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Urbanski v. Lambert

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 12, 2019

THOMAS URBANSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER LAMBERT, ET AL., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER - AMENDED COMPLAINT

          VANESSA L. BRYANT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The plaintiff, Thomas E. Urbanski (“Urbanski”), resides in Torrington, Connecticut. He has filed an amended complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. and the Rehabilitation Act (“RA”), 29 U.S.C. § 794, against the Department of Correction (“DOC”), Officer Lambert and Counselor Supervisor Moore. See Am. Compl., ECF No. 13, at 1 ¶ 2. For the reasons set forth below, the amended complaint is DISMISSED IN PART.

         I. Standard of Review

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the court must review prisoner civil complaints against governmental actors and “dismiss ... any portion of [a] complaint [that] is frivolous, malicious, or 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. Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         Although detailed allegations are not required, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. 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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Although courts still have an obligation to interpret “a pro se complaint liberally, ” the complaint must include sufficient factual allegations to meet the standard of facial plausibility. See Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).

         II. Facts

         The facts are set forth on pages two through seven of the amended complaint. See Am. Compl. at 2-7 ¶¶ 6-37. On January 17, 2018, at Osborn Correctional Institution (“Osborn”), Urbanski wrote to Counselor Supervisor Moore about problems that he had been having with Inmate Craig, who slept in the bunk next to Urbanski in J-1 Dorm. Urbanski sought to be moved to another area of the dorm because Craig was constantly masturbating on his bunk. On January 26, 2018, Urbanski sent a second written request to Counselor Supervisor Moore seeking to be moved away from Inmate Craig.

         On February 5, 2018, Urbanski spoke to Officer Lambert and informed her that Inmate Craig had threatened to kill him if he continued to report Craig's behavior to correctional staff. On February 8, 2018, Urbanski wrote to Counselor Supervisor Moore and indicated that Inmate Craig had made repeated threats to kill him. Counselor Supervisor Moore stated that he would take care of the problem.

         On February 28, 2018, Urbanski sent a written request to Counselor Supervisor Moore indicating that Craig was still threatening to harm him. On March 14, 2018, Urbanski informed Officer Lambert that Craig had threatened to break his neck. Officer Lambert told Urbanski to stop bothering her. Less than an hour later, Craig assaulted Urbanski as he sat in his wheelchair. Officer Lambert did not immediately request assistance from other officers to handle the altercation. Staff members eventually arrived at the scene of the altercation. Several officers escorted Urbanski to the medical unit and several officers escorted Craig to the restrictive housing unit.

         Fewer than two months later Plaintiff again sought Supervisor More's protection. On May 1, 2018, Urbanski wrote to Counselor Supervisor Moore indicating that a different Inmate Williamson threatened to strike him. On May 8, 2018, Urbanski submitted a second request regarding threats made by Williamson. On May 9, 2018, Counselor Supervisor Moore instructed Urbanski to deal with Williamson on his own. On May 12, 2018, Williamson smashed Urbanski's television set and physically assaulted Urbanski using his fists and a metal object. Correctional officers responded to the scene of the assault and escorted both Williamson and Urbanski to the restrictive housing unit.

         On May 13, 2018, Urbanski had two seizures. Medical staff members moved Urbanski to the hospital unit. When Urbanski “came out of the seizure” he noticed that he had defecated on himself. Urbanski informed Officer Lambert that he needed to take a shower and to change into clean clothes. Officer Lambert laughed at Urbanski, accused him of reporting her alleged failure to protect him from the assault by Craig to other prison officials and left Urbanski to “sit” in his own excrement. Every time that Officer Lambert walked by Urbanski's cell, Urbanski pleaded with her to permit him to shower and to provide him with clean clothes. Officer Lambert refused to grant Urbanski's requests and made no attempt to call a medical staff member or custody official to assist Urbanski. Later, during second shift, Nurse Steve permitted Urbanski to use the handicapped shower and provided him with clean clothes.

