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Thompson v. Michaud

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 17, 2019

HARLIE THOMPSON, Plaintiff,
v.
LIEUTENANT MICHAUD et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

          Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Harlie Thompson is a prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”). He has filed a complaint pro se and in forma pauperis pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that he was subject to the use of excessive force and denied his constitutional rights in connection with a disciplinary investigation and hearing. On the basis of an initial review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915A, I conclude that Thompson has not alleged plausible grounds for relief against any of the four defendants he has named in his complaint. Accordingly, I will dismiss his complaint without prejudice to timely filing of an amended complaint.

         BACKGROUND

         The complaint names four defendants: Lieutenants Michaud and Ballaro of the Corrigan Correctional Institution (“Corrigan”), and Lieutenant Perez and Officer Leone of Northern Correctional Institution (“Northern”). The following facts as alleged in the complaint are assumed to be true solely for purposes of my initial evaluation of the complaint.

         On March 7, 2019, unnamed prison officials at Corrigan Correctional Institution (“Corrigan”) extracted Thompson from his cell because he had covered his cell window while he was using the bathroom. See Doc. #1 at 5 (¶ 1). During the extraction, the officers kicked and punched Thompson in the face. Id. at 6. The officers used force against Thompson because he was allegedly resisting and because he had participated in a protest involving the prison commissary. Id. at 5 (¶ 1). As officers escorted Thompson down the hall in handcuffs and leg shackles, someone sprayed a chemical agent in Thompson's face. Id. (¶ 2).

         Thompson was taken away and transferred from Corrigan to Northern, and, when he arrived there, he had bruises and swelling on his eyes, face, and wrist. Id. at 5-6 (¶¶ 3-4). Thompson submitted two requests to the medical unit for treatment but did not receive medical care for these injuries. Id. at 6 (¶ 4), 7 (fourth bullet point).

         On March 11, 2019, Thompson received a disciplinary report. Id. at 6 (¶ 5). The complaint does not further describe the basis for the disciplinary report. On March 12, 2019, Thompson and three other accused inmates decided to challenge the disciplinary charge at a hearing. Id. (¶ 6). Officer Leone asked the inmates “if we wanted to [be] witnesses for each other.” Ibid. Thompson declined this opportunity. Ibid. Officer Leone did not offer Thompson the assistance of an advisor. Ibid. (stating that Thompson “never denied the use of an advisor, nor was I given the opportunity to be appointed one by Officer Leone”).

         The complaint further alleges that Thompson “was housed in Northern C.I.'s seg unit for 20 days, which is past the 14 calendar day limit, without receiving restrictive housing order, hearing notice prior to hearing, notification of hearing continuance, and never received a pending investigation form from the sending facility (Corrigan C.I.) in the first place.” Ibid. (¶ 7) (capitalization normalized).

         On March 27, 2019, Thompson participated in a disciplinary hearing. Id. (¶ 8). But Thompson objected that Officer Leone as the investigator was not allowed under DOC Administrative Directive 9.5 to attend the hearing. In addition, Thompson maintains that the same administrative directive provides that “a receiving [facility] picks up the process where the sending unit left off with the disciplinary report, not the investigation.” Id. (¶¶ 8-9).

         The complaint alleges that Lt. Perez was the disciplinary hearing officer (DHO) for the hearing. Perez disregarded Thompson's objections to Leone's presence and to the investigation, saying that “none of what I said matters, all that matters is the ticket is saying I took part in the incident.” Id. (¶ 9).

         Thompson was found guilty, and his appeal was denied “because they knew if it was approved both facilit[ies] would have a lot of explaining to do, even though [they] still do because the unit manager didn't deliver the disciplinary report, nor did the unit administrator review the case within 72 hours.” Id. (¶ 10).

         Thompson alleges that he filed grievances about the incident. Id. at 7. The complaint seeks compensatory money damages for $500, 000 for the attack by three officers on him in his cell. Id. at 6.

         DISCUSSION

         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 complaint, 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 ...


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