Gulley v. Semple et al
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER. The plaintiff shall file his amended complaint within thirty (30) days from the date of this order. Signed by Judge Michael P. Shea on 12/21/2016. (Connelly, L.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
CHAZ O. GULLEY,
LIEUTENANT SEMPLE, et al.,
CASE NO. 3:16-cv-1575 (MPS)
DECEMBER 21, 2016
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
Plaintiff Chaz O. Gulley, currently incarcerated at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional
Institution in Suffield, Connecticut, filed this case pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting
claims for violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. He asserts federal claims for use of
excessive force and deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. The plaintiff names as
defendants Commissioner Semple, Captain Shabenas, Deputy Warden Zegarzewski, Lieutenant
Perez, Lieutenant Shweighoffer, Director of Security Whidden, Captain Korch, Correctional
Officer Pearson, Nurse J. Brennan, Counselor Gaudet, and District Administrator Peter Murphy.
All defendants are named in individual and official capacities.
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. 28
U.S.C. § 1915A. In reviewing a pro se complaint, the Court must assume the truth of the
allegations, and interpret them liberally to “raise the strongest arguments [they] suggest.”
Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007). Although detailed allegations are not
required, the complaint must include sufficient facts to afford the defendants fair notice of the
claims and the grounds upon which they are based and to demonstrate a plausible right to relief.
Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Conclusory allegations are not
sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The plaintiff must plead “enough facts
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.
The plaintiff divides his allegations into five counts: (1) deliberate indifference/sexual
harassment, (2) and (3) unreasonable force, (4) excessive force, and (5) due process.
Deliberate Indifference/Sexual Harassment
On April 11, 2016, the plaintiff was transferred from Corrigan Correctional Institution
(“Corrigan”) to Walker Correctional Institution (“Walker”). His transfer coincided with the
service of a complaint in another federal civil rights action filed by the plaintiff. Walker houses
security risk group program phases one and two. The plaintiff was housed in phase three of the
program at Corrigan. Even though the conditions at Walker were more restrictive, the plaintiff
was relieved at the transfer. While at Walker, he had no negative confrontations with
On July 11, 2016, the plaintiff was transferred back to Corrigan. The plaintiff was
confused about the transfer and became paranoid. He told Mental Health staff Linda that he did
not feel safe. In response, Mental Health staff placed the plaintiff on Behavior Observation
Status in the restrictive housing unit. The lieutenant escorting the plaintiff to restrictive housing
told him that the administration would see him in the morning.
On July 12, 2016, Warden Santiago, Deputy Warden Zegarzewski, and Captain Shabenas
stopped at the plaintiff’s cell. The plaintiff repeatedly asked why he was back at Corrigan when
he was transferred because he had filed a civil lawsuit. Captain Shabenas told the plaintiff that
they did not care about his lawsuit. The officials believed that the plaintiff had a sexual
relationship with a female officer and, once the officer had transferred to a different correctional
facility, the plaintiff was brought back to Corrigan. Captain Shabenas stated that they were also
suspicious of the relationship between the plaintiff and supervising psychologist Coursen. The
plaintiff claimed a professional relationship only.
When the officials continued their tour of the unit, Lieutenant Perez inquired about the
relationship between the plaintiff and Dr. Coursen. Lieutenant Perez stated that Dr. Coursen was
making enemies because she reports improper conduct by correctional staff. He offered to have
the plaintiff transferred back to general population if he would help set up Dr. Coursen. The
plaintiff ignored the offer.
Between July 12, 2016, and August 16, 2016, the plaintiff requested mental health
services about twice each week for complaints of agitation, stress, depressing moods, and
paranoid thoughts. Mental Health Social Worker Matt told the plaintiff that Dr. Coursen was on
vacation but would see him when she returned. No other mental health staff member would treat
the plaintiff until Dr. Coursen returned, because she had been seeing him weekly and had the
best rapport with him. The plaintiff also attributes the lack of treatment to mental health social
workers being laid off.
