Figgs v. Arnone et al
RULING AND ORDER re 58 Order on Motion for Summary Judgment Signed by Judge Robert N. Chatigny on 3/31/14.(Glynn, T.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
LEO ARNONE, et al.,
RULING AND ORDER
Plaintiff Troy Figgs, a Rhode Island inmate in the custody
of the Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC), brings this
action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking injunctive relief
and damages against numerous DOC officials.1
alleges that the defendants violated the plaintiff’s Eighth
Amendment right to a safe prison environment when they failed to
protect him against an assault by another inmate.
have moved for summary judgment.
For reasons that follow, the
motion is granted.
The complaint names the defendants in their individual and
official capacities. Any claims against the defendants for money
damages in their official capacities are barred by the Eleventh
Amendment. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 169 (1985)
(Eleventh Amendment protects state officials sued for damages in
their official capacity); Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 342
(1979) (section 1983 does not override a state’s Eleventh
Amendment immunity). The claims for injunctive relief are moot
because plaintiff has been transferred to a different facility.
See Salahuddin v. Goord, 467 F.3d 263, 272 (2d Cir. 2006);
Mawhinney v. Henderson, 542 F.2d 1, 2 (2d Cir. 1976). This
leaves only the claims for money damages against the defendants
in their individual capacities.
Summary judgment may be granted if the evidence supporting
the plaintiff’s claim is insufficient to permit a jury to return
a verdict in his favor.
U.S. 242, 249 (1986).
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
In evaluating the record, the evidence
must be viewed in a manner most favorable to the plaintiff.
The record reflects the following facts.
In 2008, plaintiff
was transferred from Rhode Island to Connecticut.
Until 2013, he
was housed at Northern Correctional Institution in a Security
Risk Group Unit as a member of the Bloods.
Plaintiff claims to
have renounced his membership in the Bloods as a result of
trouble he had with other members while imprisoned in Rhode
See Cmpl. Exh. E, Letter to Counselor McClendon (Jan.
At Northern, a member of the Bloods spread rumors
that plaintiff was a “snitch” and “baby killer.”
The rumors were
based on plaintiff’s conviction for murder of a child.
alleges that prison officials helped to spread these rumors.
In the summer of 2009,
plaintiff got into an altercation
with a cellmate who said he did not want to live with a “baby
After the altercation, plaintiff sent letters to staff
and submitted formal grievances expressing safety concerns about
being housed in the unit with the Bloods.2
The record reflects
that staff responded by arranging for plaintiff to be singlecelled and escorted when he was out of his cell.
See Cmpl. Exh.
F, Reply from Counselor McClendon (Feb. 3, 2010); Cmpl. Exh. G,
Reply from Garnett (Feb. 5, 2010) (“Regarding your safety, you
are currently housed by yourself, recreate by yourself and are
escorted wherever you go within the facility . . . . [Y]ou do not
have any contact with other inmates.”).
Plaintiff provides no
evidence to the contrary.
In December 2010, plaintiff was attacked in the recreation
yard by Victor Smalls, a member of the Bloods, who managed to
slip out of his handcuffs.
Douglas Grant, another Bloods member,
also slipped out of his handcuffs and assaulted a different
Plaintiff could not defend himself due to his own
restraints and was injured before prison staff were able to
According to Smalls’s affidavit, submitted in
support of plaintiff’s opposition to summary judgment, Smalls was
motivated to attack the plaintiff because he had overheard
comments by correctional officers that plaintiff is a “baby
The letters show that plaintiff thought his security risk
group designation was improper and wanted to change his status.
See, e.g., Cmpl. Exh. E, Letter to Counselor McClendon (Jan. 20,
2010). To the extent he is seeking to pursue a claim based on
his designation and housing placement, his allegations do not
support a cause of action. See Harris v. Meulemans, 389 F. Supp.
2d 438, 441 (D. Conn. 2005).
After the assault by Smalls, plaintiff filed a grievance
seeking an investigation to determine whether officers had failed
to properly search and handcuff Smalls.
Plaintiff stated that he
believed the assault was caused by the officers’ negligence.
Cmpl. Exh. M, Level One Grievance (Jan. 3, 2011) (emphasis
added); see also Exh. N, Level 2/3 Grievance (Jan. 10, 2011)
(“The officers were negligent in there [sic] duties of properly
securing the handcuffs and or strip searching inmates to make
sure no cuff key was brought into the rec yard.”
The Eighth Amendment requires prison officials to take
reasonable measures to protect inmates from assaults.
Coughlin, 780 F.2d 205, 209 (2d Cir.1985).
A prison official
violates the Eighth Amendment if he acts with deliberate
indifference to an inmate’s safety, in other words, if he knows
the inmate faces a substantial risk of serious harm and
disregards the risk by failing to take reasonable measures to
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832-51 (1994).
Though intent to cause harm is not required, mere negligence does
not violate the Eighth Amendment.
Stubbs v. Dudley, 849 F.2d 83,
85 (2d Cir. 1988) (citing Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 33031 (1986)).
In this case, the evidence does not support a reasonable
finding that any of the defendants was deliberately indifferent
to a threat to plaintiff’s safety.
There is no evidence that any
of the defendants was on notice of a specific risk that the
plaintiff would be assaulted by Smalls.3
On the day Smalls
attacked, approximately eight months had passed since plaintiff’s
last grievance and no incidents or threats had been reported by
plaintiff in the interim.
In this context, a jury could not
reasonably return a verdict in favor of the plaintiff on his
Eighth Amendment claim against any of the defendants.
Accordingly, the motion for summary judgment is hereby
The Clerk may enter judgment and close the file.
So ordered this 31st day of March 2014.
Robert N. Chatigny
United States District Judge
Plaintiff states that correctional officers “had put
[Smalls’] cuffs on loose to allow him to slip,” citing Smalls’s
affidavit. However, Smalls’s affidavit does not support an
inference that the officers acted intentionally; Smalls states
that he “took it upon [him]self to slip out of [his] handcuffs
(loose) and assault [the plaintiff].” Smalls Aff., ECF No. 55-4.
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