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Bohn v. Cook

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 21, 2019

JUSTIN BOHN, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER ROLLIN COOK, et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          MICHAEL P. SHEA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The plaintiff, Justin Bohn, is incarcerated at the Osborn Correctional Institution (“Osborn”) in Somers, Connecticut. He has filed a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Captain Perez, Counselor Supervisor Long, Director of Classification Karl Lewis, Classification Officer Miaga, Deputy Warden Orteo Negron, and Parole Members Carleton Giles, Michelle Roman, Carmen Sierra, Nancy Turner, and Pamela Richards. For the reasons set forth below, the court will dismiss the complaint in part.

         I. Standard of Review

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the court must review prisoner civil complaints against governmental actors and “dismiss ... any portion of [a] complaint [that] is frivolous, malicious, or 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. Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         Although detailed allegations are not required, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when a plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A complaint that includes only “‘labels and conclusions,' ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action' or ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement, '” does not meet the facial plausibility standard. Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557 (2007)). Although courts have an obligation to interpret “a pro se complaint liberally, ” the complaint must still include sufficient factual allegations to meet the standard of facial plausibility. See Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).

         II. Facts

         On February 18, 2011, Naugatuck police officers arrested the plaintiff on charges of unlawful restraint in the first degree and sexual assault in the first degree. See Compl. at 3 ¶ 13. These charges arose from two incidents involving the same victim that occurred on the same day, February 11, 2011, in Naugatuck, Connecticut. Id. Prior to trial, the State of Connecticut dropped the sexual assault charge against the plaintiff. Id. The plaintiff then pled guilty to one count of unlawful restraint in the first degree and a judge sentenced him to three years of imprisonment, execution suspended, and three years of probation.[1] Id.

         Naugatuck police officers also arrested the plaintiff on a charge of assault in the second degree arising from an incident that occurred on February 12, 2011 in Plainville, Connecticut. Id. The plaintiff pled guilty to the charge and a judge sentenced him to five years of imprisonment, execution suspended after three and one-half years, and followed by three years of probation.[2] Id. Department of Correction officials subsequently discharged the plaintiff from his term of imprisonment. Id. at 4 ¶ 14.

         On January 31, 2017, Ansonia police officers arrested the plaintiff on charges of kidnapping in the second degree, assault in the second degree, and failure to appear. Id. On August 29, 2018, a judge sentenced the plaintiff to twelve years of imprisonment, execution suspended after six years, and followed by five years of probation.[3] Id.

         When the plaintiff arrived at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution, a counselor informed him that classification officials had assigned him a sex offender treatment needs score of 3 based on information in the police report regarding his arrest in February 2011 for sexual assault in the first degree and unlawful restraint in the first degree. Id. ¶ 15. The plaintiff did not receive a hearing in connection with the decision to assign him a sex offender treatment needs score of 3. Id. The plaintiff wrote to Captain Perez about his score and the fact that the score had been assigned to him without a hearing. Id. ¶ 17. Captain Perez did not respond to the plaintiff's request. Id.

         On February 15, 2019, the plaintiff attended a Parole Board Jurisprudence Hearing. Id. ¶ 18. Parole Board Members Roman, Sierra, Richards, and Turner denied him release on parole based on information in the February 2011 police report regarding the circumstances that resulted in his arrest on the charge of sexual assault in the first degree and his arrest and conviction on the charge of unlawful restraint in the first degree as well as the fact that the Department of Correction had labeled him a sex offender. Id. at 4-5 ¶ 18.

         After the plaintiff's transfer to Osborn, he wrote to Counselor Long indicating that his sex offender treatment needs score was incorrect. Id. ¶ 21. Counselor Long did not schedule a classification hearing to address the plaintiff's score. Id. On February 26, 2019, the plaintiff filed a grievance. Id. ¶ 22. On March 25, 2019, a prison official denied the grievance. Id.

         The plaintiff contends that a sex offender treatment needs score of 3 is assigned to an inmate who has a current conviction or pending charge for a sexual offense or has a known history of sexual offenses. Id. ¶ 25. The plaintiff alleges that he is not currently confined for a conviction for a sexual offense and has no history of sexual offense convictions. Id.

         The plaintiff wrote to Director of Classification Lewis and Classification Officer Miaga in an attempt to resolve the issue regarding his sex offender treatment needs score and classification as a sex offender. Id. at 10 ¶ 42. Neither defendant responded to the plaintiff's letter. Id.

         III. Discussion

         The plaintiff contends that the defendants violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by assigning him a sex offender treatment needs score of 3 and falsely labeling him as a sex offender, tarnishing his reputation, denying him due process, and imposing an atypical and significant hardship on him. He seeks declaratory relief and compensatory and punitive damages.

         A. Eleventh Amendment

         The plaintiff sues the defendants in their individual and official capacities. Claims against state employees in their official capacities for monetary damages are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159 (1985); Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 342 (1979). Accordingly, to the extent that the plaintiff seeks punitive and compensatory damages from the defendants in their official capacities, the claims are dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(2).

         In his preliminary statement, the plaintiff asks the court to declare that the acts or omissions of the defendants were unconstitutional. Compl. ¶ 3. In the relief section of the complaint, the plaintiff states that the defendants have clearly violated his state and federal constitutional rights. Compl. at 10.

         Declaratory relief serves to “settle legal rights and remove uncertainty and insecurity from legal relationships without awaiting a violation of the rights or a disturbance of the relationships.” Colabella v. American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, No. 10-cv-2291(KAM)(ALC), 2011 WL 4532132, at *22 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 28, 2011) (citations omitted). Thus, it operates in a prospective manner to allow parties to resolve claims before either side suffers significant harm. See In re Combustion Equip. Assoc. Inc., 838 F.2d 35, 37 (2d Cir. 1988).

         In Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908), the Supreme Court held that an exception to the Eleventh Amendment's grant of sovereign immunity from suit existed to permit a plaintiff to sue a state official acting in his or her official capacity for prospective injunctive relief for continuing violations of federal law. Id. at 155-56. The exception to Eleventh Amendment immunity, however, “does not permit judgments against state officers declaring that they violated federal law in the past.” See P.R. Aqueduct & Sewer Auth. v. Metcalf & Eddy, 506 U.S. 139, 146 (1993) (emphasis ...


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