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Jackson v. Moochie

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 3, 2019

KENNIN JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECTION OFFICER MOOCHIE, et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER AND RULING ON MOTION

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Kennin Jackson (“Plaintiff”), pro se and currently incarcerated at the Northern Correctional Institution (“Northern”) in Somers, Connecticut, has filed a Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against twelve Department of Correction (“DOC”) officials in their individual and official capacities: Correctional Officers Moochie, Wells, Sanchez, Piscottano, Pagan, Sandone, Mills, and Moses, Correctional Counselor Blue, Deputy Warden Bradway, Captain Cavanaugh, and Warden Mudano (collectively, the “Defendants”). Compl., ECF No. 1 (July 5, 2019).

         Mr. Jackson seeks monetary, injunctive, and declaratory relief against these defendants for violating his rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. See Id. at ¶¶ 31-39. On August 15, 2019, Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel granted Mr. Conley's motion to proceed in forma pauperis. See Order, ECF No. 12 (Aug. 15, 2019).

         Mr. Jackson has also moved for the Court to issue a temporary restraining order and an order to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not issue against Defendants. Mot. for Order to Show Cause, ECF No. 13 (Nov. 21, 2019).

         For the following reasons, the Complaint is DISMISSED in part, and the motion for a temporary restraining order and an order to show cause is DENIED.

         I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

         On May 18, 2019, Officers Sandone, Mills, and Moochie[1] allegedly told Mr. Jackson that he was a pedophile and a rapist. Compl. ¶ 17. Officers Sandone and Moochie allegedly said that they were going to “set [him] up [and] keep him in jail by lying on official documents.” Id. Officer Mills thereafter allegedly “lied on an official document.”[2] Id. Officer Sandone also allegedly “falsified official documents.” Id. at ¶ 18.

         On June 27, 2019, Officer Moochie allegedly was serving dinner on the lower level of the 2-West housing unit and tampered with Mr. Jackson's meal tray by removing his chicken patty. Compl. ¶ 19. Officer Wells, who was also allegedly present, allegedly called Mr. Jackson “a fucking rapist bitch” and told him, “That's what you fucking get!” Id. Officer Pagan also allegedly called Mr. Jackson a rapist. Id. at ¶ 28. Mr. Jackson allegedly wrote to Warden Mudano, Deputy Warden Bradway, and Captain Cavanaugh about threats Officer Moochie was making against him, but “nothing was done about it.” Id. at ¶ 20. Mr. Jackson alleges that he was never accused or convicted of rape or sexual assault in any jurisdiction. Id. at ¶ 28.

         On July 1, 2019, Officer Moses allegedly “falsified an official document [under] the influence” of Officer Moochie, Warden Mudano, and Captain Cavanaugh. Compl. ¶ 22. Two days later, Officer Wells allegedly “retaliate[d]” against Mr. Jackson by refusing to collect the trash from his cell and calling him a rapist. Id. at ¶¶ 23-24. Officer Wells allegedly said to Mr. Jackson, “Fuck you! Live in your nasty rapist cell where you belong!” Id. at ¶ 24. Later, Officer Moochie allegedly “falsified an official document.” Id. That same day, Counselor Blue allegedly called Mr. Jackson a rapist and said, “[Y]ou'r[e] going to get your request when I feel like giving it to you.” Id. at ¶ 27.

         On July 4, 2019, Officer Sanchez allegedly came to Mr. Jackson's cell to permit him to shower. Compl. ¶ 25. When Mr. Jackson left his cell to go to the shower, Officer Moochie allegedly told Officer Sanchez that he was a rapist and instructed him to “fuck his cell up!” Id. Officer Sanchez allegedly hen entered Mr. Jackson's cell and “trashed it” by throwing his personal property all over the floor. Id. Officer Sanchez also allegedly called Mr. Jackson a rapist and “falsified an official document.” Id. at ¶¶ 25-26. Later, Officer Piscottano allegedly gave Mr. Jackson a disciplinary ticket and said, “[H]ere you go you fucking rapist.” Id. at ¶ 26.

         As a result of the Defendants' alleged behavior towards him, Mr. Jackson allegedly fears for his safety and well-being at Northern. Compl. ¶ 30.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. 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).

         A plaintiff therefor must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. 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 for pro se litigants).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Mr. Jackson is suing the defendants in their individual and official capacities under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments for retaliating against him for complaining about staff behavior to Warden Mudano, Deputy Warden Bradway, and Captain Cavanaugh; “falsifying official documents;” “trash[ing]” his cell on July 4, 2019; “defam[ing] [his] character;” and subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment. See Compl. ¶¶ 36-39.

         The Court will permit an Eighth Amendment claim to proceed against Defendant Officers Moochie and Wells in their individual capacities but dismiss all other claims.

         A. The First Amendment Retaliation Claim

         Mr. Jackson is suing Defendant Officers Moses, Moochie, Pagan, Piscottano, Mills, Wells, Sanchez, and Sandone; and Counselor Blue; “for violation of 1st [Amendment] Defamation of Character.” Compl. ¶ 39. Throughout his Complaint, however, Mr. Jackson alleges that several of the defendants “retaliate[d]” against him after he complained to Mudano, Cavanaugh, and Bradway that Moochie had been threatening him. See Id. at ¶¶ 20-21. Thus, the Court construes Mr. Jackson's First Amendment claim as one of retaliation for exercising free speech. See Sykes, 723 F.3d at 403 (“Pro se complaints must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.” (internal alterations, citations, and quotation marks omitted)).

         “Prison officials may not retaliate against inmates for exercising their constitutional rights.” Riddick v. Arnone, No. 3:11-cv-631 (SRU), 2012 WL 2716355, at *6 (D. Conn. July 9, 2012). “To prevail on a First Amendment retaliation claim, an inmate must establish (1) that the speech or conduct at issue was protected, (2) that the defendant took adverse action against [him], and (3) that there was a causal connection between the protected [conduct] and the adverse action.” Holland v. Goord, 758 F.3d 215, 225-226 (2d Cir. 2014) (affirming a district court judgment finding that prison officials did not retaliate against the plaintiff when they disciplined him for declining to provide a urine sample based on his religious observance) (internal quotation marks omitted); Espinal v. Goord, 558 F.3d 119, 129 (2d Cir. 2009) (finding that “the passage of only six months between the dismissal of Espinal's lawsuit and an allegedly retaliatory beating by officers, one of whom . . . was a defendant in the prior lawsuit, is sufficient to support an inference of a causal connection”).

         “In the prison context, ‘adverse action' is objectively defined as conduct ‘that would deter a similarly situated individual of ordinary firmness from exercising . . . constitutional rights.'” O'Diah v. Cully, No. 08-CIV-941 (TJM/CFH), 2013 WL 1914434, at *9 (N.D.N.Y. May 8, 2013) (quoting Davis v. Goord, 320 F.3d 346, 353 (2d Cir. 2003)); see also Ramsey v. Goord, 661 F.Supp.2d 370, 399 (W.D.N.Y. 2009) (prisoners may be required to tolerate more than average citizens before alleged retaliatory action against them is considered adverse). In order to allege causation, the inmate must state facts “suggesting that the protected conduct was a substantial or motivating factor in ...


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