         Urbanski developed a rash on his legs from sitting in his own excrement. He received treatment for the rash from a medical staff member. Urbanski wrote to Counselor Supervisor Moore and the warden at Osborn about Officer Lambert's conduct.

         III. Discussion

         Urbanski asserts claims under the First and Eighth Amendments against Officer Lambert, a claim under the Eighth Amendment against Counselor Supervisor Moore and the DOC and claims under the RA and Title II of the ADA against Officer Lambert and the DOC. He seeks monetary damages from all defendants and sues Officer Lambert in her individual and official capacities, Counselor Supervisor Moore in his individual capacity and the DOC in its official capacity.

         A. Claims under the ADA and RA

         The purpose of the ADA is “to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.” 42 U.S.C. § 12101(b)(1). Pursuant to Title II of the ADA, “no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.” 42 U.S.C. § 12132. The RA requires that “[n]o otherwise qualified individual with a disability ... shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. . . .” 29 U.S.C. § 794(a).

         To state a claim under Title II of the ADA or the RA, “a plaintiff must adequately plead that (1) he is a qualified individual with a disability; (2) [the defendant] is an “entity subject to the [A]cts; and (3) he was denied the opportunity to participate in or benefit from [the defendant's] services, programs, or activities or [the defendant] otherwise discriminated against him by reason of his disability.” Wright v. N.Y. State Dep't of Corr., 831 F.3d 64, 72 (2d Cir. 2016) (citing Henrietta D. v. Bloomberg, 331 F.3d 261, 272 (2d Cir. 2003). Urbanski alleges that at the time of the events described in the amended complaint, he suffered from a disability that confined him to a wheelchair. See Am. Compl. at 3 ¶ 11. Thus, he arguably meets the first element of an RA or an ADA claim. He also meets the second element because the RA and ADA are applicable to state prisons. See Wright, 831 F.3d at 72 (citing inter alia Pennsylvania Dep't of Corrections v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206, 210 (1998) (holding that “[s]tate prisons fall squarely within the statutory definition of ‘public entity'”).

         Urbanski has asserted a First Amendment retaliation claim based on Officer Lambert's alleged refusal to permit him to shower because he had filed a written grievance and made oral complaints about her conduct in failing to protect him from an assault by another inmate.

         The same allegations that support the retaliation claim may also be read together with other allegations to state a claim that Officer Lambert discriminated against him because of his disabled condition that required the use of a wheelchair. In addition, Urbanski's assertion that Officer Lambert called him a cripple and refused to permit him to or facilitate his use of a handicapped shower to clean himself suggests that she intended to discriminate against him because of his disability. Thus, the court concludes that Urbanski has alleged sufficient facts to meet the third element of the Title II ADA and RA standard. See Escoffier v. City of New York, No. 13-CV-3918 (JPO) (DF), 2017 WL 65322, at *6 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 4, 2017) (“Read liberally, Plaintiff's allegation that, when faced with Plaintiff's inquiry regarding a reported assault, Balunas referred to Plaintiff as a psycho because he always gets assaulted plausibly alleges that Plaintiff was regarded as having an impairment. . . . Further, liberally construed, Plaintiff's allegations that Balunas was combative and hung up the phone on Plaintiff in response to his queries plausibly state that Plaintiff was “denied the opportunity to ... benefit from the defendant's services, ... or was otherwise discriminated against by the defendant because of his disability.”) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted)), recommended ruling adopted by, No. 13-CV-3918 (JPO) (DF), 2017 WL 3206337, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 27, 2017)).

         To the extent that Urbanski seeks monetary damages against Officer Lambert in her individual capacity for violations of the RA and ADA, these claims are dismissed because Title II of the ADA and the RA do not provide for individual capacity suits for monetary damages. See Garcia v. S.U.N.Y. Health Sciences Center of Brooklyn, 280 F.3d 98, 107 (2d Cir. 2001). Accordingly, the claims against Officer Lambert in her individual capacity for violations of the RA and Title II of the ADA are dismissed. See 28 U.S.C. ยง ...


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