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Walsh v. Coleman

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 18, 2019

JOSEPH COLEMAN et al., Defendants.



         Patrick Walsh is a prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”) and is currently confined at MacDougall Walker Correctional Institution. He has filed a complaint pro se and in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against six correctional officials in their individual and official capacities for damages and injunctive relief. Walsh claims that defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right against prison officials' deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, and that defendants violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. His claims principally arise from the denial of his multiple requests to be placed on single cell status as well as his request for special transport arrangements for any trips he must make outside of the prison facility. Walsh requests damages, a declaratory judgment, and a permanent injunction. In the interim, he seeks a temporary restraining order or-in the alternative-a preliminary injunction. For the reasons stated below, I will dismiss the Eighth Amendment claim, allow the ADA and Rehabilitation Act claims to proceed, and deny without prejudice Walsh's request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.


         Walsh has named the following six defendants: DOC Commissioner Rollin Cook, MacDougall-Walker Wardens Carol Chapdelaine and William Mulligan, Deputy Warden Gerald Hines, Dr. Joseph Coleman, and DOC Health and Addiction Services head Colleen Gallagher.The following facts are alleged in the complaint and are accepted as true only for purposes of this ruling. Prior to his incarceration, Walsh underwent psychiatric evaluation and treatment. Doc. #1 at 4 (¶¶ 12-16). He was previously diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”), chronic depression, anxiety, mixed personality disorder, episodic alcohol abuse, paranoia, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Id. at 4-5 (¶¶ 12-18). Walsh had been hospitalized and treated with various psychiatric medications. Ibid. (¶¶ 14-16).

         On August 10, 1995, Walsh was arrested and admitted into DOC custody. Doc. #1 at 5 (¶ 19). Upon his admission, he was evaluated by mental health personnel, who incorporated his written medical history. Id. at 5-6 (¶¶ 20-21). On June 22, 1999, Walsh was found guilty of murder and later sentenced to a term of 55 years of imprisonment. Id. at 6 (¶ 22).

         During the first four years of his sentence, Walsh was regularly seen by DOC mental health staff and was prescribed numerous trials of psychiatric medications. Ibid. (¶ 23). From 2003-2016, however, Walsh was not evaluated or treated by mental health staff for his chronic conditions, nor was he prescribed any medications. Ibid. (¶ 24). During those years, Walsh filed numerous requests but was told that he could only see mental health staff if he was taking medications. Ibid. (¶ 25). Walsh also learned that being prescribed medications would increase his inmate mental health classification to a Level 3, which would require evaluations on a regular basis. Ibid.

         In 2013, Walsh was transferred to MacDougall-Walker. Ibid. (¶ 26). On August 29, 2016, he wrote a two-page letter to Chapdelaine, who was then the warden of MacDougall-Walker, informing her of his documented mental health diagnoses and treatment and that his confinement at MacDougall-Walker had worsened his symptoms. Id. at 6-7 (¶ 27). Walsh also requested that he be placed on single-cell status at MacDougall-Walker. Id. at 7 (¶ 27). That same day, he also filed a Request for Reasonable Accommodations (“RRA”) requesting single-cell status. Ibid. (¶ 28). Walsh reasoned that his confinement “with numerous unknown cellmates over the past three years ha[d] caused a regression and deterioration of coping mechanisms in dealing with clinically diagnosed [psychiatric disabilities].” Ibid. Walsh documented his previous evaluations, diagnoses, and hospitalizations in support of his RRA. Ibid.

         On September 1, 2016, Walsh submitted a request to Dr. Coleman, stating that his “mental health condition [was] deteriorating due to conditions within [his] cell” and describing his difficulty with relating to others in his unit. Ibid. (¶ 29). He asked Dr. Coleman to schedule an appointment for an evaluation. Ibid.

         On September 29, 2016, Walsh sent a second letter to Chapdelaine, who had not responded to his first letter, again seeking approval for single-cell status. Id. at 7-8 (¶ 30). Walsh explained that he had spoken with mental health personnel, who commenced a treatment plan for him, and that they supported single-cell status for him. Id. at 8 (¶ 30). Once again, Chapdelaine did not respond to the letter. Ibid. (¶ 31).

         On December 8, 2016, Walsh sent a four-page letter to former Commissioner of Correction Scott Semple, requesting approval for single-cell status. Ibid. (¶ 31). Walsh outlined his psychiatric conditions and explained that his symptoms were worsening. Ibid.

         One month later, on January 15, 2017, Walsh wrote a letter to Dr. Coleman, highlighting his repeated attempts to schedule a mental health evaluation and explaining that Coleman was refusing to evaluate him. Ibid. (¶ 32). That same day, Walsh submitted a second RRA, explaining the reasons for SCS and that he continued to suffer exacerbated symptoms of his psychiatric conditions. Id. at 8-9 (¶ 33). He received a response to his second RRA later that month, stating that Dr. Coleman “would support a temporary [single-cell status] [but that] final approv[al] of [single-cell status] [was] contingent upon Warden approval.” Id. at 9 (¶¶ 34-35). The response was signed by both Dr. Coleman and Captain Hall. Ibid. (¶ 35).

