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Green v. Tavernier

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 7, 2019



          Charles S. Haight, Jr. Senior United States District Judge.

         The plaintiff, Courtney Green, currently incarcerated at Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut, has filed a complaint pro se pursuant 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He names as defendants Lieutenant Tavernier and Correctional Officer Tuggle. Green contends that defendant Tavernier retaliated against him in violation of the First Amendment and subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement in violation of the Eighth Amendment. He alleges that both defendants subjected him to unreasonable searches in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Green seeks damages from the defendants in their individual capacities.

         I. Factual Allegations

         The factual allegations contained in Plaintiff's complaint are recounted below, recited in the light most favorable to Plaintiff.

         On June 26, 2018, Green underwent a surgical procedure for a chronic anal fissure. Doc. 1 (“Compl.”) ¶ 1. Before discharging him, the surgeon ordered that Green be issued a pass to have a pillow to sit on when he returned to the correctional facility. Id. ¶ 2. The facility doctor issued Green a pass permitting him to sit on a pillow for thirty days. Id. ¶¶ 2-3.

         From June 27, 2018, through July 1, 2018, defendant Tavernier refused to honor the pillow pass and denied Green access to the dining hall with his pillow. Id. ¶ 3. Although she verified the pass with the medical department, defendant Tavernier would not permit Green to enter the dining hall with his pillow and refused permission for Green to receive his meals in his cell-even after Green informed her that the pillow was a standard, state-issued pillow and allowed Tavernier to inspect the pillow for contraband. Id. ¶ 4. On June 27, 2018, defendant Tavernier told Green that he would receive a disciplinary charge if he returned to the dining hall with the pillow. Id. ¶ 6. Green would not enter the dining hall without his pillow because he viewed sitting on a hard surface as unreasonable in light of his recent surgery and issuance of the pass. Id. Green was not able to enter the dining hall to eat from June 27, 2018 through July 1, 2018. Id. The lack of his therapeutic high fiber diet caused Green to experience severe constipation, rectal pain and rectal bleeding, along with fatigue from not eating for five days. Id. ¶ 7.

         On July 2, 2018, Green saw Deputy Warden Snyder and told him that defendant Tavernier was denying him access to the dining hall. Id. ¶ 8. He showed Deputy Warden Snyder the pillow pass. Id. Deputy Warden Snyder told Green that he would look into the matter. Id. ¶ 9. A few hours later, Green was called to the medical unit and issued a pass to receive his meals in his cell. Id. Green filed a grievance against defendant Tavernier which was denied initially and on appeal. Id. ¶ 11. After Green filed the grievance, he ran into Tavernier in a hallway, and she glared harshly at him. Id.

         On August 18, 2018, defendant Tavernier entered Green's cell with unit officer Iyare. Id. ¶ 13. Defendant Tavernier accused Green of telling Iyare that he discarded a shaving razor in the trash. Id. Green denied the accusation. Id. Defendant Tavernier then ordered Green to accompany her to the medical unit. Id. ¶ 14. En route, Green commented that defendant Tavernier did not believe that he had a razor blade because he was not searched in his cell and the housing unit was operating normally. Id. ¶ 15.

         In the medical unit, defendant Tavernier ordered defendant Tuggle to strip search Green in the bathroom. Id. ¶ 16. Defendant Tuggle did not close the bathroom door. Id. Green asked that the door be closed partially because he would be in full view of any nurses that might leave their adjacent office during the search. Id. Defendant Tuggle denied the request and ordered Green to remove his clothes. Id. ¶ 17. While Green was naked, two nurses left their office. Id. They saw him and laughed while they walked to the treatment room. Id. Defendant Tuggle did not find a razor blade during the search. Id. ¶ 18.

         Following the strip search, Green was sent to the medical unit holding cell while his cell was searched. Id. While Green waited, defendant Tavernier went to contact Officer Spence, the officer who distributed the razors in the housing unit. Id. ¶ 19. After approximately forty minutes, Green was ordered to return to his cell. Id. ¶ 20. While escorting him to his cell, defendant Tavernier told Green that Officer Spence denied reporting any missing razors. Id. ¶ 21-22. Defendant Tavernier began insulting Green. Id. In response, he stated that she was upset because he had filed a grievance against her. Id. ¶ 23. Defendant Tavernier told Green, “this is how I do things when you write me up, and I'm going to make it my job to get you.” Id.

         Green found his cell in shambles. Id. ¶ 24. His property was spread over the floor and bunk and his mattress was in the corridor. Id. Green wrote Inmate Requests to several supervisory officers complaining about the strip search. Id. ¶ 25.

         On August 19, 2018, Green reported to his hallway detail job. Id. ¶ 27. Defendant Tavernier pointed at Green and spoke aggressively with Officer Kalhotra, the officer who supervised Green's work assignment. Id. ¶¶ 28-29. In accordance with the recreation schedule for unit workers, Green went to the weight platform during evening recreation. Id. ¶ 31. Defendant Tavernier glared at Green during recreation for approximately 35 minutes. Id. ¶¶ 31-35.

         As he was returning to his cell at the conclusion of the recreation period, Green was directed to Officer Kalhotra's desk. Id. ¶ 36. Officer Kalhotra told Green that defendant Tavernier had ordered him to issue Green an out of place disciplinary infraction. Id. ¶ 37. Officer Kalhotra stated that he disagreed with the charge but had to issue the report. Id. ¶¶ 37-38.

         Green had been assigned to J-block because he needed a handicap-accessible shower. Id. ¶¶ 41-42. On August 20, 2018, Green was told that he was moving to D-block. Id. ¶ 30. He was issued a pass to go to D-block to get the moving cart. Id. ¶ 40. Captain Colon, the unit manager of D-block, told Green that he could not move to D-block because the showers were not handicap accessible. Id. ¶ 40. Captain Colon asked whether the unit manager in J-block was aware of the move. Id. ¶ 43. Green said that defendant Tavernier had arranged the move and related his history with defendant Tavernier. Id. ¶ 43-44. Captain Colon cancelled the move and directed Green to return to J-block. Id. ¶¶ 45-46.

         Later that day, Green spoke with Captain Chapdelaine, the second shift commander, about defendant Tavernier's actions. Id. ¶ 52. Captain Chapdelaine told Green that he was aware of the issues and stated that defendant Tavernier had ordered Officer Kalhotra to issue Green a negative performance evaluation. Id. ¶ 53. Captain Chapdelaine said he would speak to Captain Manning, the first shift commander, because defendant Tavernier was technically a first shift lieutenant. Id. ¶ 54. Captain Chapdelaine also stated that he would talk to defendant Tavernier, because he had spoken to Officer Kalhotra who had no complaints about the manner in which Green had fulfilled his hallway detail assignment. Id. ¶ 56. On August 28, 2018, the hearing officer deferred the disciplinary infraction on the out of place charge. Id. ¶ 55, 58. On September 7, 2018, Green spoke to shift commander Captain Manning, who informed Green that he had heard about the razor incident and was aware that there had never been a missing razor. Id. ΒΆ 59. Captain Manning also stated that he had received ...

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