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Crocker v. Chapdelaine

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 28, 2019

SHAWN CROCKER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROL CHAPDELAINE, et al., Defendants.

          RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Kari A. Dooley United States District Judge

         Preliminary Statement

         The plaintiff, Shawn Crocker (“Crocker”), commenced this civil rights action asserting claims for violation of his constitutional rights to due process and equal protection of the laws in connection with an administrative segregation hearing. Following the Court's, Hall, D.J., initial review, one claim remained, a Procedural Due Process Clause claim relating to a change in the charges against him. Initial Review Order, Doc. No. 9, at 5-7. The defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. They argue that Crocker's claims are barred by the release and settlement agreement he entered in another case, Crocker v. Murphy, No. 3:13-cv01774(JCH). For the reasons that follow, the defendants' motion is granted.

         Standard of Review

         A motion for summary judgment may be granted only where there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56(a), Fed. R. Civ. P.; see also Nick's Garage, Inc. v. Progressive Cas. Ins. Co., 875 F.3d 107, 113-14 (2d Cir. 2017). “A genuine issue of material fact exists if ‘the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'” Nick's Garage, 875 F.3d at 113-14 (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). Which facts are material is determined by the substantive law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. “The same standard applies whether summary judgment is granted on the merits or on an affirmative defense ….” Giordano v. Market Am., Inc., 599 F.3d 87, 93 (2d Cir. 2010).

         The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying the admissible evidence it believes demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party meets this burden, the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Wright v. Goord, 554 F.3d 255, 266 (2d Cir. 2009). He cannot “‘rely on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation' but ‘must come forward with specific evidence demonstrating the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact.'” Robinson v. Concentra Health Servs., 781 F.3d 42, 34 (2d Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must present such evidence as would allow a jury to find in his favor. Graham v. Long Island R.R., 230 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 2000).

         Although the court is required to read a self-represented “party's papers liberally and interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest, ” Willey v. Kirkpatrick, 801 F.3d 51, 62 (2d Cir. 2015), “unsupported allegations do not create a material issue of fact” and do not overcome a properly supported motion for summary judgment. Weinstock v. Columbia Univ., 224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000).

         Facts[1]

         The events underlying Crocker's claim in this case occurred in 2015. Doc. No. 27-2, ¶ 2. At the time this action was brought, Crocker was party to another suit, Crocker v. Murphy, No. 3:13-cv-1774(JCH), which also arose out of his conditions of confinement. On July 6, 2018, to resolve that pending matter, Crocker signed a settlement agreement and release. Id., ¶ 3. The settlement agreement and release contained the following language:

By executing this Release and Settlement Agreement, the Plaintiff hereby agrees to release and forever discharge the Defendants, the State of Connecticut, its employees, officers, officials, agents, or representatives, of any kind, and their heirs, successors, and assignees, from all actions, causes of action, suits, claims, controversies, damages, and demands of every nature and kind, including costs, attorneys' fees, and monetary and equitable relief, which the Plaintiff and his heirs, successors, and assignees ever had, now have, or hereafter can, shall, or may have for, upon, or by reason of any matter, cause, or thing whatsoever from the beginning of the world until and including the date Plaintiff signs this Release and Settlement Agreement, including but not limited to acts arising out of, or in any way related to the incidents or circumstances which formed the basis for the above-captioned lawsuit, including but not limited to such actions as may have been or in the future may be brought in the federal courts, the courts of the State of Connecticut, the courts of any other state or jurisdiction, any state or federal administrative agency, or before the Connecticut Officer of the Claims Commissioner pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 4-141 et seq. This Release and Settlement Agreement includes, but is not limited to, all causes of action alleging violations of the Plaintiff's state and federal constitutional rights, his rights arising under the statutes and laws of the United States, under the statutes and laws of the State of Connecticut, under the statutes and laws of any other state or jurisdiction, and causes of action available under the common law.

Id., ¶ 4 & Ex. A at 1-2. In a separate paragraph, the release also provided: “[T]he State of Connecticut will pay to the Plaintiff the total sum of three thousand seven hundred dollars and zero cents ($3, 700.00) in full and final settlement of these and any and all other matters.” Id.

         Crocker's counsel signed the document on July 10, 2018. Id., ¶ 5 & Ex. A. at 4. In exchange for entering the settlement agreement and release, Crocker received $3, 700.00. Id., ¶ 6 & Ex. B.

         Discussion

         The Defendants seek summary judgment because, they assert, the release Crocker signed applies to the claims ...


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