United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY
JEFFREY ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Brandon Scozzari filed this lawsuit pro se and
in forma pauperis against several Department of
Correction (“DOC”) officials, claiming that they
violated his constitutional rights while he was confined as a
pretrial detainee. Scozzari principally alleges that he was
subjected to administrative segregation and placed in the
DOC's Security Risk Group (“SRG”) program-a
program that allows for detainees who are suspected of
certain gang affiliations to be placed in more restrictive
conditions of confinement-in violation of the Fourteenth
Amendment. He now seeks preliminary injunctive relief
in connection with his claims, seeking an order removing him
from the SRG program and restoring him to general population.
Doc. #20 at 1. For the reasons set forth below, I will deny
Scozzari's motion for preliminary injunctive relief.
following facts are derived from Scozzari's allegations
in his complaint, as well as the parties' new submissions
related to the instant motion. Docs. #1, #39 (Declaration of
Scozzari), #28-1 (Affidavit of SRG Coordinator Captain
Papoosha). I further incorporate all facts relevant
to this motion from my initial review order. Doc. #7.
October of 2018, while Scozzari was confined as a pretrial
detainee in the New Haven Correctional Center
(“NHCC”), he was questioned by Lieutenants Paine
and Russell about posts on his Facebook page indicating that
he was a member of the “Piru Blood” gang. Docs.
#1 at 5-6 (¶¶ 1-10); #39 at 1 (¶ 3). Scozzari
denied any affiliation. Doc. #1 at 6 (¶ 6). Shortly
thereafter, Paine came and took Scozzari to the restrictive
housing unit. Id. at 9 (¶¶ 21-22). When
Scozzari arrived at the restrictive housing unit at NHCC, he
did not receive notice of the charges against him from Paine
or from Investigator Acevedo, and he also was deprived of an
opportunity to present his views “orally or in
writing.” Id. at 10 (¶¶ 24-25).
Scozzari emphasizes that this segregation was not the result
of committing any infractions or for disciplinary issues.
Doc. #39 at 2 (¶ 4).
October 31, 2018, while still at NHCC, Scozzari received an
SRG member hearing notification, which informed him that he
would have a hearing due to his possible affiliation with the
Bloods, pointing to Scozzari's Facebook page,
id. at 2 (¶ 5), and advised him that he was
afforded an opportunity to have an advocate and witnesses at
his hearing, an opportunity he declined, Doc. #28-1 at 3-4
SRG hearing, Scozzari acknowledged that the Facebook page was
his. Doc. #39 at 2 (¶ 7); see also Doc. #28-1
at 4 (¶ 15). He said that he posted “what are
lyrics to a song in memory of a friend who passed
away.” Doc. #39 at 2 (¶ 7). Scozzari denied
posting a picture containing known gang hand symbols.
Ibid. But defendants submit that the Facebook page
stated, “1700 block 1700 shots IMG MOB PIRU, ”
and it contained a photograph of Scozzari displaying a
well-known Blood hand sign. Doc. #28-1 at 3 (¶
Scozzari again stresses that the SRG hearing was not the
result of disciplinary reports. Doc. #39 at 2 (¶¶
the SRG hearing, Scozzari received a Notification of Decision
that he was designated as an SRG member Phase 3. Docs. #39 at
3 (¶ 10); #28-1 at 4 (¶ 16). Scozzari was then
transferred to the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center
(“Corrigan”), where he entered into the SRG
program in Phase 3. Docs. #39 at 3-4 (¶ 12); #28-1 at 4
commenced this lawsuit in February 2019, claiming, inter
alia, he was unconstitutionally placed in administrative
segregation at NHCC and the SRG program at Corrigan. Doc. #1.
Scozzari further claims he was kept under unconstitutional
conditions of confinement at Corrigan. He seeks damages, as
well as declaratory and injunctive relief. Id. at 27
April 2019, Scozzari was sentenced. See State v.
Scozzari, No. N07M-CR18-0297876-S (Conn. Super. Ct.
April 3, 2019). Later that month, I permitted, inter
alia, Scozzari's claims for injunctive relief under
the Fourteenth Amendment against Aldi, Santiago, Faucher, and
Kelly in their official capacities to proceed. Doc. #7 at
my initial review order was issued, Scozzari received two
Class A discipline reports that were “un-related to
anything Security Risk Groups.” Doc. #39 at 4 (¶
15). Due to these infractions, Scozzari was regressed first
to the beginning of SRG Phase 3 in April, then to Phase 2 in
May. Doc. #28-1 at 4 (¶ 17). Scozzari was also
transferred to MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution
(“MWCI”). Doc. #9 (Notice of Change of Address).
2019, Scozzari received two more disciplinary reports, one of
which was unrelated to the SRG program. Docs. #39 at 4-5
(¶ 16); #28-1 at 4 (¶ 18). The other infraction
was SRG-related, based on the discovery that
Scozzari sent a letter discussing Blood hierarchy and
instructing that it be forwarded to a known Blood member.
Doc. #28-1 at 4 (¶ 18). Scozzari also placed a phone
call to this known Blood member and discussed the hierarchy
of the Blood sect and associated information. Ibid.
After both of these infractions, Scozzari's SRG status
was reviewed, and he was further regressed to Phase 1.
Ibid. (¶ 19). In July 2019, Scozzari was
transferred to Northern Correctional Institution
(“Northern”), where he is currently housed. Doc.
#39 at 4-5 (¶16); see also Doc. #17 (Notice of
Change of Address).
August 2019, Scozzari filed this motion for a preliminary
injunction. Doc. #20. He seeks preliminary injunctive relief
in connection with his Fourteenth Amendment claims, asking
for a court order removing him from the SRG program and
reinstating him in general population.
district court has wide discretion in determining whether to
grant preliminary injunctive relief. See Moore v.
Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, Inc., 409 F.3d 506,
511 (2d Cir. 2005) (Sotomayor, J.). The requirements for the
issuance of a preliminary injunction are well established. To
obtain a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must establish
“(a) irreparable harm and (b) either (1) likelihood of
success on the merits or (2) sufficiently serious questions
going to the merits to make them a fair ground for litigation
and a balance of hardships tipping decidedly toward the party