Shabazz v. Dzurenda et al
ORDER dismissing the Complaint on res judicata grounds, denying 7 Plaintiff's Motion for a TRO and Preliminary Injunction, as well as finding as moot 8 Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Complaint, which suffers the same res judicata defect as Plaintiff's original Complaint, discussed in the attached Order. The Clerk is directed to close this case. Signed by Judge Vanessa L. Bryant on 10/13/2016. (Hudson, C)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
JAMES DZURENDA, et al.,
Civil Action No.
October 13, 2016
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR A
TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
[DKT. NO. 7] AND DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT [DKT. NO. 1]
Plaintiff Shaka Shabazz (“Shabazz”) filed his Complaint in the instant
action on September 14, 2016, alleging Defendants James Dzurenda, Angel
Quirous, Carol Chapdelaine, Captain Corl1, Corrections Officer Rule, Corrections
Officer Tyburski, Bruce Richardson, Counselor Lisa Grant, and Corrections
Training Officer Thompson (together, “Defendants”) violated Plaintiff’s First,
Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights and intentionally spoliated evidence in
connection with a disciplinary hearing. [Dkt. No. 1 (“Complaint”).] On October
11, 2016, Plaintiff Shabazz brought a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order
and a Preliminary Injunction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(a),
seeking an order to restrain or enjoin Defendants from conducting future
disciplinary hearings that deny Plaintiff due process. [Dkt. No. 7 (“Motion”).] For
No first name is provided for Defendants Corl, Rule, Tyburski, or Thompson.
the reasons set forth below, the Court DISMISSES the Complaint and DENIES
On March 15, 2014, Shabazz failed to follow an order from a corrections
officer to step through a metal detector. Complaint at 5. A disciplinary hearing
was held to address the incident. Id. at 7. Shabazz desired to present security
camera footage at the hearing to support his innocence, but was not allowed to
review the footage himself. Id. at 7-9. Shabazz was instead offered
representation by an “advocate,” who would review the evidence on Shabazz’s
behalf and submit a report for the disciplinary hearing. Id. at 7-9. However, the
advocate was also required to submit an independent conclusion and, in
Shabazz’s case, the advocate concluded Shabazz was guilty and recommended
he be “receive consequences accordingly.” Id. at 9-11.
Shabazz subsequently brought a state habeas corpus action in
Connecticut Superior Court against the Connecticut State Prison Warden,
alleging the disciplinary hearing procedure denied Plaintiff due process. Shabazz
v. Warden, CV14406573, 2016 WL 5339522, *1 (Conn. Super. Ct. Aug. 22, 2016).
State Superior Court Judge Sferraza apparently adjudicated the merits of the case
and found that Shabazz was deprived of due process because Shabazz was
prohibited from marshalling his own defense, and was provided an advocate who
served not to defend Shabazz, but to contribute an independent conclusion
proclaiming Shabazz’s guilt. Id. at *4. As Judge Sferraza noted, “with advocacy
like this, who needs adversaries?” Id. at *4. The Connecticut Superior Court
accordingly vacated the disciplinary hearing officer’s decision and ordered that
“any new hearing, if one is conducted, comply with the principles adjudicated in
this decision.” Id. at *4.
On September 23, 2016, one month after the Connecticut Superior Court’s
ruling, Shabazz filed his Complaint in the instant action, raising Constitutional
and tort allegations in connection with the disciplinary hearing addressing the
March 15, 2014 incident. On October 11, 2016, Shabazz filed his Motion for a
Temporary Restraining Order and a Preliminary Injunction in this action. Motion
at 1. Plaintiff makes the same due process argument in his Motion that he did
before the Connecticut Superior Court: the prison’s current disciplinary hearing
procedure fails to provide Plaintiff an effective advocate and denies Plaintiff the
right to marshal evidence in his own defense, denying him due process.
Dismissal of the Complaint Under Res Judicata
“Res judicata, or claim preclusion, means that a party may not split causes
of action that ‘could be brought and resolved together.’” Vandever v. Emmanuel,
606 F. Supp. 2d 253, 254 (D. Conn. 2009) (quoting Nestor v. Pratt & Whitney, 466
F.3d 65, 70 (2d Cir. 2006)). “This doctrine means that once a case reaches a final
judgment on the merits, the parties cannot later re-litigate the issues that were
raised or could have been raised in that earlier case.” Id.; see also Waldman v.
Village of Kiryas Joel, 207 F.3d 105, 110-11 (2d Cir. 2000) (stating it is wellestablished that “a plaintiff cannot avoid the effects of res judicata by ‘splitting’
his claim into various suits, based on different legal theories (with different
evidence ‘necessary’ to each suit)”). “Under the federal rules of res judicata, a
subsequent lawsuit will be barred where the defendant2 can show: (1) an
adjudication on the merits in the previous action; (2) that the previous lawsuit
involved the plaintiffs, or those in privity with them; and (3) that the claims
asserted in the subsequent suit were raised, or could have been raised, in the
prior proceeding.” Greenwich Life Settlements, Inc. v. ViaSource Funding Grp.,
LLC, 742 F.Supp.2d 446, 453 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) (citations omitted).
