United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.
Junior Jump Holness is in the custody of the Connecticut
Department of Correction (DOC). He has filed this complaint
pro se and in forma pauperis under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 to challenge his treatment by prison
officials. After an initial review, the Court concludes that
Holness's claim for deliberate indifference to serious
medical need should proceed against four of the defendants.
filing, while labeled a single complaint, actually contains
four sections, with exhibits mixed in throughout. Unlike most
complaints, which begin at paragraph one and continue
sequentially, each section of Holness's complaint begins
again at paragraph one. The first section covers incidents
that allegedly occurred in September and October of 2018.
Doc. #1 at 1-24. The second and third sections span November
2017 through April 2018, id. at 31-35 & 36-42,
and the fourth and final section pertains to June of 2018,
id. at 43-68. Given the timeline and the unusual
formatting of Holness's filing, with four sections
numbered separately and broken up by exhibits, Holness has
essentially filed four separate complaints.
first section of the complaint alleges the following facts:
Holness was transferred to Corrigan Correctional Center on
September 11, 2018, where mental health officials placed him
in restrictive housing on behavior observation status. Doc. #
1 at 5. The following day, defendants Dr. Gagne and Nurse
Brennan met with him and indicated that he would be removed
from behavior observation status. Approximately two days
later, Holness learned that Gagne had discontinued the
psychiatric medications that had been prescribed to treat his
mental health conditions, including emotional distress,
post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia.
Id. at 6. When Holness confronted Gagne and Brennan
about this, Gagne said Holness wouldn't get his
medications due to something he had allegedly said to Gagne
while confined at a different facility. Gagne said,
“[r]emember you called me a homo at Northern
[Correctional Institution], that's exactly why I took you
off so you can assault staff so I can send you back to N.C.
I.” Brennan then stated, “you gets
Supervisor Phillips told Holness that she “was gonna
make [his] time here at Corrigan hard” because he had
filed a complaint against two members of her staff,
defendants Melissa Brown and Sarah Trickett, for maliciously
denying him medical treatment. Id.
September 16, 2018, Holness sent an inmate request form to
defendant Dr. Burns, the director of psychiatric services for
the D.O.C., stating that he had been taken off his
medications and asking Burns to “address this
immediately.” Id. at 12.
addition to his mental health problems, Holness also suffers
from breathing issues, for which the doctor had ordered the
use of a breath pump every four-to-six hours as needed.
Id. at 7. Holness alleges that he was supposed to be
transported to Court by D.O.C. staff rather than Court
Marshals, because he needs access to his pump but is not
permitted to have it on his person. On September 20, 2018, he
was transported to Connecticut Superior Court. He says that
he needed his pump; it is not clear whether or not he got it.
Holness also alleges that he was sent to MacDougall-Walker
Correctional Institution (“MWCI”) on court hold
even though he “was not suppose[d] to be there due to a
staff conflict profile that was clearly established [in] the
system.” Id. at 7.
Holness returned from court, he noticed that some of his
property was damaged or missing. He complained to defendant
Warden Faucher about the property and staff hold issues. He
also brought up the inhaler issue, and Faucher told him that
“we have full knowledge and that [he] would be sent [to
MWCI] for Court and if [he] need[s] the pump they would bring
it to [him], ” even though he “is suppose[d] to
be special transport to Court wherein [he] can bring [his]
September 26, 2018, Holness was again sent to MWCI in advance
of his court appearance. Id. at 8. He was in court
later that morning when he started having breathing problems.
The Judge told the Marshals to contact the facility or call
an ambulance. The Marshal called the facility and “even
told the facility that you guys know he has serious medical
conditions and should be facility transport to Court.”
Ibid. The facility said they would send someone with
the pump but never did. Holness was sent to MWCI to wait for
transport back to Corrigan. While at MWCI, he passed out due
to low oxygen level and high blood pressure, which he
believes “was due to lack of [his] inhaler pump.”
Id. Holness was given medication to manage these
symptoms, and Nurse Debbie, who is not a defendant, called
the on-call doctor to ask if Holness needed to be brought to
a hospital, as his records indicated that he was at risk of
stroke. It is not clear from the complaint whether he was
sent to the hospital. Id. at 10.
Holness returned to Corrigan, Faucher “made it very
clear” to him that he would not receive DOC transport
to court because of budget cuts, despite his known medical
conditions. Id. at 9. As of the time he filed the
complaint, Holness was still not receiving his psychiatric
medications. Id. at 10. On December 6, 2018, Holness
informed the Court that he had been transferred to Hartford
Correctional Institution. Doc. #8.
noted above, the complaint contains three more sections. But
I will not review the facts of these three sections at the
present time because, as discussed below, it appears that
these sections of the complaint may not proceed until such
time as Holness pays a filing fee.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a
prisoner's civil complaint against a governmental entity
or governmental actors and “identify cognizable claims
or dismiss the compliant, 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.” If the prisoner is proceeding pro se,
the allegations of the complaint must be read liberally to
raise the strongest arguments that they suggest. See
Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010).
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 complaint may not survive dismissal if its
factual allegations do not meet the basic plausibility
standard. See, e.g., Fowlkes v. Ironworkers
Local 40, 790 F.3d 378, 387 (2d Cir. 2015).
forma pauperis status
Court granted Holness's motion to proceed in forma
pauperis (IFP) on November 15, 2018. Now, however,
further review shows that the complaint is really four
complaints, and that all but the first
complaint-within-the-complaint are subject to dismissal
absent payment of the filing fee. As amended by the Prison
Litigation Reform Act, the statute that governs applications
to proceed in forma pauperis provides that no
prisoner shall “bring a civil action or appeal a
judgment in a civil action or proceeding under this section
[allowing prisoner to proceed in forma pauperis] if
the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while
incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action
or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed
on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, unless the
prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical
injury.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). The Second Circuit
has held that the “unmistakable purpose [of the
statutory exception] is to permit an indigent three-strikes
prisoner to proceed IFP in order to obtain a judicial remedy
for an imminent danger.” Pettus v. Morgenthau,
554 F.3d 293, 297 (2d Cir. 2009). In keeping with that
purpose, “the complaint of a three-strikes litigant
must reveal a nexus between the imminent danger it alleges
and the claims it asserts” in order to qualify for the
imminent danger exception. Id. at 298 (internal
quotation marks omitted).
deciding whether such a nexus exists, courts consider
causation and redressability: “(1) whether the imminent
danger of serious physical injury that a three-strikes
litigant alleges is fairly traceable to unlawful
conduct asserted in the complaint and (2) whether a favorable
judicial outcome would redress that injury.”
Id. at 299. The exception only applies where the
danger is imminent at the time the complaint is filed.
Id. at 296 (finding that a “three-strikes
litigant is not excepted from the filing fee if he alleges a
danger that has dissipated by the time a complaint is
second and third complaints are identical to complaints that
Holness filed in a separate lawsuit and that were dismissed
by Judge Shea under the three strikes rule. See Jump v.
Rivera et al., 18cv162(MPS) (D. Conn. 2018). Judge Shea
denied Holness's motion to proceed in forma
pauperis and-after Holness failed to pay the filing
fee-dismissed both his original complaint (replicated as the
second complaint-within-a-complaint now before me) and his
amended complaint (replicated as the third
compliant-within-a-complaint now before me). Id. ...