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Lindsay v. Semple

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 22, 2019

SEMPLE, et al., Defendants.


          Janet C. Hall United States District Judge


         The plaintiff, Marques Lindsay[1] (“Lindsay”), incarcerated at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Center in Suffield, Connecticut, has filed a Complaint (Doc. No. 1) pro se under section 1983 of title 42 of the United States Code. Lindsay sought leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 2). On May 22, 2019, the court granted Lindsay's application. (Doc. No. 6).

         The Complaint names six defendants in the caption: 1) former Commissioner Semple, 2) Commissioner Cook, 3) Director of Offender Classification and Population Management Miaga, 4) Director of Security Santiago, 5) Counselor Supervisor Crandall, and 6) Security Risk Group Coordinator Aldi. Within the body of the Complaint, Lindsay includes an additional sixteen defendants: 1) Intelligence Officer Gargano, 2) Security Risk Group Lieutenant Parnishkul, 2) Security Risk Group Lieutenant Kelly, 3) Lieutenant Bragdon, 4) Disciplinary Report Investigator Dousis, 5) Restrictive Housing Unit Manager Cronin, 6) Correctional Officer Messier, 7) Lieutenant Stadalnik, 8) Correctional Officer Greene, 9) Correctional Officer Fiore, 10) Lieutenant Michaud, 11) Registered Nurse Brennan, 12) Doctor Yesu, 13) Deputy Warden Carlos, 14) Deputy Warden Cotta, 15) Warden Faucher, and 16) Security Risk Group Coordinator Papoosha. Compl. at 3-7. All defendants are named in their individual and official capacities. Lindsay seeks monetary, compensatory, and punitive damages against the defendants in their individual and official capacities as well as an injunction directing the defendants to remove him from Security Risk Group (“SRG”) programming and place him in “a general population facility of mental health.” Compl. at 47-48.

         Under section 1915A of title 28 of the United States Code, the court must review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any portion of a 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. 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). Although detailed allegations are not required, a 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. 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 se litigants). However, notwithstanding this liberal interpretation, a pro se complaint will not survive dismissal unless the factual allegations meet the plausibility standard. See, e.g., Fowlkes v. Ironworkers Local 40, 790 F.3d 378, 387 (2d Cir. 2015).


         On February 2, 2016, Lindsay was discharged from the SRG unit of the Department of Correction. Compl. at 8 ¶ 33. On October 9, 2018, Lindsay was readmitted to custody and processed as a pretrial detainee. During intake processing, Officer Gargano consulted computer records and asked Lindsay if he was still a member of the SRG Bloods. Lindsay said no. Officer Gargano told Lindsay that he would be going to a segregated housing unit. When Lindsay questioned why he was being punished when he had changed his life and had received no new disciplinary reports, he was ignored. Id. ¶ 34.

         That evening, Lieutenant Parnishkul escorted Lindsay to a segregated housing unit. He was directed to remove his clothing, bend at the waist, spread his buttocks, and cough. After the strip search, Lindsay was placed in a cell. Id. ¶ 35. About an hour later, a restrictive housing unit status order was slipped under Lindsay's cell door. The notice stated that, because Lindsay was designated a member of the SRG Bloods, his continued presence in general population posed a serious threat to the safety and security of the facility. Id. at 9 ¶ 36.

         Lindsay's intake occurred at Bridgeport Correctional Center (“Bridgeport”). Id. ¶ 37. Lindsay argues that his placement in segregation violates Administrative Directive 9.5, Section 43 which provides that once an inmate is discharged, any penalties or sanctions will not resume if he is reincarcerated. Id. ¶ 38.

         On October 10, 2018, Lindsay was required to use shower shoes belonging to the housing unit to take a shower. Because he was in a segregated unit, he was unable to purchase his own shower shoes from the commissary. Id. ¶ 39. Lindsay also was handcuffed while going to and from the shower even though he had not been found guilty of a criminal charge or been issued a disciplinary report. Id. ¶ 40. Lindsay was handcuffed and shackled everywhere he went in the facility. Id. ¶ 41.

         Lindsay wanted to use the inmate telephone. In the evening of October 10, 2018, he submitted an inmate request to Counselor Guyers asking for an inmate PIN number. Id. ¶ 42. The following morning Lindsay questioned Counselor Guyers about his request. She told him that inmates in the Restrictive Housing Unit (“RHU”) were permitted phone calls on Thursdays and that they were given three showers per week. Counselor Guyers told Lindsay that he had to be careful because he would be handcuffed while walking to and using the phone. Lindsay submitted inmate request forms to Officer Gargano and Lieutenant Parnishkul and then grievances to try to resolve his perceived punishment. Id. ¶ 43.

