United States District Court, D. Connecticut
LUIS A. PAGAN, Plaintiff,
CAPTAIN DOUGHERTY, et al. Defendants.
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
VANESSA L. BRYANT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
October 9, 2018, the plaintiff, Luis A. Pagan
(“Plaintiff” or “Pagan”) an inmate
currently confined at Northern Correctional Institution
(“NCI”) in Somers, Connecticut, filed a complaint
pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against
six Department of Correction (“DOC”) officials in
their individual and official capacities: Captain Dougherty,
Lieutenant Tamarro, Lieutenant King, District Administrator
Maldonado, Commissioner Semple, and Correction Officer Kudzal
(collectively “Defendants”) Compl. (Dkt. No. 1).
claims that Defendants violated his rights under the First,
Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United
States Constitution and Article First, Sections 6 and 20 of
the Connecticut Constitution. Id. at 11-13. He seeks
monetary, injunctive, and declaratory relief. Id. at
also filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis .
On October 12, 2018, Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel
granted the plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma
pauperis. [Dkt. No. 8]
also filed a motion for preliminary injunctive relief and a
motion for appointment of counsel. [Dkt. Nos. 3 and 4,
respectively] These motions are pending before the court.
following reasons, the complaint is dismissed in part and the
motions are denied.
Standard of Review
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, this Court 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.
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 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.” Bell Atlantic, 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
America, 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting
Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471,
474 (2d Cir. 2006)).
approximately 9:50 a.m. on June 9, 2017, while he was
confined in Cell 117 of the G-pod housing unit at the
Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution
(“CRCI”) in Uncasville, Connecticut, unit
officers instructed Plaintiff that “intel
officers” wanted to speak with him. Compl. (Statement
of Facts) ¶ 1. The unit officers directed Plaintiff to
their office outside the G-pod unit. Id. There,
Captain Dougherty and Lieutenant Tamarro ordered Plaintiff to
sit down and then proceeded to question him about gang
activity in his unit. Id. at ¶¶ 2-3.
Plaintiff told Dougherty and Tamarro that he is not a gang
member and was not involved in any gang activities.
Id. Both defendants laughed, showed Pagan a pile of
letters that they claimed were Security Risk Group
(“SRG”) material, and asked him, “Do you
know anything about those?” Id. at ¶ 4.
Plaintiff told them that he had nothing to do with the
letters. Id. The defendants then informed the
plaintiff that the letters, which were SRG material, were
found inside Cell 219, which housed another inmate named
William Pabon, and that Pabon admitted to possessing them.
Id. at ¶ 5.
the interview, Dougherty and Tamarro attempted to intimidate
Plaintiff by accusing him of authoring the letters. Compl.
¶ 6. They argued that they could pin the evidence on him
because he was a former member of the Bloods gang.
Id. Dougherty said that Plaintiff's alias
“Two Pound” was found in the letters and that,
consequently, he would be issuing Plaintiff a disciplinary
report (“DR”) for the SRG material found in
Pabon's possession. Id. at ¶ 7.
reaffirmed that he had nothing to do with any SRG material,
that he is not a gang member, and that the alias “Two
Pound” is a common name. Compl. ¶ 8. He told
Dougherty that he would not admit guilt to the DR, nor would
be become a “jailhouse snitch.” Id.
Dougherty replied, “If it ha[s] nothing to do with you,
then help yourself by helping us.” Id. at
¶ 9. Plaintiff refused and told Dougherty that it was
his job to investigate the matter. Id. at ¶ 10.
Dougherty ended the interview by telling Plaintiff, “We
gave you an opportunity to confess. [W]e know you authored
the paperwork so . . . you'll be placed in segregation
pending a [DR] for SRG . . . affiliation, ” a Class 2
offense. Id. at ¶ 11.
concluded there was sufficient basis to charge Plaintiff with
A violation of DOC Administrative Directive 9.5, § 12(Z)
and issued Pagan a DR for SRG affiliation. Plaintiff was
placed in a restrictive housing unit (“RHU”)
pending resolution. Compl. ¶¶ 12-13, 19. The DR
stated that inmate Pabon was found to be in possession of
several SRG (Bloods gang) material and that, after further
investigation, it was determined that the plaintiff authored
the material in an effort to recruit Pabon into the gang.
