United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY
Vanessa L. Bryant United States District Judge
plaintiff, Shemayah Ben-Israel, commenced this civil rights
action asserting claims for use of excessive force and
deliberate indifference to safety. The remaining claim is for
use of excessive force against Lieutenant Diaz. The parties
have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. For the
following reasons, plaintiff’s motion is denied and
Diaz’s motion is granted.
Standard of Review
motion for summary judgment may be granted only where there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56(a),
Fed. R. Civ. P.; see also Nick’s Garage, Inc. v.
Progressive Cas. Ins. Co., 875 F.3d 107, 113-14 (2d Cir.
2017). “A genuine issue of material fact exists if
‘the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.’”
Nick’s Garage, 875 F.3d at 113-14 (quoting
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986)). Which facts are material is determined by the
substantive law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
“The same standard applies whether summary judgment is
granted on the merits or on an affirmative defense
….” Giordano v. Market Am., Inc., 599
F.3d 87, 93 (2d Cir. 2010).
moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court
of the basis for its motion and identifying the admissible
evidence it believes demonstrates the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party meets this
burden, the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Wright
v. Goord, 554 F.3d 255, 266 (2d Cir. 2009). He cannot
“‘rely on conclusory allegations or
unsubstantiated speculation’ but ‘must come
forward with specific evidence demonstrating the existence of
a genuine dispute of material fact.’”
Robinson v. Concentra Health Servs., 781 F.3d 42, 34
(2d Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). To defeat a motion for
summary judgment, the nonmoving party must present such
evidence as would allow a jury to find in his favor.
Graham v. Long Island R.R., 230 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir.
the court is required to read a self-represented
“party’s papers liberally and interpret them to
raise the strongest arguments that they suggest, ”
Willey v. Kirkpatrick, 801 F.3d 51, 62 (2d Cir.
2015), “unsupported allegations do not create a
material issue of fact” and do not overcome a properly
supported motion for summary judgment. Weinstock v.
Columbia Univ., 224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000).
was confined at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution
(“MacDougall”) in early August 2016, at the time
of the incident underlying this action. Def.’s Local
Rule 56(a)1 Statement, Doc. #27-5 ¶ 2. In August 2016,
Lieutenant Diaz was assigned to MacDougall as the 89 east
sector supervisor. Id. ¶¶ 3-4. She was
responsible for overseeing housing units N, O, P, Q, and R.
Id. ¶ 4.
August 1, 2016, the unit manager of the N housing unit told
Lieutenant Diaz that two inmates needed to be escorted to the
restrictive housing unit (“RHU”) because of
safety and security concerns. Id. ¶ 5.
Lieutenant Diaz oversaw the escorts. The first inmate was
placed in RHU cell 19 without incident. Id. ¶
Diaz was temporarily relieved of duty during both escorts
while the inmates were being strip-searched before placement
in an RHU cell as departmental directives prohibit
cross-gender strip searched absent extenuating circumstances.
Id. ¶ 7.
only cell available for the second inmate was RHU cell 3, the
cell in which plaintiff was confined without a cellmate.
Id. ¶ 8. The two inmates did not have an active
separation profile and neither was classified as a Security
Risk Group member. Thus, there was no reason for Lieutenant
Diaz to believe that housing the two inmates together would
pose a security risk for either inmate. Id. ¶
9. Plaintiff admitted at his deposition that he did not know
the other inmate and had no knowledge suggesting that the
inmate posed a danger to him. Id. ¶ 10. The
plaintiff has never been assaulted by another inmate while
confined in a Connecticut correctional facility. Id.
refused to accept a cellmate. Id. ¶ 12.
Plaintiff did not tell staff that he had safety concerns
about being housed with this inmate. Id. ¶ 13.
Instead, he based his refusal on a threatening note he had
received from an SRG member a week earlier. Pl.’s
Decl., Doc. #22-1 at 2 ¶ 2. Lieutenant Wiggins told
plaintiff that he would be placed on in-cell restraints if he
refused a cellmate. Doc. #27-5 ¶ 14. Lieutenant Diaz
agreed with this decision. Id. ¶ 15. Plaintiff
continued to refuse a cellmate and was placed on in-cell
restraints. Lieutenant Diaz oversaw the placement.
Id. ¶ 16.
of Correction Administrative Directive 6.5 permits the use of
in-cell restraints to ensure compliance with an order and to
maintain order, safety, and security in the correctional
facility. Id. ¶¶ 17, 20. The primary
reason for plaintiff’s placement on in-cell restraints
was that he was being acutely disruptive and interfered with
order, safety, and security by disrupting the operation of
the RHU. Id. ¶ 18.
time, the addition of the two inmates made the RHU full.
Id. ¶ 19. Because plaintiff refused to accept a
cellmate, staff had to move him to RHU cell 9, a cell that is
intended for use only by mental health patients on mental
health or behavioral observation. The cell is supposed to
remain empty if not used for this purpose. If a mental health
inmate had been sent to RHU, another inmate would have to be
released from RHU to accommodate the mental health inmate. As
the RHU is intended to house inmates whose continued presence
in general population poses a ...