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Llewellyn v. Aldi

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 29, 2019

KEVIN VICTOR LLEWELLYN, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN ALDI, et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          Kari A. Dooley United States District Judge

         Preliminary Statement

         Plaintiff, Kevin Victor Llewellyn (“Llewellyn”), currently confined at Carl Robinson Correctional Institution in Enfield, Connecticut, filed this complaint pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Llewellyn names twelve defendants: John Aldi; Peter Murphy; Angel Quiros; Lieutenants Richardson, Papoosha, and King; Captains Black and Walsh; and John Does 1-4. He alleges that the defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights by providing inadequate notice and an untimely hearing, failing to follow hearing procedures, punishing him for uncharged conduct, and upholding an unlawful disciplinary proceeding; his First Amendment rights by retaliating against him for using the prison grievance procedures; and his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to protect him from an inmate assault and subjecting him to sexual abuse. Llewellyn seeks damages and injunctive relief. The complaint was received on June 28, 2019, and Llewellyn's motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on July 2, 2019.

         Standard of Review

          Under 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

         Between June 28, 2016 and July 7, 2016, Llewellyn was a pretrial detainee. Doc. No. 1, ¶ 11. On June 28, 2016, Llewellyn was removed from general population and placed in a restrictive housing unit (“RHU”). Id., ¶ 1. He was placed on Administrative Detention pending a disciplinary hearing on charges of threats and Security Risk Group (“SRG”) affiliation. Id., ¶¶ 1-2. On June 29, 2016, Llewellyn plead guilty to the charge of threats and received sanctions of seven days in punitive segregation. Id., ¶ 3.

         Llewellyn completed his segregation time on July 4, 2016. He did not receive a hearing for SRG affiliation and was not returned to general population. Id., ¶ 4. Sometime later, Disciplinary Investigator Doe 1 asked Llewellyn if he wanted an advocate. Although Llewellyn said he did, he was not permitted to choose his advocate or request witnesses. Id., ¶ 5.

         On July 11, 2016, Llewellyn met with Doe 2, the advocate selected for him. When Llewellyn asked to see the evidence against him, Doe 2 stated that he was not at liberty to show him the evidence. Id., ¶ 6. Doe 2 asked Llewellyn to write a statement for the hearing. Llewellyn stated that he could not do so without knowing the reason for the charge. Id., ¶ 7. Doe 2 told Llewellyn that he had gang-related pictures on social media. Id., ¶ 8. Llewellyn then wrote a statement saying that he had no gang-related pictures on Facebook or Instagram, the only social media accounts he had. Id., ¶ 9. Doe 2 refused to interview witnesses for Llewellyn. Id., ¶ 10.

         Llewellyn's SRG hearing was held on July 12, 2016. Id., ¶ 12. Before Llewellyn could say anything, Hearing Officer Lieutenant King stated that she had reviewed the evidence before the hearing and was finding him guilty based on that evidence. Id., ¶¶ 13-14. Lieutenant King refused to show Llewellyn the evidence, claiming she did not want him to tell other gang members “how we do our jobs.” Id., ¶ 15.

         Llewellyn wrote to defendants Aldi and Papoosha about these due process violations but received no response. Id., ¶ 18. District Administrator Murphy denied Llewellyn's appeal, stating that no due process violation occurred. Id., ¶ 19. He also stated that Llewellyn had admitted owning the social media account. Llewellyn claims this was not possible as he never saw any evidence to be able to acknowledge ownership. Id., ¶ 20. He denies any SRG-related conduct. Id., ¶ 21.

         On September 19, 2016, Llewellyn again received a disciplinary report for SRG affiliation. Id., ¶ 22. His hearing was held on September 29, 2016, eight business days later. Id., ¶ 23. At the hearing, Llewellyn complained to Hearing Officer Lieutenant Richardson that the hearing was one day late. Id., ¶ 24. When Lieutenant Richardson stated that he could continue the hearing for two ten-day periods, Llewellyn stated that any continuance had to be documented and requested to see the documentation. Id., ¶¶ 25-26. Lieutenant Richardson documented the continuance at the hearing, rather than before. Id., ¶ 28.

