United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
A. Dooley, United States District Judge.
Raudell Mercado (“Mercado”), currently confined
at Hartford Correctional Center in Hartford, Connecticut,
filed this complaint pro se under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, although counsel has since appeared for the Plaintiff.
Mercado contends that the defendants, Deputy Commissioner
Monica Rinaldi and Does 1-10, have violated his rights to
procedural and substantive due process under the Fifth and
Fourteenth Amendments and subjected him to cruel and unusual
punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Mercado also
asserts state law claims for violation of his rights under
Article first, sections 8 and 9 of the Connecticut
Constitution and for intentional and/or negligent infliction
of emotional distress. Although Mercado describes the action
as seeking damages and injunctive relief, he includes only
requests for compensatory and punitive damages in the prayer
for relief. The complaint was received on June 12, 2019, and
Mercado's motion to proceed in forma pauperis
was granted on June 19, 2019.
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.
November 11, 2017, Mercado was incarcerated as a pretrial
detainee at the New Haven Correctional Center. Doc. No. 1,
¶ 11. He asked Officer Smith, the officer manning the
control station, for tissues. Officer Smith said there was no
tissue. Id., ¶¶ 12-13. Mercado then
grabbed some paper towels and Officer Smith got “in
plaintiff's face.” Id., ¶ 14.
laughed at Officer Smith's response. Officer Smith said
he had no time for Mercado and again got in Mercado's
face. Mercado assumes this was an attempt to provoke Mercado
to initiate a physical altercation. Id., ¶ 15.
Mercado noticed that Officer Smith's hand was near his
body alarm. If Officer Smith had activated the alarm, other
correctional officers would have been alerted to an assault
on staff. Id., ¶ 16. Mercado did not
“take the bait.” Instead, he began walking away
to try to deescalate the situation. Id., ¶ 17.
Officer Smith violently pushed Mercado as a further act of
provocation. Id., ¶ 18.
contacted the state police, made coffee, and returned to his
cell. Id., ¶ 19. At no time, did Officer Smith
activate his body alarm. Id., ¶ 20. No. audible
alarm was sounded to signal an assault on staff.
Id., ¶ 21. After Mercado called the state
police to report an assault by Officer Smith, two
correctional officers and a lieutenant entered Mercado's
cell and told him that he was being immediately taken to
Punitive Segregation for allegedly assaulting staff.
Id., ¶ 23.
the transfer, Mercado was taken to the medical unit because
he previously had been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and the officers
feared that Mercado would engage in self-harm. Id.,
¶ 24. The state police arrived while Mercado was in the
medical unit. He described the assault by Officer Smith to
the state police. Id., ¶¶ 25-26. Mercado
received a disciplinary charge for assaulting an officer. He
spent fourteen days in Punitive Segregation. Id.,
November 19, 2017, Mercado attended the disciplinary hearing
for the charge of assaulting Officer Smith. Although Mercado
pled not guilty, the hearing officer found him guilty of the
charge. Mercado was sanctioned with time in Punitive
Segregation. Id., ¶ 31.
the hearing, Deputy Warden Stacy Memora submitted an
Administrative Segregation packet. The request to place
Mercado in Administrative Segregation was granted.
Id., ¶ 32. On November 23, 2017, Mercado was
transferred to Northern Correctional Institution. Upon his
arrival he was placed on behavioral observation status and
his property was confiscated. Id., ¶ 33.
hearing on Mercado's placement in Administrative
Segregation was held on December 3, 2017. Id.,
¶ 34. Hearing Officer Tugi recommended that
Mercado's placement be suspended. He found there was
insufficient evidence that Mercado actually assaulted Officer
Smith. Id., ¶ 35. Director of Population
Management Maiga overruled the decision. Id., ¶
36. Mercado promptly appealed the decision to overrule the
hearing officer and continue Mercado in Administrative
Segregation. He submitted the appeal to the Deputy
Commissioner's Office. Id., ¶ 37.
defendant Rinaldi nor anyone from her office responded to
Mercado's appeal for 11 months. Id., ¶ 39.
Mercado sent several reminder letters to defendant
Rinaldi's office requesting action on his appeal. He
received no response to his ...