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Brown v. Faucher

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 28, 2019

CHRISTOPHER BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN FAUCHER et al., Defendants.

          RULING ON MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

          Jeffrey Alker Meyer, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Christopher Brown is a prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”). He filed a complaint pro se and in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against certain DOC officials alleging that he was wrongly subjected to restrictive housing. Doc. #1. After conducting an initial review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I dismissed the complaint but permitted Brown an opportunity to file a motion for reconsideration with a proposed amended complaint. See Brown v. Faucher, 2019 WL 3231205 (D. Conn. 2019).

         Brown has now moved for reconsideration along with the filing of a proposed amended complaint. Doc. #13. For the reasons stated below, I will DENY the motion for reconsideration on the ground that the amended complaint does not allege facts that give rise to plausible grounds for relief.

         Background

         The following facts are alleged in the amended complaint and are accepted as true only for purposes of this ruling. Brown was confined at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center (“Corrigan”) at the time of the events alleged in the amended complaint. Doc. #13 at 6 (¶ 28). His amended complaint names the following defendants: Corrigan Correctional Center Warden Faucher, District Administrator Edward Maldonado, and Lieutenants Cronin and Conjer. Doc. #13 at 3 (¶¶ 2-6).

         The DOC has classified Brown as a “seriously mentally ill inmate.” Id. at 2 (¶ 7). He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. Ibid. (¶ 8). He also suffers from suicidal ideations. Ibid. (¶ 9).

         On August 17, 2017, at approximately 8:15 a.m., Counselor Crane, the grievance coordinator, entered Brown's housing unit to collect the grievances from the designated boxes. Doc. #13 at 6 (¶ 29). Crane found an anonymous inmate request form with the following written message: “I should just knock you out you dumb white hoe.” Id. at 20. Crane interpreted the message as threatening and reported it to the unit manager, Lieutenant Cronin. Ibid.

         Upon receiving the inmate request form, Cronin launched an investigation to determine who wrote the message and placed the form in the grievance box. Doc. #13 at 7 (¶ 30). After reviewing the video surveillance system, Cronin determined that another prisoner in Brown's unit, Armand Beiaj, had gone to Brown's cell, and Brown had passed him the form through the door crack. Id. (¶ 31); id. at 21. Afterward, Beiaj walked directly to the grievance box and dropped the form inside. Id. (¶ 35); id. at 21. The original inmate request and DVD with the surveillance footage were both stored as evidence in a facility safe. Id. (¶ 32); id. at 21.

         As a result of the investigation, Beiaj was issued a Class A disciplinary report for accessory to commit assault on a DOC employee and placed in a restrictive housing unit (“RHU”) on administrative detention status. Doc. #13 at 7 (¶ 33); id. at 21. Although he was not issued a disciplinary report for the threatening message, Brown was also placed in “segregation on administrative detention” pending the outcome of the investigation. Id. (¶¶ 33-34). Brown contends that the video surveillance footage does not show him passing anything to Beiaj. Id. at 8 (¶ 37). He believes that his placement in segregation was done in retaliation for the numerous lawsuits he has filed against Corrigan personnel. Id. (¶ 38).

         Brown was placed in “punitive solitary confinement” with nothing but his socks, boxers, and T-shirt. Doc. #13 at 3 (¶ 12). The cell did not have any windows, chairs, or clocks. Id. at 3 (¶ 12), 8 (¶ 39). He was forced to eat all his meals in his cell and was deprived of “all property, ” phone calls, and contact visits. Ibid. Brown was subjected to 23- to 24-hour lockdown and had to be escorted with handcuffs and chains every time he left his cell. Id. at 3 (¶ 12). He was also excluded from participating in any religious or work-related programs. Ibid. He was not given any mental health treatment, and the conditions caused a detriment to his pre-existing mental health problems. Id. at 8 (¶ 40).

         While housed in solitary confinement, Brown sought to preserve the camera footage and other evidence from the August 17 incident via inmate request form. Doc. #13 at 9 (¶ 41), 23. He also sought “proper Due Process by requesting that the proper chain of custody who[] authorized [his confinement] sign off on [his] placement.” Id. (¶ 42). Brown later learned that Cronin did not have the authority to place him in segregation because, pursuant to DOC regulations, such a decision may only come from a shift commander, the warden, the deputy warden, or the director of offender classification. Id. (¶¶ 48-49); id. at 26.

         On August 31, 2017, Brown filed a request to challenge Cronin's decision to place him in segregation. Id. (¶ 50); id. at 27. After confirming that it was Cronin who ordered the placement, Brown filed a grievance against him for placing him in segregation without a hearing or an explanation of the reasons for his placement. Id. at 10 (¶ 51); id. at 28. Brown also contended that Cronin did not have the authority to order his placement in segregation. Id. at 28.

         On September 27, 2017, the grievance was denied on the ground that Brown's placement in segregation on administrative detention status was authorized under DOC Administrative Directive 9.4, § 3(B)(2). Ibid. That provision defines “Administrative Detention” as “[p]lacement of an inmate in a [RHU] that results in segregation of the inmate . . . [f]or investigation of an allegation or information involving the inmate in the commission of a crime, or of activities jeopardizing the security of the facility or the safety of staff or inmates that could result in placement on punitive or administrative segregation or transfer to high security.” Ibid.

         Brown appealed the denial of the grievance to District Administrator Maldonado. Id. at 10 (ΒΆ 52), 29. But Maldonado denied the appeal, reasoning that Brown's administrative detention status was authorized ...


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