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Dean v. Lt. Iozzia

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 27, 2019

DEVON DEAN, Plaintiff,
v.
LT. IOZZIA, et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          Kari A. Dooley United States District Judge

         Preliminary Statement

         Plaintiff, Devon Dean (“Dean”), currently confined at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut, filed this complaint pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting claims for use of excessive force, retaliation, and violation of his right to freely exercise his religion. The named defendants are Lieutenant Iozzia, Unit Manager John/Jane Smith, Captain Shabenas, Warden Santiago, Deputy Warden Zegarzulski, Deputy Warden Martin, Commissioner Scott S. Semple, and Unit Manager Conger. Dean seeks medical treatment and damages from the defendants in their individual and official capacities. The complaint was received on November 13, 2018, and Dean's motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on November 29, 2018.

         Standard of Review

          Under section 1915A of title 28 of the United States Code, 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. Id. In reviewing a pro se complaint, the Court must assume the truth of the allegations, and interpret them liberally to “raise the strongest arguments [they] suggest[].” Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007). see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants). 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.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         Allegations

          On January 25, 2016, Dean was confined at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center. Lieutenant Iozzia and other officers were escorting Dean to the restrictive housing unit (“RHU”). The correctional officer on Dean's right, John or Jane Smith, squeezed and twisted Dean's wrist. Dean did not think that he was resisting the escort or acting in a threatening manner, so he told the officer that excessive force was not necessary.

         Upon his arrival in RHU, Dean asked Lieutenant Iozzia to tell his officers to stop using excessive force. Lieutenant Iozzia became loud and belligerent. He was both verbally and physically aggressive. An altercation resulted. Dean spit at the officers and was assaulted by them. Dean was punched, kicked, and sprayed with a chemical agent. During this time, Dean's hands were cuffed behind his back.

         When the assault ended, Dean was escorted to RHU cell 112. En route, his head and face were smashed against walls and doors. Dean was left naked in the cell for ten hours. His injuries were not addressed. No. defendant provided any assistance.

         For the next 72 hours, Dean remained in four-point restraints. Captain Shabenas ordered that Dean receive only cheese and bread sandwiches and orange juice, rather than the common-fare tray required to address his Rastafarian religious beliefs. On February 4, 2016, Lieutenant Tosses arranged for Dean to receive medical attention.

         On February 15, 2016, Dean requested medical assistance for the injuries sustained on January 25, 2016. His name was added to the sick call waiting list. On February 26, 2016, a doctor prescribed 600 mg Motrin for three months.

         Dean was transferred to MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution (“MCI”). On March 2, 2016, Dean requested medical treatment at MCI. He was added to the MD sick call list. On March 10, 2016, Dean was seen by a nurse for the injuries to his left wrist. By this time, he was unable to move his arm. On March 13 and 29, 2016, Dean was seen in the medical unit. He complained of pain and numbness. Dean also complained that he had not received his common fare meals.

         Discussion

          Dean argues that the defendants violated his rights under the Second, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. In describing his Second Amendment claims, however, Dean states that the defendants violated his right to freely exercise his religious beliefs by not serving him a common-fare tray, Doc. No. 1 at 9, ¶ 19, and retaliated against him. Id. at 8, ¶ 10. These rights are protected by the First Amendment, not the Second Amendment. See Washington v. Gonyea, 538 Fed.Appx. 23, (2d Cir. 2013) (considering First Amendment retaliation and free exercise claims). The Court will consider these claims as brought under the First, rather than the Second, Amendment.

         Official Capacity

         Dean has named the defendants in individual and official capacities. For relief, he seeks proper medical treatment for his injuries, compensation for expenses associated with outside treatment or physical therapy, and damages from the defendants in official and individual capacities. The Eleventh Amendment bars claims for damages against a state official in his official capacity unless the state has waived this immunity or Congress has abrogated it. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 169 (1995). Section 1983 does not abrogate state sovereign immunity, Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 343 (1979), and Dean has alleged no facts suggesting that ...


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