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Conquistador v. Adamaitis

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 11, 2019

JEAN KARLO CONQUISTADOR, Plaintiff,
v.
ADAMAITIS, Defendant.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          KARI A. DOOLEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Preliminary Statement

         Plaintiff, Jean Karlo Conquistador (“Conquistador”), currently confined at Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown, Connecticut, filed this complaint pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Conquistador asserts claims for deliberate indifference to safety and failure to protect him from harm as well as retaliation against one defendant, Lieutenant Adamaitis. Conquistador seeks damages and declaratory relief against defendant Adamaitis in his individual and official capacities. The complaint was received on March 22, 2019, and Conquistador's motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on April 10, 2019.

         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 July 2, 2018, at Hartford Correctional Institution, Conquistador told Lieutenant Adamaitis that gang members had threatened to attack him as soon as his cell door was opened. Doc. No. 1, ¶ 1. Conquistador asked to be moved to a different cell.for his own safety. Id., ¶ 2. In response, Lieutenant Adamaitis stated “we're all men here, ” and walked away. Id., ¶ 3.

         A short time later, an inmate entered Conquistador's cell, stabbed him in the head, and punched him numerous times. Id., ¶ 5. An officer escorted Conquistador to the medical unit where medical staff members treated his injuries. Id., ¶ 6. Mental health staff placed Conquistador on suicide watch. Id., ¶ 7.

         On July 3, 2018, mental health staff discharged Conquistador to general population. Id., ¶ 8. Later that day, Conquistador questioned Lieutenant Adamaitis about his decision not to transfer him to a different housing unit for his safety. Lieutenant Adamaitis stated that he did not like Conquistador because Conquistador had filed lawsuits against the Department of Correction in the past. Id., ¶ 9. Lieutenant Adamaitis refused to answer any other questions and told Conquistador to “get the f*** out of [my] face.” Id., ¶ 10.

         Discussion

         Deliberate Indifference to Risk of Harm/Safety and Failure to Protect

         As Conquistador was not sentenced until October 2018, he was a pretrial detainee in July 2018, when the alleged events occurred.[1] Thus, he properly brings his deliberate indifference and failure to protect claim under the Fourteenth Amendment. See Darnell v. Pineiro, 849 F.3d 17, 29 (2d Cir. 2017) (rights of pretrial detainees are considered under the Fourteenth Amendment while rights of sentenced prisoners are considered under the Eighth Amendment). To state a claim for deliberate indifference to safety or failure to protect from harm, Conquistador must allege facts satisfying two elements. He must show that he suffered a sufficiently serious constitutional deprivation and that Lieutenant Adamaitis acted with deliberate indifference. See Christian v. Warden of O.B.C.C., No. 17 Civ. 2587 (GBD)(BCM), 2018 WL 1441401, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 22, 2018).

         In Kingsley v. Hendrickson, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2473 (2015), the Supreme Court held that a pretrial detainee's claim for use of excessive force, the officer's conduct is assessed using only an objective standard. In Darnell, the Second Circuit held that the reasoning from Kingsley should be applied to other inmate claims, to include claims of deliberate indifference to safety or failure to protect from harm. 849 F.3d at 35 & 33 n.9; see also, e.g., Hodge v. City of New York, No. 19-CV-2474(CM), 2019 WL 1455170, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 1, 2019) (applying Darnell to claim for deliberate indifference to risk of harm claim). Accordingly, “a pretrial detainee must prove that the defendant acted intentionally to impose the alleged condition, or recklessly failed to act with reasonable care to mitigate the risk that the condition posed to the pretrial detainee even though the defendant-official knew, or should have known, that condition imposed an excessive risk to health or safety. Id. at 35.

         Conquistador alleges that he told Lieutenant Adamaitis about the threat to attack him. In response, Lieutenant Adamaitis refused to move Conquistador to another housing unit and did nothing to ensure his safety. Conquistador has sufficiently alleged that Lieutenant Adamaitis was aware that other inmates posed a serious risk of harm to Conquistador and recklessly failed to act with reasonable care to mitigate the risk of harm. The Fourteenth ...


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