The plaintiff wrote several letters to Commissioner Semple regarding his Security Risk
Group status and placement. Commissioner Semple referred the letters to Director of Security
Whidden, who has not yet removed the plaintiff from the Security Risk Group Program.
On August 12, 2016, the plaintiff signed paperwork to enter phase five of the Security
Risk Group Program, the final phase of the program. On August 16, 2016, the plaintiff had a
scheduled legal call with Assistant Attorney General Wilson, counsel for the defendants in
another of the plaintiff’s federal civil rights actions. Counselor Gaudet told the plaintiff that the
legal call had been cancelled as the result of a facility lockdown.
The plaintiff experienced an emotional breakdown and threw a cosmetic item at his cell
wall. Lieutenant Perez was called to the housing unit. The plaintiff was told that he would be
taken to speak with mental health staff and that he should not receive a disciplinary report for the
outburst as he did not threaten to hurt himself or others. The plaintiff allowed correctional staff
to handcuff him with his hands behind his back.
Three hours later, the plaintiff remained in restrictive housing. When he spoke with
District Administrator Murphy at his cell door regarding “the things he was going through while
housed at Corrigan,” ECF No. 1, ¶ 12, District Administrator Murphy deferred to Deputy
An hour later, the plaintiff received a disciplinary report for interference with safety and
security as a result of the incident in his cell. Captain Doughtery told him that he would return to
phase three of the Security Risk Group Program. In protest, the plaintiff covered his cell
Verbal intervention was used and, eventually, the plaintiff consented to be handcuffed.
Lieutenant Shweighoffer and Captain Korch, with Captains Shabenas and Doughtery present,
ordered the plaintiff placed in four-point restraints. Lieutenant Shweighoffer refused to permit
the plaintiff to use the bathroom after he had been confined for between three and four hours.
Prisoners are supposed to be permitted a bathroom and range of motion break after two hours.
After three hours, Lieutenant Shweighoffer and other staff refused to switch the plaintiff
to in-cell restraints to allow him to use the bathroom. Lieutenant Shweighoffer ordered staff to
cut off the plaintiff’s clothes and place him in a safety gown.
After the plaintiff had requested to use the bathroom more than ten times, Lieutenant
Shweighoffer offered him a urinal and bedpan, knowing that the plaintiff was chained to the bed
and use of these devices would be uncomfortable. The plaintiff refused.
Nurses Holly and Abby conducted fifteen-minute checks on the plaintiff during the first
and second shifts without problem. Between 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., Lieutenant Shweighoffer
and other staff came to conduct a range of motion check. By this time, the plaintiff had urinated
on his left leg and the floor next to the bed. Before the camera was turned on, the plaintiff
overheard Lieutenant Shweighoffer whisper to Correctional Officer Pearson that he was going to
permit the plaintiff to shower while handcuffed and shackled.
The officers escorted the plaintiff to the shower. When the plaintiff returned to his cell to
be placed in the four-point restraints, he noticed that the soft restraints closest to his face were
soaked in urine. Lieutenant Shweighoffer stated that this was cleaning solution. The plaintiff
was returned to the four-point restraints. Nurse Brennan refused to conduct medical checks on
the plaintiff after he complained to her that he felt pain and numbness in his neck and arms.
On August 23, 2016, the plaintiff stopped Dr. Coursen while she was conducting a
routine unit tour and asked to be seen. Before Dr. Coursen could respond, Lieutenant Lipinsky
told Dr. Coursen to leave the plaintiff’s door. She did so. Lieutenant Lipinsky told the plaintiff
that Dr. Coursen had been ordered by the prison administration not to speak with the plaintiff.
Due Process Failure
On August 24, 2016, the plaintiff attended a disciplinary hearing on three disciplinary
reports for threats on staff. The reports were issued by Correctional Officer Savoie, Lieutenant
Shweighoffer and Nurse Brennan. The plaintiff told his advocate and the hearing officer that the
charges were false. The plaintiff was found guilty of all charges.
Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff attended a legal visit. When the visit was concluded
several hours later, the plaintiff was escorted to the A/P area to be transferred to Walker
Although the plaintiff separates his allegations into five sections, each section does not
include one discrete claim. For example, in his first count, he has included claims for denial of
mental health treatment, harassment, and his classification on Security Risk Group status, and his
claims for use of unreasonable force and excessive force in counts two and three are part of the
same claim challenging his placement on in-cell restraint status.
The complaint does not comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20's requirements
governing party joinder. Rule 20(a)(2) permits the joinder of multiple defendants in a single
action if two criteria are met: first, the claims “aris[e] out of the same transaction, occurrence, or
series of transactions and occurrences”; and second, “any question of law or fact common to all
defendants will arise in the action.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2).
“What will constitute the same transaction or occurrence under the first prong of Rule
20(a) is approached on a case by case basis.” Kehr ex rel. Kehr v. Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A.,
596 F. Supp. 2d 821, 826 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (citation omitted). As the Second Circuit has
observed in the Rule 13 context,1 whether a counterclaim arises out of the same transaction as
the original claim depends upon the logical relationship between the claims and whether the
“essential facts of the various claims are so logically connected that considerations of judicial
economy and fairness dictate that all the issues be resolved in one lawsuit.” Harris v. Steinem,
571 F.2d 119, 123 (2d Cir. 1978).
The plaintiff asserts a series of unrelated claims. For example, the challenge to his
classification asserted against defendants Semple and Whidden is the only claim referencing
these defendants. The plaintiff’s excessive force claims are unrelated to his claim of deliberate
indifference to serious mental health needs and the claims involve different defendants. As the
claims do not “aris[e] out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions and
occurrences,” Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2), the complaint fails to comply with Rule 20.2
Because the Second Circuit has expressed a preference for adjudicating cases on their
“In construing the term ‘transaction or occurrence’ under Rule 20, many courts have drawn guidance
from the use of the same term in Rule 13(a), applying to compulsory counterclaims.” Barnhart v. Town of Parma,
252 F.R.D. 156, 160 (W.D.N.Y. 2008) (citation omitted).
The court notes that Rule 20 is becoming increasingly important to district courts tasked with reviewing
prisoner’s complaints pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. As two commentators have noted:
In the past, courts did not always pay much attention to this rule. However, nowadays they are
concerned that prisoners will try to avoid the filing fee and “three strikes” provisions of the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) by joining claims in one complaint that really should be filed in
separate actions which require separate filing fees and would count as separate “strikes” if
dismissed on certain grounds.
John Boston & Daniel E. Manville, Prisoners’ Self-Help Litigation Manual 348 (4th ed. 2010) (collecting cases).
merits, it will generally find failure to grant leave to amend an abuse of discretion where the sole
ground for dismissal is that the complaint does not comply with rules governing joinder. See,
e.g., Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988). Accordingly, the plaintiff is hereby
directed to file an amended complaint that complies with Rule 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. The amended complaint shall include only one of the distinct sets of claims and shall
list only the defendants involved in that claim in the case caption.
The Court enters the following orders:
The plaintiff shall file his amended complaint within thirty (30) days from the
date of this order. If he wishes to pursue his other claims, he may do so in separate actions.
If the plaintiff changes his address at any time during the litigation of this case,
Local Court Rule 83.1(c)2 provides that the plaintiff MUST notify the court. Failure to do so
can result in the dismissal of the case. The plaintiff must give notice of a new address even if he
is incarcerated. The plaintiff should write PLEASE NOTE MY NEW ADDRESS on the notice.
It is not enough to just put the new address on a letter without indicating that it is a new address.
If the plaintiff has more than one pending case, he should indicate all of the case numbers in the
notification of change of address. The plaintiff should also notify the defendant or the attorney
for the defendant of his new address.
The plaintiff shall utilize the Prisoner Efiling Program when filing documents
with the Court.
SO ORDERED this 21st day of December 2016 at Hartford, Connecticut.
Michael P. Shea
United States District Judge
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