United States District Court, D. Connecticut
REVIEW OF AMENDED COMPLAINT
R. UNDERHILL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
February 1, 2019, Luiny Reinoso-Delacruz, an inmate currently
confined at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in
Suffield, Connecticut, brought a complaint pro se and in
forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983against five
Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”)
officials: Correction Officer Ruggerio, Correction Officer
Grabowski, Unit Manager Salvatore, Warden Kenneth Butricks,
Deputy Warden John/Jane Doe. Compl., Doc. No. 1. On April 18,
2019, Reinoso-Delacruz filed an amended complaint alleging
additional facts against the defendants. Am. Compl., Doc. No.
9. For the following reasons, the amended complaint is
dismissed in part.
Standard of Review
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I must review prisoner civil
complaints and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is
frivolous or malicious, that fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A. Although detailed allegations are not required,
the complaint must include sufficient facts to afford the
defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon
which they are based and to demonstrate a plausible right to
relief. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555-56 (2007). Conclusory allegations are not sufficient.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The
plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Nevertheless, it is
well-established that “[p]ro se complaints ‘must
be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest
arguments that they suggest.'” Sykes v. Bank of
Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting
Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471,
474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater,
623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules
of solicitude for pro se litigants).
alleges the following facts. On January 8, 2018, at
approximately 9:00 a.m., Reinoso-Delacruz was assaulted in
his cell at the Manson Youth Institution (“MYI”)
by another inmate named Boyd. Am. Compl., Doc. No. 9 at
¶ 1. Boyd entered Reinoso-Delacruz's cell and hit
him with a sock full of batteries wrapped around his hand.
Id. at ¶ 4. The assault caused Reinoso-Delacruz
to suffer a broken jaw for which he continues to receive
physical therapy. Id. at ¶ 5. Prior to the
assault, Reinoso-Delacruz had informed Correction Officers
Grabowski and Ruggerio that Boyd had threatened him, but the
officers dismissed his complaint, and Grabowski told him to
“stop being a bitch.” Id. at ¶ 2.
Reinoso-Delacruz also had informed Unit Manager Salvatore
about the threats, but Salvatore just said “okay”
and walked away from Reinoso-Delacruz's cell.
Id. at ¶ 3.
January 10, Reinoso-Delacruz was taken to the UConn Health
Center where he underwent a surgical procedure. Am. Compl.,
Doc. No. 9 at ¶ 6. A metal plate was screwed into his
face to hold his jawbone in place. Id. When he
returned to MYI, he was placed in the medical housing unit
which is similar to a restrictive housing unit. Id.
at ¶¶ 7, 10. There, he filed a grievance against
MYI officials for failing to protect him from Boyd, but he
never received a response from any of the officials.
Id. at ¶ 7.
days later, Reinoso-Delacruz filed a request to be placed in
protective custody, but he never received a response from MYI
officials. Am. Compl., Doc. No. 9 at ¶ 8. The next day,
he wrote to Warden Butricks and the Deputy Warden about the
incident. Id. at ¶ 9. Neither official
responded. Id. Days later, Reinoso-Delacruz was
released back into general population at MYI. See
Id. at ¶ 10. While in general population, Unit
Manager Salvatore “forced” him to sign a waiver
stating that he cannot sue DOC officials if something
happened to him during his “release back to the
compound.” Id. Salvatore told him that, if he
did not sign the waiver, he would be confined in the medical
housing unit. Id. Analysis
claims that the defendants violated his Eighth Amendment
protection against cruel and unusual punishment by failing to
protect him from the assault by Boyd. Am. Compl., Doc. No. 9
at 4. He seeks damages against the defendants in their
individual and official capacities. Id. at 2, 4.
However, the Eleventh Amendment bars claims for damages
against state officials in their official capacities. See
Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159 (1985). Therefore,
all claims against the defendants in their official
capacities are dismissed. Reinoso-Delacruz may only obtain
damages against the defendants in their individual
not clear from the complaint whether Reinoso-Delacruz was a
prisoner or a pretrial detainee at the time of the alleged
violation. State judicial records show that he was sentenced
in state court on December 9, 2016 to eighteen months of
imprisonment, followed by three years of probation. State
v. Reinoso-Delacruz, No. D03D-CR15-0151915-S (Conn.
Super. Ct. Dec. 9, 2016). He was then arrested on new charges
in 2017, which served as the basis for a violation of
probation charge. Id.; State v.
Reinoso-Delacruz, No. D03D-CR18-0156998-S (Conn. Super.
Ct. Feb. 28, 2018); State v. Reinoso-Delacruz, No.
DBD-CR17-0155838-S (Conn. Super. Ct. Feb. 28, 2018). He
received a sentence of thirty months' imprisonment on
February 28, 2018, shortly after he was assaulted by Boyd,
for the probation violation and the new charges. State v.
Reinoso-Delacruz, No. D03D-CR15-0151915-S; State v.
Reinoso-Delacruz, No. DBD-CR17-0155838-S. Thus, at the
time of the alleged assault, Reinoso-Delacruz was awaiting
disposition of his probation violation case and the charges
Circuit has not fully addressed whether a probationer
awaiting disposition of his revocation proceeding is
considered a prisoner or a pretrial detainee for purposes of
the Eighth Amendment. See Hill v. County of
Montgomery, 2018 WL 2417839, at *2 (N.D.N.Y. May 29,
2018) (“Whether to classify an individual detained for
a suspected probation violation as a pretrial detainee or a
convicted prisoner is an ‘unresolved and difficult
question.'”) (quoting Harry v. Suarez,
2012 WL 2053533, at *2 n.3 (S.D.N.Y. June 4, 2012)). The
Prison Litigation Reform Act defines “prisoner”
as “any person incarcerated or detained in any facility
who is accused of, convicted of, sentenced for, or
adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the
terms and conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release,
or diversionary program.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(h). If
Reinoso-Delacruz was, indeed, a “prisoner” at the
time of the alleged assault, then his claim would
appropriately be analyzed under the Eighth Amendment's
Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause. See Darnell v.
Pineiro, 849 F.3d 17, 29 (2d Cir. 2017) (rights of
sentenced prisoners considered under Eighth Amendment).
Conversely, if he was a pretrial detainee at the time of the
alleged events, then his claim must be analyzed under the
Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause. See
Id. (rights of pretrial detainees are considered
under the Fourteenth Amendment).
Hill, the district court ruled that the plaintiff's
conditions of confinement claims were governed by the
Fourteenth Amendment based on his assertions that (1) he was
released from the detention facility prior to his probation
revocation proceeding and (2) there was a clerical error
regarding the expiration of his probation term. 2018 WL
2417839, at *2. Because the plaintiff had not yet been given
a hearing on his violation of probation charge, the district
court ruled that his status was more akin to that of a
pretrial detainee, rather than a prisoner. Id.
Although Reinoso-Delacruz was confined at MYI at all times
during which the events giving rise to his complaint
occurred, he was not found guilty of violating his probation
until after the assault by Boyd. Therefore, for purposes of
this ruling, I conclude that Reinoso-Delacruz was a pretrial
detainee at the time of the alleged constitutional violation
and analyze his claim under the Fourteenth Amendment.
prevail on a claim that correction officials failed to
protect him from harm or acted with deliberate
indifference to his safety, a detainee must prove that the
defendant-official acted intentionally to impose the alleged
condition, or recklessly failed to act with reasonable care
to mitigate the risk that the condition posed to the . . .
detainee even though the defendant-official knew, or should