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Shand v. Chapdelaine

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 30, 2019




         Pro se plaintiff Christopher Shand, currently incarcerated at Northern Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut, has filed a complaint pursuant 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He names as defendants Warden Chapdelaine; Deputy Wardens Hines, Guadarrama, and Mudano; Captains Salius and Rivera; Counselor Supervisor John Aldi; Lieutenant White; Correctional Officers Michaud, Aubert, Bard, Chylinski, Vanostrand, Brysgel, DeJoinville, St. Clair, and Irrizary; and Unit Counselors Skribiski and Maiorana (the “Defendants”). Shand contends that Defendants have acted with deliberate indifference to his health and safety. As a result of the alleged violation, Shand seeks damages and declaratory relief from Defendants in their individual capacities.


         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review prisoner civil complaints against governmental actors and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is “frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2). “[T]he district judge's § 1915A review of whether a complaint ‘fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted' is guided by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as interpreted by [United States] Supreme Court and Second Circuit decisions whose principles have become familiar.” Green v. Martin, 224 F.Supp.3d 154, 160 (D. Conn. 2016). Although detailed allegations are not required, a complaint must “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim that is plausible on its face.'“ Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the Court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. This plausibility standard is not simply a “probability requirement, ” but imposes a standard higher than “a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id.

         In undertaking this analysis, the Court must “draw all reasonable inferences in [the plaintiff's] favor, assume all well-pleaded factual allegations to be true, and determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Faber v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 648 F.3d 98, 104 (2d Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). However, the Court is “not bound to accept conclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as factual conclusions, ” id., and “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Ultimately, “[d]etermining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 679.

         Pro se submissions “are reviewed with special solicitude, and ‘must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'” Matheson v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Tr. Co., 706 Fed.Appx. 24, 26 (2d Cir. 2017) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006) (per curiam)). See also Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (“A document filed pro se is ‘to be liberally construed,' and ‘a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” (internal citations omitted)). This liberal approach, however, does not exempt pro se litigants from the minimum pleading requirements described above: A pro se plaintiff's complaint still must “‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Mancuso v. Hynes, 379 Fed.Appx. 60, 61 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Therefore, even in a pro se case, “threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice, ” Chavis v. Chappius, 618 F.3d 162, 170 (2d Cir. 2010) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted), and the Court may not “invent factual allegations” that the plaintiff has not pleaded. Id.


         The factual allegations contained in the Complaint are recounted below, recited in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.

         On March 14, 2014, Shand was housed in the B2 Housing Unit at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution (“MacDougall-Walker”). Doc. 1 (“Compl.”) ¶ 15. Security Risk Group (“SRG”) inmates at MacDougall-Walker are assigned to the B1 and B2 Housing Units. Id. ¶¶ 16-17.

         While in the B2 Housing Unit, Shand received numerous threats from other inmates. Id. ¶ 18. Inmates told Shand that other inmates were “going to get him” and he received similar threats in written notes. Id. ¶¶ 19-20. Shand immediately reported all threats to Captains Salius and Rivera and told them he feared for his life. Id. ¶ 21. They ignored the threats. Id. ¶ 22.

         On September 7, 2014, Shand was assaulted by his cellmate. He was escorted to the Restrictive Housing Unit (“RHU”) and then transferred to the B1 Housing Unit. Id. ¶ 23. Shand received similar notes and verbal threats from the inmates in the B1 Housing Unit. Id. ¶ 24. He told Captain Rivera, the custody supervisor, the correctional officers assigned to the unit, the deputy wardens and the warden about the threats. Id. ¶ 25. He provided staff with the notes and the names of the inmates who were threatening him. Id. ¶ 26. No. action was taken. Id. ¶ 27.

         On January 5, 2015, Shand was transferred to Northern Correctional Institution (“Northern”). Id. ¶ 28. On April 13, 2016, Shand sent a letter to John Aldi regarding his safety concerns. Id. ¶ 29. The letter was followed by a legal call with John Aldi. Id. ¶ 30. Aldi dismissed Shand's concerns for his safety and refused to transfer him to a different housing unit. Id. ¶ 31. He did say that he would relay Shand's concerns to Captain Rivera. Id. ¶ 32.

         On May 16, 2016, Shand was returned to MacDougall-Walker. Id., ¶ 33. While in the Admitting and Processing Room, Shand told Officer Michaud and Lieutenant White that his life was in danger and he was concerned for his safety if he returned to the B1 or B2 Housing Units. Id. ¶ 34. They ignored his complaints. Id. ¶ 35.

         Shand was escorted to the B1 Housing Unit. Id. Upon arrival, Shand told correctional staff that he felt suicidal. Id. ¶ 36. The officers called mental health staff and Shand was escorted to RHU. He was placed in a Ferguson gown under observation for several days. Id. ΒΆ 37. When he was cleared by mental health ...

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