Conley v. Rivera et al
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER Discovery due by 8/21/2017 Dispositive Motions due by 9/20/2017 Signed by Judge Victor A. Bolden on 1/20/2017.(Chen, C.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
JOHN L. CONLEY,
JOSE RIVERA, et al.,
CASE NO. 3:16-cv-2083 (VAB)
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
Plaintiff, John L. Conley, currently incarcerated at Northern Correctional Institution, filed
this Complaint pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”). Mr. Conley’s Complaint was
received on December 19, 2016, ECF No. 1, and his motion to proceed in forma pauperis was
granted on January 4, 2017, ECF No. 9. The Defendants are Captain Jose Rivera, Lieutenants
Hicks and Goudreault, and Correctional Officers Magliochetti, Mclain,1 Bertrand, Cheney, Felix,
Usluca, Cabrera and Lavimodiere. Mr. Conley alleges that the Defendants failed to protect him
from an alleged assault by another inmate.
Standard of Review
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, 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 “liberally construe
[the] pleadings,” and interpret the complaint to “raise the strongest arguments it suggests.”
Defendant Mclain is incorrectly listed on the docket as McClain.
Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007); see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90,
101-03 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special solicitude that courts ought to show to pro se litigants).
Although detailed allegations are not required, the complaint must still include sufficient facts to
afford the defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and to
demonstrate a right to relief. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).
Conclusory allegations are not sufficient. See 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.
While incarcerated at Bridgeport Correctional Center, Mr. Conley was allegedly
designated as a Security Risk Group member and allegedly transferred to MacDougall-Walker
Correctional Institution in late December 2015. Compl. at 8, ECF No. 1. Mr. Conley was
confined in the B1 housing unit in Phase One of the Security Risk Group Program. Id. Captain
Rivera was allegedly in charge of the unit. Id.
Allegedly, inmates in the B1 unit are required to attend recreation handcuffed with their
hands behind their backs. Compl. at 8. During his recreation time, which Mr. Conley allegedly
shared with the Bloods, he allegedly observed that thinner inmates were able to slip their
handcuffs to the front and assault other inmates. Id. Mr. Conley allegedly brought this fact to
Captain Rivera’s attention numerous times. Mr. Conley also alleges that he told Captain Rivera
about such an inmate, Jayquan Dilday, who allegedly insisted that Mr. Conley was not a gang
member and had stated that, if Mr. Conley continued to have recreation time at the same time as
the Bloods, Mr. Dilday would assault Mr. Conley. Id. at 8-9.
Mr. Conley allegedly submitted his first request to Captain Rivera on February 9, 2016,
after allegedly hearing members of the Bloods asking why Mr. Conley shared recreation time
with them. Compl. at 9. When he received no response, Mr. Conley allegedly spoke to Captain
Rivera when he toured the housing unit. Id. Captain Rivera allegedly stated that he would look
into the matter. Id. Mr. Conley alleges that he did not attend recreation while waiting for a
response. Id. Inmates who had allegedly overheard the conversation between Mr. Conley and
Captain Rivera allegedly began calling Mr. Conley a snitch. Id.
On March 13, 2016, Mr. Conley allegedly passed Captain Rivera a note while Captain
Rivera was touring the housing unit and told Captain Rivera that he was losing patience. Compl.
at 9-10. Captain Rivera allegedly stated that he was still investigating the matter and advised Mr.
Conley to “sit tight.” Id. at 10.
On May 26, 2016, Mr. Conley alleges that he attended recreation to speak with the
Bloods to try to come to an agreement that would allow him to attend recreation. Compl. at 10.
While he was speaking to Blood members, another Blood-affiliated inmate allegedly slipped his
handcuffs to the front and assaulted Mr. Conley, who was unable to defend himself as his hands
were behind his back in handcuffs. Id.
Defendants Hicks, Goudreault, Cheney, Bertrand and Mclain allegedly responded to the
assault and escorted Mr. Conley to segregation. Compl. at 11. Five minutes later, Defendant
Goudreault allegedly escorted Mr. Conley to the medical unit where the laceration to Mr.
Conley’s right eye, sustained during the alleged assault, was treated. Id.
The following day, Mr. Conley allegedly returned to B1 unit and permitted to serve his
segregation time there. Compl. at 11. Mr. Conley allegedly experienced explosive headaches
and blurred vision. Id. He was allegedly seen in the Medical Unit and scheduled for an eye
Mr. Conley asserts three legal claims: (1) a claim for supervisory liability against
Defendants Rivera, Hicks and Goudreault; (2) a claim for deliberate indifference to safety
against Defendant Rivera; and (3) a claim for failure to protect him from harm against
Defendants Mclain, Bertrand, Cheney, Magliochetti, Felix, Usluca, Cabrera and Lavimodiere.
