United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.
Seldale Moon is a prisoner of the Connecticut Department of
Correction. He has filed a complaint pro se and
in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Moon
alleges that prison officials failed to protect him from a
serious risk of harm by general population inmates when he
was in protective custody status. Based on my initial review,
I conclude that Moon has stated a plausible Fourteenth
Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to safety, and
the complaint should be served on defendants in their
names the following defendants: Lieutenant Papoosha,
Correctional Treatment Unit (CTU) Officer Blackman, CTU
Officer Negron, Lieutenant Cox, and Correctional Officer
Milling. The following allegations from Moon's complaint
are assumed to be true solely for purposes of this initial
ruling. On September 5, 2017, Moon submitted a request to
Lieutenant Papoosha regarding his transportation from
Bridgeport Correctional Center to a court proceeding on
September 20, 2017. Doc. #1 at 6. In the request, Moon
reminded Papoosha that he was a protective custody inmate and
could not be transported with general population inmates due
to safety and security concerns. Ibid. Moon received
no response from Papoosha. Ibid.
September 20, 2017, Officer Milling escorted Moon to the
arrival and processing area to be transported to court.
Ibid. When Moon learned that he would be transported
with general population inmates, he asked to speak to a
mental health worker. Ibid. Milling indicated there
were no mental health professionals available and refused to
call for one. Ibid.
time later, CTU Blackman arrived. Id. at 7.
He announced Moon's protective custody status to the
general population inmates in the area and asked Moon to
state his name and inmate number out loud. Ibid.
Moon noticed that all the general population inmates in the
area turned to look at him. Ibid. Moon stated that
he would not get on the van until he was able to speak to a
lieutenant or shift commander and a mental health worker.
Ibid. Blackman called Moon derogatory names, while
CTU Officer Negron and other inmates in the area laughed at
Moon. Ibid. Blackman informed Moon that if he
refused to board the van, he would receive two disciplinary
complied and was shackled, loaded, and buckled into the front
passenger seat of the van. Ibid. The general
population inmates in the back of the van did not have
seatbelts on. Ibid.
as officers closed the door of the van, the general
population inmates began to threaten Moon and call him
derogatory names, such as a protective custody
“snitch” or a rapist. Ibid. Inmate
Rinaldi, who was also confined in the van, spit on the back
of Moon's neck and the side of Moon's face.
Ibid. Moon screamed for assistance from two
correctional treatment unit officers, but they ignored him.
then leaned over the passenger seat and threatened to
physically harm Moon and continued to spit on him.
Ibid. Moon felt he had no choice but to defend
himself, and he bit Rinaldi. Id. at 8.
response to this conduct, Blackman entered the van, verbally
threatened Moon, removed him from the van, and escorted him
back to the arrival and processing area. Ibid.
Lieutenant Cox was present in the arrival and processing area
and informed Moon that “if [he] wasn't so much of a
PC Bitch [he] wouldn't be scared to be around General
Population inmates.” Ibid. After Moon reminded
him that protective custody inmates are to be kept separate
from general population inmates, Cox announced that “in
order to [p]rotect our asses, we are pressing outside charges
against you.” Ibid. Moon asked to press
charges for being assaulted and spit upon, but Cox refused to
assist Moon with the request. Ibid. Cox instructed
Milling to place Moon in a cell in the arrival and processing
officials did not provide Moon with medical treatment.
Ibid. An hour later, an officer escorted Moon to an
office and a Connecticut State Trooper formally charged Moon
in connection with the incident in the prison van.
Ibid. Moon informed the State Trooper that he sought
to press assault charges against Rinaldi. Ibid. Cox
and Blackman informed the State Trooper that it would be
impossible to prove that Rinaldi spit on Moon. The State
Trooper chose not to recommend that an assault charge be
filed against Rinaldi. Ibid. After the State Trooper
left, an officer removed Moon's shackles, and a mental
health worker examined him. Ibid. Moon was then
placed in a cell in the segregation unit. Ibid. Moon
claims that he suffered “physical assault and [m]ental
anguish” from the incident. Id. at 9.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a
prisoner's civil complaint against a governmental entity
or actors and “identify cognizable claims or dismiss
the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the
complaint-(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” The complaint of a prisoner proceeding pro
se “must be construed liberally and interpreted to
raise the strongest arguments that [it] suggest[s].”
Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir.
2013) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted);
see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02
(2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for
pro se litigants).
recent years, the Supreme Court has set forth a threshold
“plausibility” pleading standard for courts to
evaluate the adequacy of allegations in federal court
complaints. A complaint must allege enough facts-as distinct
from legal conclusions-that give rise to plausible grounds
for relief. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Notwithstanding the
rule of liberal interpretation of a pro se
complaint, a pro se complaint may not survive