“Whether a claim that was not raised in the previous action could have
been raised therein depends in part on whether the same transaction or
connected series of transactions is at issue, whether the same evidence is
needed to support both claims, and whether the facts essential to the second
were present in the first.” Marvel Characters, Inc. v. Simon, 310 F.3d 280, 287 (2d
Cir. 2002) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). “Even claims based
upon different legal theories are barred provided they arise from the same
transaction or occurrence.” Cieszkowska v. Gray Line N.Y., 295 F.3d 204, 205 (2d
In this case, Shabazz bases his Complaint on the same March 14, 2015
incident and subsequent disciplinary hearing that was at the center of his suit
before the Connecticut Superior Court. Shabazz’s Constitutional and tort claims
are “related in time, space, [and] origin,” to his prior due process action, and
could have been raised in the prior proceeding. Marvel Characters, Inc., 310 F.3d
at 287. Additionally the finality requirement for res judicata is satisfied as there is
In the absence of a motion to dismiss on res judicata grounds, a Court may
dismiss sua sponte. Rollock v. LaBarbera, 383 F. App’x 29, 30 (2d Cir. 2010).
no evidence that any party has appealed the Superior Court’s ruling, and even if
an appeal were pending, it would not preclude the application of res judicata.
Sullivan v. Hyland, 647 F. Supp. 2d 143, 173 (D. Conn. 2009) (“a pending appeal
does not preclude the application of res judicata”). This action must accordingly
be dismissed. As the case is barred by the doctrine of res judicata and must be
dismissed, the court cannot grant any of the relief the Plaintiff seeks.
Denial of the Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction
Even if the Court had not dismissed Plaintiff’s Complaint at this juncture, it
would be compelled to deny his Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and
Preliminary Injunction. A temporary restraining order is an “extraordinary and
drastic remedy, one that should not be granted unless the movant, by a clear
showing, carries the burden of persuasion.” Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner &
Smith, Inc. v. Reidy, 477 F. Supp. 2d 472, 474 (D. Conn. 2007) (quoting Moore v.
Consol. Edison Co. of N.Y., Inc., 409 F.3d 506, 510 (2d Cir. 2005)). “The purpose
of a temporary restraining order is to preserve an existing situation in status quo
until the court has an opportunity to pass upon the merits of the demand for a
preliminary injunction.” Garcia v. Yonkers Sch. Dist., 561 F.3d 97, 107 (2d Cir.
2009). To obtain a temporary restraining order, the Plaintiff must show
“irreparable harm, and either (1) a likelihood of success on the merits of the case
or (2) sufficiently serious questions going to the merits to make them a fair
ground for litigation and a balance of hardships tipping decidedly in favor of the
moving party.” See Waldman Pub. Corp. v. Landoll, Inc., 43 F.3d 775, 779–80 (2d
Cir. 1994). The analysis is the same for a preliminary injunction. Control Sys.,
Inc. v. Realized Sols., Inc., No. 3:11CV1423 PCD, 2011 WL 4433750, at *2 (D. Conn.
Sept. 22, 2011) (citing Local 1814, Int'l Longshoremen's Ass’n, AFL-CIO v. N.Y.
Shipping Ass’n, Inc., 965 F.2d 1224, 1228 (2d Cir. 1992)).
To satisfy the irreparable harm requirement, Plaintiff must demonstrate
that, absent a temporary restraining order, he will “suffer an injury that is neither
remote nor speculative, but actual and imminent, and one that cannot be
remedied if a court waits until the end of trial to resolve the harm.” See Faiveley
Transp. Malmo AB v. Wabtec Corp., 559 F.3d 110, 118 (2d Cir. 2009); Maxum
Petro., Inc. v. Hiatt, 2016 WL 5496283, *1-2 (D. Conn. Sept. 28, 2016). “Where there
is an adequate remedy at law, such as an award of money damages, injunctions
are unavailable except in extraordinary circumstances.” Faiveley Transp. Malmo
AB v. Wabtec Corp., 559 F.3d at 118-19; Forest City Daly Hous., Inc. v. N.
Hempstead, 175 F.3d 144, 153 (2d Cir. 1999) (same).
Plaintiff brought the instant Motion reasserting that the prison’s
disciplinary hearing procedure provides inadequate due process. Motion at 1-3.
The Superior Court’s decision to vacate the prior disciplinary hearing does
establish that a new hearing conducted in a manner as ordered by the court to
afford Shabazz procedural due process rights is imminent. However, Plaintiff
does not assert a basis for his apparent belief that the imminent hearing will
contravene the Connecticut Superior Court’s Order to provide due process,
inflicting irreparable harm. Plaintiff’s allegation of future harm relies on
speculation, and is accordingly insufficient to warrant a temporary restraining
order or preliminary injunction. Faiveley Transp. Malmo AB, 559 F.3d at 118.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court DISMISSES the Complaint and
DENIES Plaintiff’s Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary
Injunction. The Clerk is directed to close this case.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Hon. Vanessa L. Bryant
United States District Judge
Dated at Hartford, Connecticut: October 13, 2016
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?