Id. at ¶ 14; Pl.'s Ex. 1 (Dkt. No. 1 at
does not state the exact location where the SRG material was
found. Compl. ¶ 14. The plaintiff was not given advanced
notice of the hearing on the DR, nor was he provided with a
SRG Determination Form, as required by DOC Administrative
Directive 6.14, § 7(A). Id. at ¶ 17.
12, 2017, Disciplinary Investigator Kudzal came to
Plaintiff's cell in the RHU in order to retrieve the his
two-page, handwritten statement, which would be used in
support of his defense at the DR hearing. Compl. ¶ 20.
Plaintiff told Kudzal that he waived his right to an advocate
for the hearing but that he wanted a written statement from
Pabon, who possessed the SRG material. Id. at ¶
21. Kudzaul told Plaintiff that he would obtain a statement
from Pabon. Id.
14, 2017, Pagan gave Kudzal a second written statement to use
in his defense at the hearing. Compl. ¶ 22. Kudzal then
informed Plaintiff that he had retrieved a written statement
from inmate Pabon. Id. Plaintiff asked Kudzal what
Pabon's statement revealed. Id. at ¶ 23.
Kudzal said that he could not give Plaintiff a copy of inmate
Pabon's statement but that it acknowledged that Plaintiff
had nothing to do with the SRG material found in Pabon's
DR hearing was scheduled for June 15, 2017 before Lieutenant
King. Compl. ¶ 24. At the hearing, King read the report
submitted by Dougherty and other incident reports which were
inconsistent with Dougherty's statements. Id. at
¶ 25. This “misled the plaintiff in preparing for
his defense.” Id.
then asked Plaintiff for his plea to the DR, to which Pagan
responded, “Not Guilty.” Compl. ¶ 26.
Plaintiff asked King to review the statements written by
Pabon and him, but King refused, claiming that the staff
members' reports were sufficient and outweighed
Plaintiff's evidence. Id. at ¶ 27.
Plaintiff argued that the DR was vague and that the DOC does
not have experts trained to analyze the handwriting of the
SRG material to determine whether the plaintiff in fact
authored it. Id. at ¶ 28.
then stated that the evidence implicating Plaintiff was the
discovery of the alias name “Two Pound” in the
material, but Plaintiff argued that he could not be found to
be affiliated with the SRG solely based on the belief that
the name “Two Pound” referred to him. Compl.
¶¶ 29-30. He told King that the DR fails to reveal
any other evidence showing that he had authored the SRG
material. Id. at ¶ 31.
found Pagan guilty of SRG affiliation and designated him as a
member of the Bloods gang. Compl. ¶ 32. In her written
disposition, King stated that her basis for the finding was
“staff observation and documentation submitted.”
Id. She imposed a sanction of 730 days (2 years) in
segregation, 15 days of punitive segregation, 60 days loss of
visits, and 60 days loss of commissary. Id. at
¶ 33. Thereafter, Plaintiff was officially designated as
a Bloods gang member and transferred to NCI, where he entered
Phase 1 of the SRG program. Id. at ¶ 34.
16, 2017, Plaintiff filed an appeal of the DR finding to
District Administrator Maldonado. Compl. ¶ 35. Maldonado
responded to the appeal on July 6, 2017 but failed to correct
what the plaintiff claimed were numerous due process
violations in the DR proceedings at CRCI. Id. In
support of his decision affirming the DR finding, Maldonado
The Hearing Officer's finding was reasonable based on
information and evidence presented at a formal hearing.
Documentation submitted to the presiding Hearing Officer
substantiates that after a random cell shakedown was
conducted in your cell (G-pod 219) on your bunk was a piece of
paper with what appeared to be instructions on how to perform
hand signals and a manila envelope was also found with what
appeared to be additional SRG material. After an extensive
facility investigation, it has been determined that you are
affiliated with the SRG “Bloods.” Therefore, it
has been determined that you meet the criteria, as described
in A.D. 6.14, Security Risk Group.
Pl.'s Ex. 2 (Dkt. No. 1 at 18).
appealed the DR finding and Maldonado's decision to
Commissioner Semple. Compl. ¶ 36. Director of Security
Christine Whidden responded to Plaintiff's appeal,
stating that Plaintiff was the author of the SRG material and
that he is the only inmate known to be ...