“Because a finding of supervisory liability requires that the allegations against that supervisory
defendant ‘satisfy each element of the underlying constitutional tort,” the Court first considers
the deliberate indifference to safety claim against Captain Rivera before considering the
supervisory liability claim against him and Defendants Hicks and Goudreault. Manning v.
Griffin, No. 15-CV-3 (KMK), 2016 WL 1274588, at *12 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 31, 2016) (citing
Turkmen v. Hasty, 789 F.3d 218, 249-50 (2d Cir. 2015) (discussing supervisory liability in
Bivens claims), cert granted, Ziglar v. Turkmen, 137 S. Ct. 292 (2016)).
Eighth Amendment Claims
Deliberate Indifference Claim
To state a claim for the violation of the Eighth Amendment through a deliberate
indifference to his safety, Mr. Conley must show that “(1) he was incarcerated under conditions
posing a substantial risk of serious harm and (2) defendant prison officials possessed sufficient
culpable intent.” Lewis v. Swicki, 629 F. App'x 77, 79 (2d Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks
omitted) (citing Hayes v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Corr., 84 F.3d 614, 620 (2d Cir.1996)); see also
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). A prison official acts with “culpable intent” that
violates the Eighth Amendment “if he has knowledge that an inmate faces a substantial risk of
serious harm and he disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate the
harm.” Lewis, 629 F. App’x at 79.
Mr. Conley alleges that Captain Rivera was deliberately indifferent to his safety because
he did not act on Mr. Conley’s multiple complaints of threatened harm during the period from
Mr. Conley’s first complaint in early February 2016 through the date of the alleged assault in late
May 2016. These allegations are sufficient to state a claim for deliberate indifference against
Captain Rivera under the Eighth Amendment because Mr .Conley has alleged, first, that Captain
Rivera had knowledge of the threats to Mr. Conley’s safety because Mr. Conley had reported
these threats to Captain Rivera and, second, that Captain Rivera failed to take any measures to
prevent the harm. Lewis, 629 F. App’x at 79. These allegations meet the requirements to state a
claim for deliberate indifference to safety.
Failure to Protect Claim
Under the Eighth Amendment, prison officials have a duty to make reasonable efforts to
ensure inmate safety. This duty includes protecting inmates from harm at the hands of other
inmates. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832; Fischl v. Armitage, 128 F.3d 50, 55 (2d Cir. 1997) (“The
Eighth Amendment . . . imposes on prison officials a duty to protect prisoners from violence at
the hands of other prisoners.” (internal quotation marks omitted)). To establish an Eighth
Amendment violation for a prison official’s failure to protect from harm, an incarcerated plaintiff
must show first, “that he is incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious
harm,” and second, that the prison official had a “sufficiently culpable state of mind,” which in
“prison-conditions cases” is “one of deliberate indifference to inmate health or safety.” Farmer,
511 U.S. at 834. To show deliberate indifference, the plaintiff must show that “the official
kn[ew] of and disregard[ed] an excessive risk to inmate health or safety,” which means that the
official must “both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial
risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Id. at 837. Thus, the
“deliberate indifference standard embodies both an objective and a subjective prong.” Hathaway
v. Coughlin, 37 F.3d 63, 66 (2d Cir. 1994); see also Bridgewater v. Taylor, 698 F. Supp. 2d 351,
357 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) (explaining that defendants must be aware of facts supporting an inference
that harm would occur and must actually draw that inference).
Mr. Conley alleges no facts suggesting that defendants Mclain, Bertrand, Cheney,
Magliochetti, Felix, Usluca, Cabrera and Lavimodiere were aware of any threats to Mr. Conley’s
safety before the assault occurred. Mr. Conley’s factual allegations only indicate that Captain
Rivera had awareness of Mr. Conley’s complaints. Thus, he has alleged no facts supporting the
subjective component of the failure to protect standard. The claims against defendants Mclain,
Bertrand, Cheney, Magliochetti, Felix, Usluca, Cabrera and Lavimodiere are dismissed under 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
To state a claim for supervisory liability under Section 1983, a plaintiff must allege that a
defendant had some “personal responsibility” for the alleged constitutional violation. Hernandez
v. Keane, 341 F.3d 137, 144 (2d Cir. 2003) (“[S]upervisor liability in a § 1983 action depends on
a showing of some personal responsibility, and cannot rest on respondeat superior.”); see also
Wright v. Smith, 21 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir. 1994) (“It is well settled in this Circuit that personal
involvement of defendants in alleged constitutional deprivations is a prerequisite to an award of
damages under § 1983.” (internal quotation marks omitted)). The required personal
responsibility of a defendant can be shown in one or more of the following ways: “(1) actual
direct participation in the constitutional violation, (2) failure to remedy a wrong after being
informed through a report or appeal, (3) creation of a policy or custom that sanctioned conduct
amounting to a constitutional violation, or allowing such a policy or custom to continue, (4)
grossly negligent supervision of subordinates who committed a violation, or (5) failure to act on
information indicating that unconstitutional acts were occurring.” Hernandez, 341 F.3d at 145.
