United States District Court, D. Connecticut
DANIEL J.A. WEBB, Plaintiff,
MARK FRAYNE, et al. Defendants.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
R. UNDERHILL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
March 27, 2019, Daniel J.A. Webb, an inmate currently
confined at the Northern Correctional Institution in Somers,
Connecticut, brought a complaint pro se and in
forma pauperis under title 42, section 1983 of the
United States Code against four Connecticut Department of
Correction (“DOC”) officials, Dr. Mark Frayne,
Captain Jason Cahill, Lieutenant Catherine A. Osten,
Correction Officer Kevin L. Brace, and one former state
representative, Karen Jarmoc, in their individual and
official capacities. Compl., Doc. No. 1. Webb seeks damages
against the defendants for violations of his Fourteenth
Amendment rights to due process and equal protection of the
laws and various state laws concerning the public disclosure
of his mental health records. On April 23, 2019, Magistrate
Judge William I. Garfinkel granted Webb's motion to
proceed in forma pauperis. See Order, Doc.
No. 8. For the following reasons, the complaint is dismissed.
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
Factual and Procedural Background
constitutional and state law claims stem from a series of
events that occurred between November 2009 and March 2010,
during which the defendants made unauthorized disclosures of
Webb's psychiatric records and communications to DOC
officials who were not privy to such records and members of
the media. Specifically, he alleges that Dr. Frayne sent an
e-mail to other DOC officials, falsely stating that he
“had his sights set on” Captain Cahill, and
Cahill disclosed some of his mental health records he
received from Frayne to Lieutenant Osten, the president of
the union for DOC employees. See Compl., Doc. No. 1
at ¶¶ 15-26. Osten and Officer Brace then shared
the information obtained by Frayne and Cahill to various news
outlets and to Representative Jarmoc, who in turn shared the
information with the Connecticut General Assembly. See
Id. at ¶¶ 148-50. The events led to a DOC
investigation, which ended in sanctions against Cahill and
Osten. See Id. at ¶ 155. Webb is now suing the
defendants for violating his rights to due process and equal
protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment,
negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress,
invasion of privacy, “unreasonable publicity, ”
“intrusion upon seclusion, ” defamation, and
libel. See Compl., Doc. No. 1.
states in his complaint, he has another civil action pending
in this Court against Cahill, Brace, and several other state
officials. Webb v. Armstrong, No. 3:11-CV-1557
(RNC). Webb has raised the same set of claims in that case
regarding the disclosure of his medical information to
unlicensed third parties, the public, and news outlets in
March of 2010. See id., Am. Compl, Doc. No. 95 at
¶¶ 95-108; Tr. of Oral Arg. 2/28/18. Doc. No. 200.
The defendants in that case have moved for summary judgment
on those claims for failure to exhaust administrative
remedies. Id., Mem. of Law in Supp. of Defs.'
Mot. for Summ. J., Doc. No. 182-21, 2. The district court has
not yet issued a written memorandum of decision on the
also filed a civil complaint in state court on May 26, 2017
against Frayne, Cahill, Osten, Brace, and other state
officials, in which he states many of the same claims raised
in this complaint. Webb v. Ducate, No.
TTD-CV17-5007466-S (Conn. Super. Ct. May 26, 2017). The state
court dismissed that complaint for lack of personal
jurisdiction because Webb failed to comply with mandatory
service requirements. Id., Mem. of Decision on Mot.
to Dismiss, Doc. No. 132. Webb filed another civil action in
state court on September 18, 2018 against the same
defendants, alleging the same facts and stating the same
legal claims. Webb v. Frayne, No. TTD-CV18-5010745-S
(Conn. Super. Ct. Sept. 18, 2018). The defendants moved to
dismiss that case on grounds of insufficient service of
process, lack of personal jurisdiction, and sovereign
immunity; id., Mot. to Dismiss, Doc. No. 106; which
the state court granted. Id., J. of Dismissal, Doc.
case, the only federal constitutional claim that Webb makes
is that the dissemination of his psychiatric records violated
his Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal
protection of the laws. See Compl., Doc. No. 1 at
¶ 150. The Second Circuit has recognized a
“constitutional right to privacy in personal
information.” Doe v. City of New York, 15 F.3d
264, 267 (2d Cir. 1994). That constitutional right
“extends in a limited way to prisoners” through
the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Matson v. Bd. of Educ. of City Sch. Dist. of New
York, 631 F.3d 57, 64 (2d Cir. 2011). However, that
constitutional right has only been applied in limited cases,
typically those involving the unnecessary disclosure of an
unusual medical condition which “would likely expose an
inmate to ridicule, discrimination, or even potential
violence . . . .” Gibson v. Rosati, 2016 WL
11478234, at *4 (N.D.N.Y. May 19, 2016) (quoting Williams
v. Perlman, 2009 WL 1652193, at *11 (N.D.N.Y. Feb. 5,
2009)); see also Khalfani v. Secretary, Dep't of
Veterans Affairs, No. 94-CV-5270 (JG), 1999 WL 138247,
at *6 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 10, 1999) (distinguishing between
“deeply personal” medical records and
“mundane” medical information). It is not clear
whether that constitutional right would apply in this case,
where Webb's claim involves the disclosure of e-mails,
which “contain[ed] aspects of [his] confidential mental
health psychological assessments . . . and other confidential
information obtained from his personal data files.”
Compl., Doc. No. 1 at ¶ 145.
Webb's federal claim is barred under the three-year
statute of limitations set forth in Lounsbury v.
Jeffries, 25 F.3d 131, 134 (2d Cir. 1994). There, the
Second Circuit held that claims for violations of
constitutional rights under section 1983 are governed by the
three-year statute of limitations under section 52-577 of the
Connecticut General Statutes. Id. The events that
gave rise to the claims stated in this complaint occurred
between November 2009 and March 2010, well-beyond the
three-year limitations period.
argues that the limitations period should be tolled because
he did not discover his claims until he deposed the
defendants in his other pending federal case. See
Compl., Doc. No. 1 at ¶ 2. However, my review of the
docket in that case shows that Webb had sufficient
information about the claims to file an amended complaint
against Cahill, Brace, and other state officials on April 3,
2015, nearly four years before the filing of the instant
complaint. See Am. Compl., Doc. No. 95, Webb v.
Armstrong, No. 3:11-CV-1557.
also contends that the limitations period should be tolled
for the time he spent litigating the claims in state court,
but section 52-577 does not provide for tolling of the
statute of limitations during a state civil proceeding.
Harnage v. Torres, 665 Fed.Appx. 82, 83-84 (2d Cir.
2016); see also Tavares v. New York City Health and
Hospitals Corp., 2015 WL 158863, at *9 (S.D.N.Y. Jan.
13, 2015) (rejecting argument that filing medical malpractice
action in state court tolls statute of limitations for
federal case); Cancel v. Mazzuca, 2003 WL 1702011,
at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 28, 2003) (rejecting argument that
federal court is required to toll limitations period for time