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Holness v. Savoie

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 9, 2019

SAVOIE et al., Defendants.


          Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Junior Jumpp Holness is a prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”). He has filed a complaint pro se and in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. After an initial review, I conclude that the complaint should be served on some of the named defendants as set forth in the ruling below.


         Holness names eight defendants in his complaint: correctional officers Savoie, Gilman, and Paul Roy; warden Anthony Corcella; deputy warden Ronald Cotta; correctional counselor Oleary; counselor supervisor Doran; and lieutenant Dumas. The following facts are accepted as true only for purposes of this ruling.[1]

         On May 3, 2019, Savoie made sexual comments to Holness, who filed a grievance in response. Doc. #1 at 4 (¶ 1). Rather than investigate the incident, intelligence officers Doran and Roy began to harass Holness and to issue him false disciplinary reports. Ibid. (¶ 2).

         As of June 12, 2019, Savoie was still working in Holness's housing unit. Ibid. (¶ 3). That afternoon, Savoie and Gilman arrived at an interview room to escort Holness back to his cell when, instead of removing the chain attaching his handcuff to the desk and wall, Savoie grabbed his penis “hard” while Gilman watched smiling. Id. at 4-5 (¶ 4). When Holness yelled, Gilman came over the desk and held down Holness's shoulder while Savoie quickly removed the handcuff. Ibid. In the hallway, Holness “tr[ied]” to report the incident to a lieutenant, but Savoie interrupted, chokingly grabbed him by the collar, and took him to his cell. Id. at 5 (¶ 5). Once there, Savoie punched and “assaulted” him “in his leg [sic].” Ibid.

         The next day at 1:30 AM, Holness reported the incident to the Prison Rape Elimination Act hotline. Doc. #1 at 5 (¶ 6). The state police interviewed Holness about the aforementioned incidents a short time later. Ibid. (¶ 7). Later that morning, while touring Holness's housing unit, Savoie threatened to kill Holness and made comments about sexual favors. Id. at 5-6 (¶ 8).

         Then, while Savoie and Dumas were touring together, Holness told Dumas that he feared for his safety around Savoie and asked for his inhaler because he was having difficulty breathing. Ibid. Savoie told him “you don[']t get shit[, ] scumbag” and “you can die[, ] you piece of shit”; neither officer permitted Holness to call the medical unit for his inhaler. Ibid.

         On June 20, 2019, while touring, Savoie told Holness he was going to “(F)” him. Id. at 6 (¶ 9). Holness subsequently found a hair and a white substance in his food. Ibid. He reported this to Oleary, but she said that there was nothing she could do because she is just the unit counselor, not a custody officer. Ibid. Later that day, Holness made a second complaint to the state police. Ibid. (¶ 10).

         Holness had repeatedly complained to warden Corcella and deputy warden Cotta about these incidents, but neither did anything to protect him from Savoie. Id. at 7 (¶ 12). Oleary also had knowledge of the incidents but failed to take action, as well as denied Holness access to the courts. Ibid. (¶ 11). In addition, Dumas as the unit manager, ibid. (¶ 13), and Doran and Roy as intelligence officers, id. at 8 (¶ 14), knew of the incidents and did nothing to protect Holness.

         As a result of Savoie grabbing Holness's groin, Holness's testicle sometimes shifts out of place and causes him pain. Id. at 8 (¶ 14). Holness has sought physical and mental health treatment for his injuries. Ibid. He seeks money damages from the defendants in their individual capacities, as well as injunctive relief in the form of changes to DOC policy to protect him and others from sexual abuse. Ibid.; see also Id. at 1.


         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a prisoner's civil complaint against a governmental entity or governmental actors and “identify cognizable claims or dismiss the compliant, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” If the prisoner is proceeding pro se, the allegations of the complaint must be read liberally to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest. See Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010).

         The Supreme Court has set forth a threshold “plausibility” pleading standard for courts to evaluate the adequacy of allegations in federal court complaints. A complaint must allege enough facts-as distinct from legal conclusions-that give rise to plausible grounds for relief. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Notwithstanding the rule of liberal interpretation of a pro se complaint, a complaint may not survive dismissal if its ...

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