To state a claim for supervisory liability under Section 1983, Mr. Conley must also
demonstrate a causal link between the actions of the supervisory official and his injuries. See
Poe v. Leonard, 282 F.3d 123, 140 (2d Cir. 2002) (“We have held that a supervisor may be
found liable for his deliberate indifference to the rights of others . . . for his gross negligence in
failing to supervise his subordinates who commit such wrongful acts, provided that the plaintiff
can show an affirmative causal link between the supervisor's inaction and h[is] injury.”)
Mr. Conley alleges that he was assaulted because Captain Rivera failed to take action in
response to the information that Mr. Conley provided to Captain Rivera, which alleged that Mr.
Dilday had threatened physical harm to Mr. Conley. Mr. Conley has therefore stated a claim for
Captain Rivera’s supervisory liability by alleging first, either a “failure to remedy a wrong after
being informed through a report” or “failure to act on information indicating that
unconstitutional acts were occurring,” Hernandez, 341 F.3d at 145, and second, that there was an
alleged “causal link” between Captain Rivera’s failure to respond to Mr. Conley’s report and Mr.
Dilday’s alleged assault on Mr. Conley. Poe, 282 F.3d at 140. These allegations are sufficient to
state a supervisory liability claim against Captain Rivera.
Mr. Conley does not, however, allege any facts suggesting that Lieutenants Hicks and
Goudreault were aware of Mr. Dilday’s alleged threat against Mr. Conley at any time prior to the
assault or were aware that some members of the Bloods were slipping their handcuffs to the front
and assaulting other inmates. Mr. Conley alleges only that he informed Captain Rivera about
these problems and Mr. Dilday’s alleged threats, and there are no allegations that any other
corrections officer had any knowledge of these issues. Thus, Mr. Conley fails to allege facts to
support a plausible claim for supervisory liability against defendants Hicks and Goudreault.
In accordance with the foregoing analysis, the Court enters the following orders:
All claims against defendants Hicks, Goudreault, Mclain, Bertrand, Cheney,
Magliochetti, Felix, Usluca, Cabrera and Lavimodiere are DISMISSED under 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b)(1). The case will proceed on the claims for deliberate indifference to safety and
supervisory liability against Captain Rivera.
The Clerk shall verify the current work address for defendant Rivera with the
Department of Correction Office of Legal Affairs, mail a waiver of service of process request
packet to him at the confirmed address within twenty-one (21) days of this Order, and report to
the court on the status of the waiver request on the thirty-fifth (35) day after mailing. If the
defendant fails to return the waiver request, the Clerk shall make arrangements for in-person
service by the U.S. Marshals Service on the defendant in his individual capacity and the
defendant shall be required to pay the costs of such service in accordance with Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 4(d).
The Clerk shall prepare a summons form and send an official capacity service
packet to the U.S. Marshal Service. The U.S. Marshal is directed to effect service of the
complaint on defendant Rivera in his official capacity at the Office of the Attorney General, 55
Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06141, within twenty-one (21) days from the date of this order and to
file a return of service within thirty (30) days from the date of this order.
The Clerk shall send written notice to plaintiff of the status of this action, along
with a copy of this Order.
The Clerk shall send a courtesy copy of the Complaint and this Ruling and Order
to the Connecticut Attorney General and the Department of Correction Office of Legal Affairs.
Defendant shall file his response to the complaint, either an answer or motion to
dismiss, within sixty (60) days from the date the waiver form is sent. If he chooses to file an
answer, he shall admit or deny the allegations and respond to the cognizable claim recited above.
He also may include any and all additional defenses permitted by the Federal Rules.
Discovery, under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 26 through 37, shall be
completed within seven months (210 days) from the date of this order. Discovery requests need
not be filed with the court.
All motions for summary judgment shall be filed within eight months (240 days)
from the date of this order.
Under Local Civil Rule 7(a), a nonmoving party must respond to a dispositive
motion within twenty-one (21) days of the date the motion was filed. If no response is filed, or
the response is not timely, the dispositive motion can be granted absent objection.
If Mr. Conley 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. Mr. Conley must give notice of a new address even if he
is incarcerated. Mr. Conley 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 Mr. Conley has more than one pending case, he should indicate all of the case numbers in the
notification of change of address. Mr. Conley should also notify the defendant or the attorney
for the defendant of his new address.
Mr. Conley shall utilize the Prisoner Efiling Program when filing documents with
SO ORDERED at Bridgeport, Connecticut, this 20th day of January 2017.
/s/ Victor A. Bolden
Victor A. Bolden
United States District Judge
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?