         Llewellyn was found guilty on September 29, 2016. Id., ¶ 30. Although the disciplinary process summary report indicates a continuance until October 13, 2016, no other hearing was held. Id., ¶¶ 31-32. Llewellyn complained to Disciplinary Coordinator Doe 3 who told Llewellyn to appeal if he thought his due process rights were violated. Id., ¶ 33. Llewellyn filed an appeal on October 9, 2016. Id., ¶ 34. District Administrator Quiros denied Llewellyn's appeal, stating the hearing was conducted correctly and there was no due process failure. Id., ¶ 35.

         On October 14, 2016, Unit Manager Captain Black placed Llewellyn in a cell with inmate Gabriel Vega. Id., ¶ 37. The following day, inmate Vega assaulted Llewellyn. Because Llewellyn defended himself, both inmates received disciplinary reports for fighting. Id., ¶ 38. Shortly after October 15, 2016, Llewellyn learned that inmate Vega was not permitted in the recreation yard with other inmates because he was considered “a danger.” Id., ¶ 42. Llewellyn was placed in the cell with inmate Vega five days after he appealed his SRG ticket and after making constant requests to Captain Black to be released from the SRG Program. Id., ¶ 43. He believes the placement was retaliatory. Id., ¶ 44.

         Sometime before January 25, 2018, Llewellyn signed renunciation papers to complete the SRG Program. Id., ¶ 45. He was supposed to be released on January 25, 2018. Id., ¶ 46. On February 6, 2018, Llewellyn asked Captain Walsh why he was still in the SRG Program. Id., ¶ 47. Captain Walsh said that John Aldi told her that Llewellyn could not leave the program. Id., ¶ 48.

         Aldi said that Llewellyn should have received a disciplinary report for SRG affiliation in August 2017 but did not. He was requiring Llewellyn to serve the additional two months in the program that he would have been required to serve if the disciplinary report had been issued. Id., ¶ 49. Captain Walsh told Llewellyn that he still could receive a disciplinary report. She advised him to serve the two months and “let it go.” Id., ¶ 50. On February 13, 2018, at Llewellyn's request, Captain Walsh confirmed in writing what she had told Llewellyn on February 6, 2018. Id., ¶¶ 51-52. Llewellyn interpreted Captain Walsh's statement that he still could receive a disciplinary report as a threat to deter him from grieving the issue. Id., ¶ 53.

         Llewellyn served the additional two months in the program and was scheduled for release on March 25, 2018. Id., ¶ 54. In March, Counselor Fiore told Llewellyn that he would not leave the program until April. Id., ¶ 56. Counselor Fiore told Llewellyn that Aldi refused to let him leave because, if he had received a disciplinary report in August 2017, he would have re-started Phase 4 of the SRG Program. Id., ¶ 57. Because Captain Salius had not regressed Llewellyn to re-start Phase 4, Aldi was making Llewellyn serve the additional month he would have served had he re-started Phase 4. Id., ¶ 58. Llewellyn considers Aldi's actions to be taken in retaliation for filing grievances. Id., ¶ 60.

         While waiting to be released from the SRG Program, defendant Doe 4 touched Llewellyn sexually while conducting a pat search. Id., ¶ 62. Defendant Doe 4 had acted inappropriately before and Llewellyn had addressed the issue. Id., ¶ 63. Llewellyn reported the incident to the lieutenant on duty and filed a PREA complaint even though the lieutenant tried to dissuade him from doing so. Id., ¶ 64. Shortly thereafter, Llewellyn was transferred to Cheshire Correctional Institution. Id., ¶ 65.

         Discussion[1]

         Retaliation

         Llewellyn alleges that Captain Black retaliated against him for filing grievances when Captain Black assigned inmate Vega to Llewllyn's cell. Llewellyn alleges Captain Walsh and Aldi retaliated against him in violation of his First Amendment right to free speech by taking ...


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