         On November 8, 2018, Lindsay was transferred to the SRG program at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution (“Corrigan”). He was readmitted as a Blood member and denied a ninety-day review. Id. ¶ 44. While at Bridgeport, Lindsay did not meet with the facility Intelligence Coordinator and did not receive notification of the revival of his SRG file or notification of the results of a review. The only form he received notified him that he was on administrative detention status pending transfer. Lindsay considers the failure to provided appropriate documentation a due process failure resulting in an atypical and significant hardship. Id. ¶ 45.

         Lindsay informed the transport officers that he would have a better chance to prepare for his criminal case or post bond if he remained at Bridgeport. The officer threated disciplinary action which would result in sanctions and suspension of Lindsay's phone privileges, thereby impeding Lindsay's ability to prepare his case or post bond. Lindsay complied with the transport to Corrigan even though he knew that the facility to which he was going had no law library and phone calls would be restricted. Id. ¶ 46.

         Upon entering his cell in the Corrigan RHU SRG unit, Lindsay wrote to Lieutenant Kelly asking why he was assigned to SRG housing and complaining about the coldness of his cell. Id. ¶ 47.

         The following evening, Lindsay attended recreation. He was given state-issued shower shoes. The drain in the shower was clogged, so Lindsay had to shower while standing in a puddle of dirty water. He was required to shower, call loved ones, and contact the unit counselor all in one hour. Upon returning to his cell, Lindsay submitted a second request to Lieutenant Kelly about the temperature in his cell. The cold temperature caused Lindsay to shiver and prevented him from falling asleep. During the night, Lindsay wrote to the mental health unit seeking medication for psychiatric reasons and an anti-depressant. Id. ¶ 48.

         On November 15, 2018, Lindsay left his cell for court. When he returned to Corrigan that evening, he had been sentenced and was no longer a pretrial detainee. Lindsay was housed in the same cell among sentenced inmates both before and after he was sentenced. Id. ¶ 49.

         During the night of November 29, 2018, while all inmates were in their cells, an unidentified member of the Bloods spoke to Lindsay through the ventilation system. The voice told Lindsay that he should “pack [his] belongings and leave” because the Bloods knew that Lindsay had been assaulted by many subsets of the Bloods. The voice explained that they needed “to get in tough with higher-ups who ordered [Lindsay] murdered, ” and then said, “We'll get you again.” The voice told Lindsay that Lindsay had “disrespected beyond repair” and that he would be “jumped and stabbed by a member” serving a long sentence. Lindsay believes that this conversation explained why he was permitted to use the Bloods-only telephone even though he was not a Blood and why Blood members followed him around and stayed close to him. The voice also cautioned Lindsay that, if he left the housing unit, they would send word to his new housing unit. Lindsay told the voice that he would remain in the housing unit. He was unable to sleep that night. Id. ¶ 50.

         The following morning, Lindsay went to court. Upon his return that evening he spoke with Lieutenant Bragdon and requested placement in protective custody. Lindsay stated: “The Unit is too hot for me. My Name is Loud on the hit list. I need to clear my head.” Lindsay was sent to RHU and placed on administrative detention status. A few hours later, he received a disciplinary report for refusing housing. Lieutenant Bragdon states in the report that Lindsay had said, ”I'm not going back to the unit. The Unit is too loud, and I need to clear my head.” Lindsay submitted an inmate request to Lieutenant Kelly stating that he had requested protective custody placement and that the Lieutenant Bragdon had included false statements in the disciplinary report. Id. ¶ 51.

         On December 4, 2018, disciplinary investigator Dousis asked Lindsay if he was going to sign the disciplinary ticket. Lindsay told her that he had not refused housing but rather had requested protective custody placement. Lieutenant Bragdon had twisted his safety request to support the charge. Lindsay said that he wanted to be transferred to a facility with less aggressive inmates where he would not be threatened. Lindsay told Dousis that, before he was incarcerated, he had been assaulted by four different subsets of the Bloods. Following the assault, he experienced a seizure and awoke in Bridgeport Hospital. He suffered a brain aneurism, vision damage, long-term memory loss, as well as bruises and contusions. Dousis encouraged Lindsay to sign the ticket if he wanted safety. Lindsay did so. Id. ¶ 52.

         That night, Lindsay submitted two inmate requests to Lieutenant Kelly. In the first request, he wrote about his assault and seizure in the community on September 28, 2018, and explained that this was the sole reason for his seeking protective custody and a less restrictive facility. In the second request, Lindsay included information about the threat he received in prison. He also identified the persons who attacked him in the community, who the attackers were connected to in Corrigan, and which inmates talked to the outside sources. He identified who wanted to hurt him and who wanted to stab him. Id. ¶ 53.

