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Jusino v. Rinaldi

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 15, 2019

JOSE A. JUSINO, Plaintiff,
v.
MONICA RINALDI, et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          MICHAEL P. SHEA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The plaintiff, Jose A. Jusino, is incarcerated in the Walker Building at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution (“Walker”). He has filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Commissioner Scott Semple (“Commissioner Semple”), Deputy Commissioner Monica Rinaldi (“Deputy Commissioner Rinaldi”), Director of Security Antonio Santiago (“Director Santiago”), Director of Psychology Services Thomas Kocienda (“Director Kocienda”), District Administrator Edward Maldenado (“District Administrator Maldenado”), District Administrator Angel Quiros (“District Administrator Quiros”), Warden Nick Rodriguez (“Warden Rodriguez”), Warden William Mulligan (“Warden Mulligan”), Warden Stephen Faucher (“Warden Faucher”), Deputy Warden of Programs and Treatment Derrick Molden (“Deputy Warden Molden”), Director of Offender Classification Dave Maiga (“Director Maiga”), Counselor Supervisor of Population Management Tugie (“Counselor Supervisor Tugie”), Deputy Warden Roach, Unit Manager for Security Risk Groups Stanley (“Unit Manager Stanley”), and Security Risk Group Manager Jon Aldi (“Security Risk Group Manager Aldi”).

         The plaintiff alleges that the defendants violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights during his confinement in the security risk group program at Walker and Corrigan Correctional Institution (“Corrigan”) during the period from July 31, 2018 to October 17, 2018. For the reasons set forth below, the court will dismiss the complaint in part.

         I. Standard of Review

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the court must review prisoner civil complaints against governmental actors and “dismiss ... any portion of [a] complaint [that] is frivolous, malicious, or 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. Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         Although detailed allegations are not required, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when a plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A complaint that includes only “‘labels and conclusions,' ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action' or ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement, '” does not meet the facial plausibility standard. Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557 (2007)). Although courts still have an obligation to interpret “a pro se complaint liberally, ” the complaint must include sufficient factual allegations to meet the standard of facial plausibility. See Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).

         II. Facts

         The plaintiff states that he has been diagnosed as suffering from “multiple psychological disabilit[ies] and traits as well as abnormal brain structure and function.” See Compl., at 6 ¶ 26. He has been confined within the Connecticut Department of Correction since July 2005. See Id. ¶ 25. In 2007, prison officials placed him on restrictive housing status. See Id. ¶ 27. Prior to July 31, 2018, the plaintiff was confined at Northern Correctional Institution (“Northern”) on special needs management status. See Id. ¶ 28.

         In June 2009, the plaintiff received a disciplinary report charging him with being a member of a security risk group called the Bloods. See Id. ¶ 31. The plaintiff contends that he did not meet the requirements for designation as a security risk group member. See Id. ¶ 32. “[F]or safety reasons, [the plaintiff] had to inform DOC that he wasn't a member of the Bloods, but was associated with the Latin Kings security risk group.” See Id. at 7 ¶ 33. After finding the plaintiff guilty of the disciplinary charge of security risk group affiliation, prison officials designated the plaintiff as a security risk group member. See Id. at 5-6 ¶¶ 32, 34.

         Prison officials have never reviewed the plaintiff's status as a security risk group member to determine whether he should remain a security risk group member. See Id. at 6 ¶¶ 34-36. The plaintiff contends that he has not been engaged in security risk group activity since 2011 and has been disciplinary report free for a long time. See Id. ¶ 36. In 2014, the plaintiff informed correctional staff that he was no longer associated with any gang. See id.

         On July 31, 2018, prison officials at Northern transferred the plaintiff to Walker based on his designation as a security risk group member in 2009. See Id. at 6 ¶ 30. The plaintiff contends that he was no longer a member of a security risk group at the time of his transfer and had exhibited no security risk group behavior or threatening behavior since 2011. See Id. at 8 ¶¶ 38, 41.