         Walsh responded with a letter to Dr. Coleman on January 31, 2017, informing him that, because of his anxiety and “mental anguish, ” he was uncomfortable with a “temporary” single-cell status assignment, and he needed Coleman to evaluate him. Ibid. (¶ 36). Walsh sent a follow-up letter on February 2, 2017, elaborating on his increased anxiety and stressing that the temporary single-cell status would only contribute to his already worsen[ing] symptoms. Ibid. (¶ 37). He asked Coleman “to consider a more long-term or permanent solution.” Ibid.

         On February 10, 2017, Walsh received a letter from Chapdelaine regarding the letter he had sent to Semple. Ibid. (¶ 38). The letter stated that Walsh's “request for a single cell ha[d] been reviewed and [Chapdelaine] [had] agreed to temporarily place [him] on that list. However, [the] status is subject to review and changes due to bed space availability.” Id. at 9-10 (¶ 38).

         After learning that his single-cell status was limited depending on further review and availability and specific only to MacDougall-Walker, Walsh forwarded a letter to Semple requesting permanent single-cell status, which would apply to all DOC facilities. Id. at 10 (¶ 39). He again outlined his worsening psychiatric symptoms and the inadequate treatment he was receiving at MWCI. Id. Walsh ultimately agreed to the temporary single-cell status and thanked Chapdelaine in a follow-up letter dated February 14, 2017. Ibid. (¶ 40). He advised Chapdelaine that he had already sent another letter to Semple requesting permanent single-cell status. Ibid. On March 9, 2017, he received another response from Chapdelaine stating that she had approved him for temporary single-cell status for three to four months based on Dr. Coleman's recommendation but that there were no clinical reasons for permanent single-cell status. Id. at 10-11 (¶ 42).

         On March 3, 2017, Walsh submitted his third RRA, requesting that he receive “[f]acility transport to and from [c]ourt and/or medical trips” because of his mental health conditions. Id. at 10 (¶ 41). In a letter to Chapdelaine dated March 23, 2017, Walsh again attempted to address the temporary nature of his single-cell status and advised her of his third RRA for facility transports to court as opposed to transporting him via Central Transport Units (“CTUs”). Id. at 11 (¶ 43).[1]Chapdelaine did not respond to this letter, and Walsh continued to endure mental health problems. Ibid.

         On April 3, 2017, Walsh advised Chapdelaine that his temporary single-cell status had commenced on March 24, 2017, but that he still wished to receive permanent single-cell status. Ibid. (¶ 44). He also sent a letter to Dr. Coleman on April 26, 2017, advising him about his temporary single-cell status and inquiring when it would be reviewed. Id. at 12 (¶ 45).

         On April 28, 2017, Walsh sent a request to Captain Hall inquiring about his RRA for facility transports. Ibid. (¶ 46). That RRA was later denied based on Dr. Coleman's conclusion that “facility transport to medical [appointments] [and] court is not supported by mental status findings.” Ibid. (¶ 47). Walsh later filed two written grievances, dated May 8, and May 12, 2017, complaining about his inability to receive permanent single-cell status and facility transports. Ibid. (¶¶ 48-49). Walsh received a response from Hall explaining that Dr. Coleman had determined that facility transports were not necessary at that time. Ibid. (¶ 50).

         In a letter dated June 25, 2017, Walsh informed Dr. Coleman that he had been advised by mental health personnel that his temporary single-cell status had expired. Id. at 12-13 (¶ 51). Walsh explained that it had only been three months since his temporary single-cell status began, and Coleman's recommendation was for “three to four months.” Id. at 13 (¶ 51). Walsh also informed Coleman that he continued to suffer from exacerbated psychiatric symptoms and pleaded with him to “consider the fourth month of the initial . . . recommend[ation].” Ibid.

         This letter was later returned to Walsh with a hand-written response signed by Deputy Warden Hines, stating that his request for single-cell status was denied. Ibid. (¶ 52). Thereafter, Walsh's single-cell status was revoked without any evaluation of his mental health condition. Ibid. (¶ 53). Walsh wrote a letter to Warden Mulligan on June 26, 2017, requesting an extension of his single-cell status. Ibid. (¶ 54). He informed Mulligan that, although his single-cell status had been temporary, it established that there was “some type of need for [him] to be in a single cell.” Ibid. Walsh forwarded a copy of the letter to Commissioner Semple. Ibid. In response to Hines's previous letter, Walsh replied by letter to Hines explaining the basis for his single-cell status, ...

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