Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Scozzari v. Santiago

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 29, 2019

BRANDON SCOZZARI, Plaintiff,
v.
ANTONIO SANTIAGO et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

          Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.

          Brandon Scozzari is 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 several DOC officials in their individual and official capacities, including Director of Security Antonio Santiago; Security Risk Group Coordinator John Aldi; Warden Stephen Faucher; Lieutenants Kelly, Paine, and Russell; Disciplinary Investigator Acevedo; Officer Irizarry; and one John Doe correctional officer. Doc. #1 at 1. Scozzari claims that defendants violated his constitutional rights by placing him in the DOC's security risk group program in violation of the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Id. at 24-26 (¶¶ 108-13). He seeks damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief. Id. at 27 (¶¶ 114-22). For the reasons stated below, I will dismiss Scozzari's complaint in part and reserve decision on the preliminary injunction pending responses from certain defendants.

         Background

         The following facts are alleged in the complaint and are accepted as true only for purposes of this ruling. In October of 2018, Scozzari was confined in the S Unit at New Haven Correctional Center (“NHCC”). Doc. #1 at 5 (¶ 1). In the final week of that month, Lieutenants Paine and Russell, as well as Officer Irizarry and Officer Doe, approached Scozzari as he entered S Unit from the medical unit. Ibid. (¶ 2). Paine told him, “[Y]ou'r[e] new to the facility, since your family doesn't know that you'r[e] here I'll let you go back to the block (unit) [un]til[] Monday.” Ibid. (¶ 3).

         On a Friday, Scozzari was brought to the Lieutenant's Office where Paine asked him about allegedly being a gang member. Id. at 5-6 (¶ 4). Scozzari was questioned by Paine and others, who said he was a member of the Piru Bloods gang. Id. at 6 (¶ 5). Scozzari told them he was not a Piru Blood. Ibid. (¶ 6). Paine then stated, “[I]f you[‘re] not a gang member, then why did you put it on you [Facebook] page, ” and showed Scozzari a Facebook page on a screen. Ibid. (¶ 7). Scozzari told Paine he had no answer. Ibid. (¶ 8). Paine then responded “then we're designating you as a gang member.” Ibid. (¶ 9). Scozzari told Paine “I'll be honest with you I put it up there because a friend of mine[] that passed away always put it on his page, so I put it up there in memory of him.” Ibid. (¶ 10). When Scozzari told Paine that he did not know the meaning of what was written on the Facebook page, Paine said that he did not believe him. Id. at 9 (¶¶ 11-13). Paine then asked Scozzari if he wanted to make any statements. Ibid. (¶ 15). Scozzari said “yes” and started to write out “I am not a gang member” with a pen and paper Paine had provided-but before he could finish, Paine seized the paper from Scozzari, balled it up, and threw it in the trash. Ibid. (¶¶ 17-18). Paine told Scozzari he would return for him on Monday. Ibid. (¶ 17). Before leaving the office, Scozzari said that Paine had violated his rights, but Paine responded that there was no violation because “Facebook has an agreement with the [DOC].” Ibid. (¶¶ 19-20). Scozzari then returned to S Unit, and the following Monday, Paine came and took Scozzari to the restrictive housing unit. Ibid. (¶¶ 21-22).

         When Scozzari arrived at the restrictive housing unit, he did not receive notice of the charges against him from Paine. Id. at 10 (¶ 24). He also did not receive a notice of charges from Investigator Acevedo. Ibid. (¶ 25). Scozzari waited in restrictive housing from October 31 to November 28, 2018. Ibid. (¶ 26). There, he wrote to Security Risk Group (SRG) Coordinator Aldi and Director of Security Santiago. Ibid. (¶ 27). He has not yet received a response. Ibid. (¶ 28).

         Scozzari claims never to have received a classification hearing prior to being sent to Phase Three of the DOC's Security Risk Group (SRG) program at Corrigan, which he alleges to be “essentially administrative segregation.” Id. at 10, 12 (¶¶ 26, 44). When he arrived at Corrigan, he met five to six inmates who had been designated because of their Facebook posts. Ibid. (¶ 29). Scozzari accuses Lieutenants Paine and Russell of “bamboozl[ing]” him and charging him with a false offense for practicing his right to free speech. Id. at 11 (¶ 32). While in the SRG program, he “came to the presumption” that Santiago and Aldi, who oversee the SRG program, were compelling their subordinates to designate inmates based on their social media pages in order to justify continued funding for the program. Ibid. (¶ 34).

         In February 2019, Scozzari obtained his ticket history from his counselor, and learned that there was no disciplinary report for his Facebook post. Id. at 12 (¶ 41).

         Scozzari alleges that he is subject to a number of conditions in the SRG program that he considers unfair and inhumane. Id. at 15 (¶ 52). In the SRG program, he does not receive good time credits, is allowed only three phone calls per day rather than the ordinary six allowed to other inmates, can only spend $40 in commissary while other inmates can spend $75 in commissary, and is not receiving any rehabilitative or educational programming. Id. at 15, 17 (¶¶ 53-56, 66-67). Commissary orders take an extra week to arrive, id. at 17 (¶ 65), there are no congregational religious services, ibid. (¶ 68), and visitors are limited to immediate family, ibid. (¶ 69).

         Scozzari alleges that inmates spend 22.5 hours per day in their cells and only receive 90 minutes of recreation time. Id. at 15 (¶ 58). The cells are unheated and have no hot water. Id. at 18 (¶¶ 73, 77). When a fight occurs, all inmates in the unit are kept on lockdown for 3-5 days, and are not allowed to receive a shower until the fourth day. Id. at 16 (¶ 60). From January 24 to January 28, 2019, Scozzari was unable to shower-so that when food was distributed on January 27, Scozzari vomited from the odor in his cell after only a few bites. Ibid. (¶¶ 61-62). Moreover, the January 26 cell cleanup was canceled due to the lockdown, so Scozzari was unable to clean the soiled inside of his cell toilet. Ibid. (¶ 63). Scozzari alleges that he is always cold, shivering, and suffering from a runny nose. Id. at 18 (¶ 74).

         Scozzari has spoken to unnamed officers and lieutenants about his conditions of confinement. Id. at 16 (¶ 64). They have ignored him. Ibid.

         Because he is in the SRG program, when Scozzari goes to court he must wear a white jumpsuit. Id. at 23 (¶ 101). This shows the court, which has not yet sentenced him, that he is a gang member. Ibid. (¶ 102-03). Had he remained in the general population, Scozzari would have been eligible for good time credit and possibly parole. Ibid. (¶ 103). At the time of filing of his complaint in this action, Scozzari was and remained a pre-trial detainee.

         Discussion

         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 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.