United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge
Davon Miller was a pretrial detainee in the custody of the
Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC). He alleges that
within moments of his transfer to a new cell he was brutally
attacked without provocation by his cellmate who was a
convicted prisoner. According to Miller, the defendant
correctional officers knew or recklessly should have known of
his cellmate's violent propensity but they were
deliberately indifferent to Miller's safety.
have now moved for summary judgment. Although I will grant
their motion in part, I will deny it in large part on the
issue of whether the defendants acted with deliberate
indifference to Miller's safety. I conclude that Miller
is entitled to additional discovery about his attacker's
prior assault and disciplinary history.
following facts are set forth as admissible for summary
judgment purposes and in the light most favorable to Miller
as the non-moving party. Miller was a pretrial detainee at
MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution. He was
incarcerated on a burglary charge. Doc. #47-8 at 51.
August 16, 2017, Miller was at MacDougall's medical unit
when he was assigned to be transferred to the Restrictive
Housing Unit (RHU), a unit that is commonly called
“segregation.” Doc. #41-6 at 1. Defendant Mann
was a correctional officer who was working that day on
MacDougall's RHU. At about 2:30 p.m., he received a call
advising that Miller was ready for escort from the medical
unit to RHU. Mann went to the medical unit, secured Miller in
handcuffs and escorted him to RHU. Ibid.
to the warden of MacDougall, “there were space issues
that necessitated doubling up RHU cells.” Doc. #47 at
8. So Mann took took Miller to cell #5 on the second tier of
the unit. That cell was already occupied by a convicted
inmate named Mark Silver. Ibid.
accordance with standard procedure, Mann ordered Silver to
place his hands through the cell door trap, then he applied
handcuffs to Silver, and ordered him to the back of the cell
away from the cell door. Silver complied. The door to the
cell was then opened, and Mann ordered Miller to enter the
cell. Mann handed Miller a bag with his clothing, and the
cell door was closed. Mann then directed both Miller and
Silver to place their hands through the cell trap door for
removal of handcuffs. Both Mann and Silver complied, and
their handcuffs were removed. Mann then closed the cell trap
door, and he proceeded to tour the rest of the unit. Doc.
#41-6 at 1-2.
time during these events did Miller express concern to Mann
about his safety. Nor did Silver speak to Mann during these
events, and Mann did not hear him express any hostility
toward Miller. Id. at 2.
Mann finished touring the remainder of the tier, he walked
back toward cell #5 and heard a commotion. He saw Miller and
Silver in an altercation. When they would not respond to his
commands to stop, he entered the cell with other officers and
used mace. Miller and Silver were then separated.
to Miller, Silver attacked him right away after he was placed
in the cell, and he did not have a chance to fight back. Doc.
#44 at 14. In his verified complaint, he alleges that
“[w]hen I entered the cell I went to use the bathroom
and [Silver] assaulted me and repeatedly smashed my head
against a steel toilet until I was unconscious.” Doc.
#23 at 5; Doc. #44 at 32 (summary judgment affidavit).
sustained a 3-inch laceration of his cheek. Doc. #47-8 at 6.
He received stitches in the medical unit due to a
“serious gash” in his cheek. Id. at 14.
Miller also alleges additional injuries including “two
black eyes, . . . a blood clot in my right eye, bone fracture
in my right eye socket, a swollen jaw and a huge cut on my my
right eyes.” Doc. #23 at 5.
DOC's preliminary investigation disclosed that it was
Silver who assaulted Miller. Doc. #47-8 at 6. According to an
incident report written by Mann, when he took part in moving
Silver to another cell soon after the incident, “Silver
made comments about harming any cell mate he would be housed
with.” Id. at 35.
incident report (written by Lieutenant Valentin) recounts
that, after the altercation with Miller, when correctional
officers tried to place Silver in cell #13 of the RHU with
another inmate, “Silver made several verbal threats
that he would assault the current inmate housed in 13 cell
and any other inmate we placed him with. He stated that if we
continue to place him with other inmates that he would
continue to assault them.” Id. at 7.
“Once secured Silver stated to this supervisor that he
simply assaulted Miller because of him being housed in his
cell. He stated that he will continue to assault any other
inmates placed in his cell.” Ibid.
another incident report that is based on a review of
post-incident video quotes Silver's statements at the
time that he was about to be placed in cell #13 with another
inmate: “I am going to fuck him up.” “Any
cellie.” “I just sent one to UCONN.”
Id. at 48.
deputy warden wrote in another incident report: “After
a preliminary inquiry I/M Silver was identified as an
‘Assailant' and was issued disciplinary reports for
‘Assault' & ‘Threats' and was removed
from In-Cells just before the twelve hour mark. After
conferring with Day Watch Commander / Capt. Ogando the
incident can be attributed to the assaultive nature of inmate
Silver and can be classified as ‘isolated.'”
Doc. #47-8 at 6.
noted above, the record shows that it was defendant Mann who
placed Miller in the cell with Silver. The record also shows
that defendant Cavanaugh (then a lieutenant and now a
captain) responded to the scene after a “Code
Blue” emergency was called while Silver was assaulting
Miller. Incident reports reflect that Cavanaugh exercised
general supervisory functions including ordering that Miller
be taken to the medical unit, instructing the activation and
deactivation of a video camera, and also calling off the Code
Blue. Doc. #47-8 at 14, 25, 57, 59, 63.
record does not reflect whether Silver has a history known to
defendants or any DOC personnel of assaulting inmates or
correctional officers. That is because defendants refused
Miller's discovery request for documents about
Silver's prior disciplinary and assault history as well
as for the names of correctional officials who were ...