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Velasco v. Semple

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 10, 2019

VICTOR J. VELASCO, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT SEMPLE, et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          Kari A. Dooley United States District Judge.

         Preliminary Statement

         Plaintiff, Victor J. Velasco (“Velasco”), currently confined at Northern Correctional Institution (“Northern”) in Somers, Connecticut, filed this complaint pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Velasco names 137 defendants[1] including employees of the Department of Correction, the University of Connecticut Health Center, and the Department of Public Safety; an Assistant Attorney General; a court reporter; and employees at Inmates' Legal Aid Program. Velasco asserts claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of his rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Doc. No. 1, ¶ 10. He also references the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, the Prison Rape Elimination Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Prison Litigation Reform Act, and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1982, 1985 and 1986. Id., ¶¶ 27-28. The complaint was received on May 28, 2019, and Velasco's motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on June 24, 2019.

         Standard of Review

         Under section 1915A of title 28 of the United States Code, the 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. Id. In reviewing a pro se complaint, the Court must assume the truth of the allegations, and interpret them liberally to “raise the strongest arguments [they] suggest[].” Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007). see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants). 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.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         Allegations

         Velasco is 43 years old. He suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. Doc. No. 1, Statement of Claims, ¶ 25.

         On March 6, 2018, in the presence of Warden Nick Rodriguez, Velasco informed Commissioner Semple of his various claims. The next day, Warden Rodriguez emailed John Aldi about the conversation. Doc. No. 1, Statement of Facts ¶ 1. Aldi acknowledged the email. Id., ¶ 2.

         On January 17, 2011, Velasco filed an administrative remedy regarding his religion of Kingism, exercise, and medical issues. Then-warden Angel Quiros responded to the grievance on January 21, 2011. Id., ¶ 3. Quiros directed Velasco to contact Religious Services regarding concerns about his religion or religious affiliation. Id., ¶ 4. On January 24, 2011, Velasco submitted a request to Religious Services asking that his religious designation be changed to Kingism. Id., ¶ 5.

         In January 2019, Velasco received by mail over 2000 documents from Department of Correction files. One document addressed to John Aldi from Religious Services and dated March 16, 2011, stated: “‘Kingism'-a religion/code of conduct that the Latin Kings (gang) follow and obey. -the above is a direct quote from one of the Google sites. ‘Kingism'-Google it-lots of hits.” Id., ¶ 6.

         Velasco alleges that Aldi deliberately concealed this document from him in 2011 to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Velasco because Velasco had filed a federal lawsuit against Aldi's friends and co-workers. Id., ¶ 7. Velasco claims that the concealment of this document prevented him from pursuing a claim regarding his religion in 2011. Id., ¶ 8.

         On March 16, 2011, Reverend Bruno submitted a contraband/physical evidence tag and chain of custody document to Aldi regarding the request for designation of religion. Id., ¶ 9. On March 28, 2011, Velasco was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in a federal court action. Id., ¶ 10.

         The next day, Aldi issued a disciplinary report for Security Risk Group (“SRG”) or gang affiliation. He did not reference the March 16, 2011 note which Velasco considered exculpatory. Id., ¶ 11. S. Wilson was the investigator on the disciplinary charge. Id., ¶ 12. He recorded three witnesses requested by Velasco, obtained a witness statement from Warden Quiros, and obtained supplemental reports from Reverend Bruno and Robert Bernd. Id., ¶ 13. Bernd states that Kingism was not a recognized religion. Velasco alleges that he recognizes Kingism as a religion and assumes that the note indicated that the Department of Correction recognized Kingism as a religion after the Google search. Id., ¶ 14. The investigator's report does not reference the Google search results. Id., ¶ 15.

         Velasco chose Counselor Kay as his advocate. Id., ¶ 16. Counselor Kay initiated his advocate's investigation on April 6, 2011 but did nothing. Id., ¶¶ 17-18. Counselor Kay recommended a guilty finding. Id., ...


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