Diaz v. Chapalain et al
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT: Based upon the Court's initial review, plaintiff's complaint is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). The Clerk of Court is directed to enter judgment for the defendants and close this case. It is so ordered. Signed by Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer on 9/22/2016. (Levenson, C.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
MIGUEL A. DIAZ,
No. 3:16-cv-00590 (JAM)
WARDEN CHAPALAIN, et al.,
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
Plaintiff Miguel A. Diaz is incarcerated at Corrigan Correctional Center. He has filed a
complaint pro se and in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Warden Chapalain and
Captain Rivera.1 Based on my initial review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I conclude that the
complaint should be dismissed on the ground that it plainly fails to state plausible grounds for
The following allegations from plaintiff’s complaint are accepted as true for purposes of
the Court’s initial review. On June 28, 2015, plaintiff visited the prison barber for a haircut.
After the haircut, he noticed a pimple on his head that was painful and began to grow. He asked a
unit staff member if he could be seen by someone in the medical department, but the unit staff
denied his request because they determined that it was not an emergency. Doc. #1 at 6 (¶¶ 1-3).
The pimple grew into a bump, continued to hurt, and made it difficult for plaintiff to
move his head from side to side. Plaintiff began to experience swelling in his neck, and the bump
Although the complaint identifies the defendant as a “warden” and by the name “C. Chapalain,” it appears
that plaintiff intends to refer to Warden Carol Chapdalaine.
continued to get larger. Plaintiff then spoke to Correctional Officers Batista and Lewis about his
condition, and they sent him to be seen by someone in the medical department. Ibid. (¶¶ 4-6).
A medical staff member prescribed pain medication and scheduled plaintiff to be seen by
a physician. A physician diagnosed plaintiff as suffering from an infection called MethicillinResistant Staphylococcus Aureus (“MRSA”) and prescribed an antibiotic to treat the condition.
A culture of the lesion confirmed the MRSA diagnosis. Ibid. (¶¶ 7-9).
Plaintiff contends that he contracted MRSA when the barber cut his hair. Ibid. (¶ 1). He
states that MRSA is now in his system, and he suffered from a second breakout in February
2016. Ibid. (¶ 10). In addition, he has a scar on his head from the lesion. Plaintiff claims that
barbers and other people who observe the scar question him about it and treat him differently.
These reactions have caused him emotional distress. Ibid. (¶ 11). Plaintiff brings this case against
Warden Chapdalaine and Captain Rivera for compensatory damages.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the 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. The Court must accept as true all factual matters alleged in a complaint, although a
complaint may not survive unless its factual recitations state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Mastafa v. Chevron Corp., 770
F.3d 170, 177 (2d Cir. 2014) (same). 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); see also Tracy v. Freshwater,
623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants).
Plaintiff’s complaint is best characterized as an Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate
indifference under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. It is well established that “[a] prison official’s ‘deliberate
indifference’ to a substantial risk of serious harm to an inmate violates the Eighth Amendment.”
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 828 (1994). A deliberate indifference claim has two
component requirements. “The first requirement is objective: the alleged deprivation of adequate
medical care must be sufficiently serious. The second requirement is subjective: the charged
officials must be subjectively reckless in their denial of medical care.” Spavone v. New York
State Dep’t of Corr. Servs., 719 F.3d 127, 138 (2d Cir. 2013). In order to meet the subjective
requirement, “the charged official [must] act or fail to act while actually aware of a substantial
risk that serious inmate harm will result.” Ibid.
Although plaintiff asserts that he contracted a serious medical condition, MRSA, he does
not assert facts to suggest that defendants or others at MacDougall were deliberately indifferent
to his health or medical needs. Plaintiff names only two defendants, Warden Chapdalaine and
Captain Rivera. Beyond naming them as defendants, plaintiff does not specifically mention
Warden Chapdalaine or Captain Rivera anywhere in his complaint. Plaintiff does not allege that
these defendants acted or failed to act in response to his medical condition, nor does he allege
any facts to suggest they were personally involved in or aware of the conduct comprising the
alleged constitutional violation. See Grullon v. City of New Haven, 720 F.3d 133, 138 (2d Cir.
2013) (“It is well settled that, in order to establish a defendant’s individual liability in a suit
brought under § 1983, a plaintiff must show, inter alia, the defendant’s personal involvement in
the alleged constitutional deprivation.”); Raspardo v. Carlone, 770 F.3d 97, 116 (2d Cir. 2014)
(noting that “liability for supervisory government officials cannot be premised on a theory of
respondeat superior because § 1983 requires individual, personalized liability on the part of each
government defendant”). Accordingly, the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
Even if plaintiff had named as defendants the officials whom he mentions in his
complaint, he has not alleged facts to suggest that those officials were aware of a substantial risk
that he would suffer serious harm. At the time plaintiff first asked a staff member in his housing
unit to be seen in the medical department, he only had a pimple on his head that was painful.
Unit staff members did not grant plaintiff’s request to go the medical department because they
did not think that his condition was serious. To the extent that unit staff members were negligent
in refusing to permit the plaintiff to visit the medical department, such conduct is not cognizable
in a civil rights action. See Farid v. Ellen, 593 F.3d 233, 249 (2d Cir. 2010) (“negligence is
insufficient to support an Eighth Amendment claim” of deliberate indifference).
When plaintiff asked to be taken to the medical department after his condition became
worse, he claims that correctional officers sent him to be seen in the medical department.
Medical staff then diagnosed his condition and prescribed medication to treat it. There are no
facts in the complaint that suffice to establish plausible grounds for relief for deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs under the Eighth Amendment. In the obvious absence of
such facts, it would be futile for plaintiff to amend his complaint, and therefore the complaint
will be dismissed with prejudice.
Based upon the Court’s initial review, plaintiff’s complaint is DISMISSED pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). The Clerk of Court is directed to enter judgment for the defendants and
close this case.
It is so ordered.
Dated at New Haven this 22nd day of September, 2016.
/s/Jeffrey Alker Meyer
Jeffrey Alker Meyer
United States District Judge
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