         The morning of December 5, 2018, Lindsay went to the RHU showers. He did not see the personal shower slippers that Corrigan had issued him, and so used recycled shower slippers. The water was freezing. Lindsay complained to Unit Manager Cronin about being housed in a cold cell after a freezing shower. Id. ¶ 54.

         On December 6, 2018, Lindsay met with Lieutenant Kelly. Lindsay described the recent threat and explained his reasons for seeking protective custody. He told Lieutenant Kelly that his injuries from the prior assault prevented him from being able to defend himself if he was assaulted again. Lieutenant Kelly persuaded Lindsay to remain at Corrigan and transfer to a different housing unit. Id. ¶ 55. That evening, Lindsay felt paranoid and experienced feelings of suicide and homicide. He wrote to the mental health unit seeking medication. Id. ¶ 56.

         On December 7, 2018, Lindsay moved from echo-unit to bravo-unit. Upon entering his cell, his cellmate asked what gang he belonged to. Lindsay said that he was not a gang member. His cellmate told him that they would be having recreation next. Lindsay was unable to take a shower because there were no state-issued shower shoes in his property bag. When Lindsay tried to use the phone, Blood members told him he could not use their phone but had to use the neutral phone. However, an inmate interceded and permitted Lindsay to use the Blood phone because the neutral phones were already being used. Lindsay used the phone for the entire hour of recreation. Lindsay understood that the Bloods in bravo-unit knew that he had refused to be “friendly extorted” in the community, i.e., had refused to contribute money that was used to financially assist Blood members and their families. Id. ¶ 57.

         Later that night, the inmate in the cell next to Lindsay told him that he should pack his property and leave the unit. The inmate told Lindsay, “you are a plate, you are to be [e]aten, ” “you disobeyed your end of the deal.” The voice sounded like the inmate who had permitted Lindsay to use the phone. The inmate told Lindsay that he would be “eaten” when the doors opened for recreation the next day. That night, however, inmates in the unit were involved in an altercation with the extraction team and the unit was put on lockdown. Id. ¶ 58.

         Lindsay was scheduled to go to court on December 10, 2018. Upon his return to Corrigan, Lindsay told Officer Messier that the Bloods in both housing units wanted to harm him and that Lieutenant Kelly had disregarded his plea for safety. Lindsay told Officer Messier that he wanted to be placed in protective custody as soon as possible. Officer Messier told Lindsay that he was going to get a disciplinary report for refusing housing. Lindsay replied that he was not refusing housing and asked that a lieutenant be called. Id. ¶ 59.

         Lieutenant Stadalnik arrived soon after to escort Lindsay to RHU. Lindsay felt safe in RHU even though he had to use communal shower shoes and the water and air temperatures were cold. Lieutenant Stadalnik delivered the disciplinary report but no restrictive housing unit status report telling Lindsay what his status was. Lindsay told Lieutenant Stadalnik that he was seeking safety not refusing housing, but Lieutenant Stadalnik just walked off. Id. ¶ 60.

         On December 11, 2018, a week after his first request, Lindsay submitted a request for mental health treatment. He stated that his mother had died and his friend had committed suicide. He requested medication and noted that he had been on different medication in the community. Id. ¶ 61. On December 13, 2018, Nurse Brennan returned Lindsay's mental health requests dated November 10, 2018, and December 11, 2018. Regarding the November request, Nurse Brennan stated that she was unable to renew medications that were not current. Regarding the December request, Nurse Brennan asked Lindsay to list his current medications and identify the pharmacy he used, and also to identify where in New Haven he had been receiving mental health therapy. Lindsay states that he had included this information in his request. Id. ¶ 62.

         On December 14, 2018, Dr. Yesu toured the housing unit. Lindsay stopped Dr. Yesu as he passed the cell door. Lindsay described the injuries from the assault in the community and stated that RHU and the threats he has received affected his mental health. Lindsay stated that he knew who had ordered the assault but not the identities of the persons who attacked him. He also stated that the mental health unit was aware that he was hearing voices in his head, but it had not provided medication to treat this condition. Id. ¶ 63.

         That afternoon, Lindsay was brought to a confidential area in the RHU to speak with Lieutenant Kelly. He was handcuffed to a chair that was bolted to the floor. Lindsay told Lieutenant Kelly that he could not remain in echo-unit or bravo-unit. He stated that he was not supposed to be in RHU at any time since his readmission. Lindsay stated that he would submit ...

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