United States District Court, D. Connecticut
VICTOR J. VELASCO, Plaintiff,
SCOTT SEMPLE, et al., Defendants.
A. DOOLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Victor J. Velasco (“Velasco”), currently confined
at Northern Correctional Institution (“Northern”)
in Somers, Connecticut, filed this action pro se
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against 137 defendants asserting
claims for violation of his rights under the First, Fourth,
Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, Americans
with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Religious Land
Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”,
the Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”), the
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
(“HIPAA”), the Prison Litigation Reform Act, and
42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1982, 1985 and 1986.
10, 2019, the Court filed an Initial Review Order identifying
several deficiencies in the Complaint and directed Velasco to
file an Amended Complaint clearly identifying the claims he
intends to pursue in this action. The Court directed Velasco
to indicate which defendants are involved in each claim,
describe the actions taken by each defendant, and when those
actions occurred. The Court also advised Velasco that under
the rules regarding joinder of defendants and claims, it
appeared that most of the claims pled were misjoined with
each other and would likely require severance if asserted in
a single complaint. Doc. No. 11 at 10. In response, Velasco
has filed a 71-page Amended Complaint, which includes over
400 paragraphs of factual allegations. He includes all the
claims and defendants from the Complaint, and seeks to add a
claim under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed.
Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), against one
defendant Velasco has determined is a federal agent.
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 span a period of eight years, from 2011 to the
present, with a few references to his initial classification
as a Security Risk Group (“SRG”) member in the
indicated, he identifies 137 defendants of varying job
descriptions, employers, and involvement in his past and
current litigation, the conditions of his confinement and/or
his medical treatment. The resulting Amended Complaint is
lengthy and unwieldy.
clear Velasco did not heed the court's admonition
regarding the improper joinder of defendants and claims in a
Rule of Civil Procedure 20 permits joinder of multiple
defendants in one action only if “any right to relief
is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the
alternative with respect to or arising out of the same
transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions and
occurrences, and any question of law or fact common to all
defendants will arise in the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
20(a)(2). “What will constitute the same transaction or
occurrence under the first prong of Rule 20(a) is approached
on a case by case basis.” Kehr ex rel. Kehr v.
Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A., 596 F.Supp.2d 821, 826
(S.D.N.Y. 20080 (citation omitted). As the Second Circuit has
observed in the Rule 13 context,  whether a counterclaim
arises out of the same transaction as the original claim
depends upon the logical relationship between the claims and
whether the “essential facts of the various claims are
so logically connected that considerations of judicial
economy and fairness dictate that all the issues be resolved
in one lawsuit.” Harris v. Steinem, 571 F.2d
119, 123 (2d Cir. 1978).
includes at least sixteen different claims in his Amended
Complaint although there are likely more: an Eighth Amendment
claim for deliberate indifference to medical needs; an Eighth
Amendment claim for unconstitutional conditions of
confinement in the SRG Program; several First Amendment
retaliation claims stemming from different incidents
involving different defendants; an Eighth Amendment claim for
denial of telephone access; multiple Fourteenth Amendment
claims for false disciplinary reports arising from different
incidents and involving different defendants; a First
Amendment retaliation claim and an Eighth Amendment claim for
threats against him because he reported sexual harassment; a
claim of sexual harassment; theft of personal property; a
First Amendment claims for denial of access to his legal
materials and denial of legal mail; a Fourteenth Amendment
claim for improper classification to the SRG Program; First
Amendment claims regarding the free exercise of his religion;
violation of his rights under the ADA; violation of his
rights under RLUIPA; violation of the PREA; violation of his
rights under HIPAA; lack of legal assistance from
Inmates' Legal Aid Program; and the creation of a false
transcript by a Judicial Branch court reporter.
claims arise from different occurrences, on different dates,
spanning many years. Many of the named defendants are not
alleged to have had any involvement in many of the claims.
For example, the court reporter who allegedly created a false
transcript had nothing to do with Velasco's conditions of
confinement. The nurse treating Velasco during his hunger
strike had nothing to do with the multiple disciplinary
tickets which form the basis of some of his other claims. As
there are no questions of law or fact common to all claims,
the claims are improperly joined in this action in violation
of Rule 20.See Wilson v. ...