in Unit 38B-6 had been harassing him and causing him to develop suicidal thoughts. Id. However, the Defendants told him that he could either continue to refuse housing and receive disciplinary reports or go back to his housing unit and “deal with the bull.” Id. The Plaintiff remained in administrative detention, and his suicidal thoughts became more severe. Id.

         On January 16, at approximately 9:07 a.m., the Plaintiff was informed that he was being transferred back to Unit 38B-6. Compl. ¶ 3. He told the official on duty that he feared for his safety and refused the housing assignment. Id. As a result, the Plaintiff received a Class A disciplinary report. Id. Later that evening, he spoke with Frank Doe in the mental health unit and told him that he was “feeling like committing suicide” because he was not receiving any assistance from BCC supervisors. Id. Afterward, he was placed on behavioral observation status (“BOS”) in the mental health unit. Id.

         While on BOS, the Plaintiff informed Frank Doe and Dr. Tung that his mental health was poor and that he would rather die before going back to Unit 38B-6, but none of the correction officials were taking him seriously. Compl. ¶¶ 3-4. He submitted several written requests indicating that he would commit suicide if officials sent him back to his housing unit. Id. at ¶ 4. Doe and Tung eventually stopped meeting with the Plaintiff, which caused his PTSD, anxiety, and depression to increase. Id. The Plaintiff began having nightmares about being killed in Unit 38B-6. Id. He wrote multiple letters to Warden Hannah, his captain, and the deputy warden, but he did not receive any responses. Id.

         On January 29, the Plaintiff was informed that he was being transferred back to administrative detention, which caused him to panic. Compl. ¶ 5. At approximately 12:30 a.m. on January 31, the Plaintiff attempted suicide after realizing that he was being forced to choose between being punished for refusing housing or fearing for his safety. Id. He stopped Officer Callands and told him that he had ingested ten sleeping pills and was about to take six more pills. Id. at ¶ 6. The Plaintiff then took the pills and drank a bottle of deodorant in Callands' presence. Id. Callands did not immediately call a code, but he did make a phone call. Id. Five minutes later, the Plaintiff passed out after he no longer could endure his stomach pains. Id. Sometime between 1:00 p.m. and 1:15 p.m., he felt officers lift him off the floor. Id. He remembers Callands tapping on his door approximately fifteen minutes before the other officers arrived. Id.

         The next day, the Plaintiff woke up and was unable to eat because of his stomach pains. Compl. ¶ 7. He believes that he should have been taken to a hospital. Id. The Plaintiff continues to experience suicidal thoughts while confined at BCC. Id. at ¶ 8.

         Discussion

          The Plaintiff claims that the Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment by acting with deliberate indifference to his safety and/or medical needs. Compl. ¶ 9. He is also suing the ...


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