United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §
Jeffrey Alker Meyer, United States District Judge.
Vaughan is a pretrial detainee in the custody of the
Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”) and
confined at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in
Uncasville, Connecticut. He has filed a complaint pro
se and in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against the DOC and the Security Risk Group Director
John Aldi. Doc. #1 at 1, 7. Vaughan claims that defendants
violated his constitutional rights by placing him in
restrictive confinement without notice or a hearing.
Id. at 5-6, 9-10. He seeks damages and an
injunction. Id. at 10. On April 25, 2019, Vaughan
filed a motion to amend his complaint that attached a short
statement of additional allegations that overlap some of
those alleged in his original complaint. See Doc.
#9; Doc. #9-1. Because the proper procedure is for a party
seeking to amend a complaint to file a single, consolidated
complaint including all relevant factual allegations and
naming all defendants, I will deny his motion to add
piecemeal additions to his complaint without prejudice.
Because the factual allegations in the amended complaint
overlap those stated in the original complaint, I will review
Vaughan's original complaint at this time. For the
reasons stated below, I will allow his complaint to proceed
for injunctive relief against Aldi but dismiss his claims for
money damages without prejudice.
following facts are alleged in the complaint and are accepted
as true only for purposes of this ruling.
December 11, 2017, Vaughan was at New Haven Correctional
Center (NHCC). Doc. #1 at 5-6 (¶¶ 3-4). Vaughan
signed a property paper stating that he had multicolored
religious beaded necklaces and some other items. Id.
at 5 (¶ 1). Vaughan's mother came to retrieve his
property, but correctional officers would not give the
property to his mother. Ibid. Later that day,
Vaughan was placed in the restrictive housing unit.
Ibid. (¶ 2). Vaughan was called down to the
lieutenant's office, where he spoke with Lieutenant
Mendillo and Intelligence Officer Payne. Ibid.
(¶¶ 2-3). They asked Vaughan about his beads.
Ibid. (¶ 2). He stated that they were
religious. Ibid. Mendillo and Payne told Vaughan
that he was going to segregation because of his beaded
necklace, and Vaughan was then placed in the Foxtrot
restrictive housing unit at NHCC. Id. at 5-6
(¶¶ 3-4). Vaughan was then sent to Phase Two of the
Security Risk Group (SRG) program at Walker Correctional
Institution. Id. at 6 (¶¶ 5-6). Vaughan
had already completed the SRG program, id. at 6, 9
(¶ 5), and he had renounced his affiliation in the
“Bloods” gang, id. at 9. Vaughan claims
not to have received notice, a disciplinary report, or a
hearing before his placement in restrictive housing or the
SRG program. Id. at 6 (¶¶ 4-5). He remains
in the SRG program to this day. Ibid. (¶ 7).
6, 2018, Vaughan stopped Officer Briatico at his cell and
asked him about a disciplinary report Briatico had issued him
regarding a book that was found in his cell. Id. at
8. Briatico stated that it was “just a bunch of Blood
shit.” Ibid. Vaughan said that he knew nothing
about the book and that it had belonged to his cellmate.
Ibid. Briatico replied that he did not know much
about the book and was instructed to issue the disciplinary
report. Ibid. As of November 30, 2018, Vaughan had
been kept in segregation for 33 days pending an investigation
into the disciplinary report. Ibid.
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 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.” 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 pro se 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).
against the Department of Correction
lists the Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) as a
defendant to this action. I will dismiss Vaughan's claim
against the DOC because it is a state agency, and therefore
is not a person subject to suit under § 1983. See
Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71
only remaining defendant in this case is John Aldi who is
identified in the complaint as a “Counselor Supervisor
/ Security Risk Group Director” of the Department of
Correction. Doc. #1 at 3. Insofar as Vaughan seeks money
damages against Aldi, I will dismiss his claim because
Vaughan has not alleged any facts suggesting Aldi's
personal involvement in violating his constitutional rights.
Damages liability under § 1983 requires the personal
involvement of each individual held liable. See Raspardo
v. Carlone, 770 F.3d 97, 116 (2d Cir. 2014). Vaughan
alleges that Lieutenant Mendillo and Officer Payne were
involved in placing him in restrictive housing and the SRG
program, that Officer Briatico wrote him a ticket for the
book in his cell, and that unnamed officers at NHCC
confiscated his beaded necklace. But the complaint does not
name Mendillo, Payne, or Briatico as defendants, and it does
not allege any facts implicating Aldi in any of those
actions. Accordingly, for lack of any facts detailing
Aldi's involvement, I will not allow Vaughan's claim
for damages against Aldi in his individual capacity to
proceed at this time.
other other hand, a prisoner may sue a state official in his
official capacity only for injunctive relief, see
Will, 491 U.S. at 71 n.10, and it is plausible to
conclude that Aldi in his official capacity as director of
the Security Risk Group (SRG) may have authority to grant
Vaughan injunctive relief from the restrictions to which he
is now subject as a result of his apparent SRG designation.
See, e.g., Gonzalez v. Feinerman, 663 F.3d
311, 315 (7th Cir. 2011) (per curiam)
(notwithstanding prison warden's lack of personal
involvement in alleged constitutional violation, prison
warden remained proper defendant for official-capacity claim
seeking injunctive relief that he had authority to carry
out). Moreover, to the extent that Vaughan alleges that other
state actors have violated his due process rights by placing
him in segregation without any hearing and on the basis of a
mistaken conclusion about his gang affiliation, I conclude
that Vaughan may have alleged enough facts for now to suggest
a violation of the Due Process Clause and for which an
appropriate supervisory DOC official who has authority to
grant injunctive relief may be called to answer in his
official capacity. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S.
159, 165 (1985) (describing how official-capacity lawsuits
are “only another way of pleading an action against an
entity of which an officer in an agent” and that
“[a]s long ...