         The plaintiff remained at Walker in the security risk group program from July 31, 2018 to October 5, 2018. See Id. at 13 ¶¶ 68-69. The conditions in the security risk group program were more restrictive than the conditions that the plaintiff had experienced during his confinement on special needs management status at Northern. See Id. at 9-12 ¶¶ 43-59, 63. In addition to the restrictions on various privileges, the plaintiff claims that the ventilation system had not been cleaned and he was forced to breathe filthy air. See Id. at 12 ¶ 62. The cleaning supplies available to the plaintiff were inadequate and there was no hot water in the sink in the plaintiff's cell. See Id. at 12-13 ¶¶ 62, 67. There was no law library and he had no opportunity to exchange his dirty sheets and jumpsuit for clean sheets and a clean jumpsuit. See Id. at 12 ¶¶ 61, 64. There was insufficient staffing to meet the mental health needs of inmates in the program and the mental health treatment offered to inmates was inadequate. See Id. ¶ 65. There was no fire safety plan for the inmates in the plaintiff's housing unit. See Id. ¶ 60. The plaintiff was required to eat his meals in his cell. See Id. at 13 ¶ 66. The plaintiff refused to eat most of his meals because the different foods on his tray were often mixed with each other by the time the officer delivered the tray to him. See id.

         On October 4, 2018, Security Risk Group Manager Aldi and Unit Manager Stanley informed the plaintiff that his confinement in the security risk group program from July 31, 2018 to October 4, 2018 would not count towards his “programming progression.” See Id. ¶ 68. On October 5, 2018, prison officials at Walker transferred the plaintiff to Corrigan. See Id. ¶ 69.

         At Corrigan, the plaintiff suffered a “mental health breakdown” and submitted a request to be transferred to another facility. See Id. ¶ 70. On October 15, 2018, Security Risk Group Manager Aldi, Warden Faucher, Deputy Warden Molden, and Director Santiago met with the plaintiff to discuss how to manage him. See Id. ¶ 71. The plaintiff explained that he did not feel safe and was mentally unstable. See Id. He requested to be transferred to a different facility. See Id. Security Risk Group Manager Aldi, Warden Faucher, Deputy Warden Molden, and Director Santiago informed the plaintiff that he would be transferred back to Walker. See Id. They also stated that prison officials would transfer the plaintiff back to Corrigan at a later date and warned the plaintiff that any refusal to be transferred back would result in disciplinary measures. See id.

         The plaintiff remained in the administrative segregation unit at Corrigan for a total of twelve days. See Id. at 14 ¶¶ 72-73. On October 17, 2018, prison officials at Corrigan transferred the plaintiff back to Walker. See Id. at 14 ¶ 73.

         The plaintiff's placement in the security risk group program at Walker exacerbated his mental health conditions. See Id. In response to the deterioration of the plaintiff's mental health, prison officials raised the plaintiff's mental health needs score and placed the plaintiff on behavior observation status when he expressed thoughts of suicide. See Id. Mental health providers have prescribed mood stabilizers and medication for the plaintiff's symptoms of depression and anxiety. See id.

         III. Discussion

         The plaintiff alleges that Deputy Commissioner Rinaldi, Directors Santiago, Kocienda, and Maiga, District Administrators Maldenado and Quiros, Wardens Rodriguez and Mulligan, Deputy Warden Molden, and Counselor Supervisor Tugie failed to provide him with meaningful reviews of his special needs management status and his security risk group member status in violation of his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights. He claims that Commissioner Semple, Security Risk Group Manager Aldi, Director Santiago, and Deputy Commissioner Rinaldi treated him differently than other similarly situated inmates who had been removed as Security Risk Group members in violation of his Fourteenth Amendment equal protection rights. He contends that Commissioner Semple, Deputy Commissioner Rinaldi, Directors Santiago, Kocienda, and Maiga, District Administrators Maldenado and Quiros, Wardens Rodriguez and Mulligan, Deputy Warden Molden, Counselor Supervisor Tugie, Deputy Warden Roach, and Unit Manager Stanley subjected him to deprivations of basic human needs and life's necessities during his confinement at Walker in ...


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