United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
R. UNDERHILL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Flores, currently confined at Garner Correctional Institution
in Newtown, Connecticut and proceeding pro se, filed
the instant action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983,
1985(3), 1986, and 1988 against Commissioner Roland Cook,
Warden Hannah, Captain Hurdle, and Correctional Officer John
Doe (collectively, “Defendants”). Compl., Doc.
No. 1, at ¶¶ 1-12. In his complaint, which was
received by the court on August 2, 2019, Flores asserts
claims for (i) deliberate indifference to his serious medical
needs under the Eighth Amendment; (ii) violations of 42
U.S.C. §§ 1985(3), 1986, and 1988; (iii)
intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (iv)
negligence. Id. at ¶¶ 1, 8, 34-45, 46-51.
Flores seeks compensatory and punitive damages, declaratory
relief, and attorneys' fees. Id. at ¶¶
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I 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. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). 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. See Bell Atlantic v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). In addition, the
plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face, ”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, and conclusory allegations
will not suffice, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). Nevertheless, it is well-established that
“[p]ro se complaints ‘must be
construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest
arguments that they suggest.'” Sykes v. Bank of
Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting
Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471,
474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater,
623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules
of solicitude afforded to pro se litigants).
was first diagnosed with epilepsy over twenty years ago.
Compl., Doc. No. 1, at ¶ 21. Because of that diagnosis,
the medical department at Garner Correctional Institution
(“Garner”) issued Flores a bottom bunk pass.
Id. Flores' condition, along with his prescribed
medications, is well-documented in his medical records.
Id. at ¶ 22.
February 1, 2019, Officer Doe instructed Flores to re-locate
to cell number 119 in the Gulf Unit and directed Flores to
sleep on the top bunk. Id. at ¶ 23. Flores told
Officer Doe that Flores could not take the top bunk because
he suffered from a medical condition, which precluded him
from sleeping on the top bunk. Id. at ¶ 23.
Flores also informed Officer Doe that he had a bottom bunk
pass. Id. at ¶ 24. Officer Doe responded that
“he didn't care, ” and told Flores to address
his problem with the unit manager, Captain Hurdle.
Id. at ¶ 24.
few days of sleeping on the top bunk - an experience that
“petrified” Flores - Flores spoke with Captain
Hurdle about his “medical concerns” with sleeping
on the top bunk. Id. at ¶ 25. Captain Hurdle
nonetheless refused to move Flores to another cell; instead,
Captain Hurdle told Flores to “stop crying” and
“deal with it.” Id. at ¶ 26.
Captain Hurdle also told Flores that Flores was welcome to
transfer to segregation, where several beds were available -
an offer which Flores declined. Id. at ¶ 27.
Flores then submitted several Inmate Request Forms to the
medical unit, as well as the Deputy Warden of Operations,
which explained Flores' concern with sleeping on the top
bunk. Id. at ¶ 28. Flores did not receive a
days later, on February 8, 2019, Flores suffered a seizure
while sleeping on the top bunk. Id. at ¶ 19. He
fell to the floor, sustaining “serious” injuries
to his neck, lower back, arm, leg, ankle, foot, and head.
Id. A “code white, ” or medical emergency,
was called, to which several officers and medical staff
members responded. Flores was then brought to the medical
unit, where he remained for several hours. Id. at
¶¶ 30, 31. Once he returned to the housing unit,
the medical staff “made sure that the officers in the
unit put [Flores] on the bottom bunk.” Id. at
Deliberate Indifference to a Serious Medical Need
alleges that Hurdle and Doe, by assigning Flores to a top
bunk when he needed a bottom bunk because of his epilepsy,
were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need.
Id. at ¶¶ 37, 38. Deliberate indifference
to serious medical needs exists when an official “knows
that [an] inmate faces a substantial risk of serious harm
and disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable
measures to abate it.” Harrison v. Barkley,
219 F.3d 132, 137-38 (2d Cir. 1998) (citing Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847 (1994)).
deliberate indifference standard “embodies both an
objective and a subjective prong.”
Hathaway v. Coughlin, 37 F.3d 63, 66 (2d Cir. 1994).
Objectively, the alleged deprivation must be
“sufficiently serious, ” meaning that the
condition must be “one that may produce death,
degeneration, or extreme pain.” See Hathaway v.
Coughlin, 99 F.3d 550, 553 (2d Cir. 1996) (internal
quotation marks omitted). Subjectively, the defendants must
have been “actually aware of a substantial risk”
that the plaintiff would suffer serious harm as a result of
their conduct. See Salahuddin v. Goord, 467 F.3d
263, 280-81 (2d Cir. 2006). Further, when the defendants are
custody staff, the plaintiff must allege that the officers
“both kn[e]w of and disregard[ed] ‘an excessive
risk to the inmate's ‘health or safety.'”
Young v. Choinski, 15 F.Supp.3d 194, 199 (D. Conn.
2014) (citing Phelps v. Kapnolas, 308 F.3d 180, 186
(2d Cir. 2002)). “Such knowledge may be inferred from
circumstantial evidence.” Id. (citing
Phelps, 308 F.3d at 186) (internal quotation marks
with respect to the objective prong, Flores suffers from
epilepsy, a medical condition that courts have recognized as
sufficiently serious. See Boomer v. Lanigan, 2001 WL
1646725, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 17, 2001) (noting that
“[e]pilepsy, or an epileptic seizure, is a serious
condition”) (internal citation omitted). With respect
to the subjective prong, Flores' complaint indicates that
Flores raised his medical concerns about sleeping on the top
bunk with both Hurdle and Doe. See Id. at
¶¶ 23, 25. The complaint further asserts that
Flores had a valid bottom bunk pass because of his epilepsy.
Id. at ¶ 24. Hurdle and Doe nonetheless
declined to re-assign Flores to a bottom bunk, leaving Flores
with the top bunk. Id. at ¶¶ 24, 26. Those
allegations are sufficient for me to infer that both Hurdle
and Doe understood the risk that their actions posed to
foregoing reasons, I conclude that Flores has stated a
plausible claim for deliberate indifference to a serious
medical need against Hurdle and Doe, and will therefore
permit his claim to proceed at this time.
also names Commissioner Cook and Warden Hannah as defendants,
whom he describes as parties responsible for the
“overall operation” of the Connecticut Department
of Corrections and of Garner, respectively. See id.
at ¶¶ 9, ...