Harnage v. Pillai et al
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER Discovery due by 10/26/2017 Dispositive Motions due by 11/25/2017 Signed by Judge Alvin W. Thompson on 3/27/2017.(Payton, R.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
JAMES A. HARNAGE,
OMPRAKASH PILLAI, et al.,
: Civil No. 3:17-cv-355 (AWT)
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
The plaintiff, James A. Harnage, who is currently
incarcerated at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in
Uncasville, Connecticut, has filed a complaint pro se, pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The plaintiff names as defendants Dr.
Omprakash Pillai, Dr. David Giles, Lisa Caldonero, P.A. Rob, and
The plaintiff alleges that the defendants
retaliated against him.
Defendants Pillai, Giles and Lightner
are named in individual and official capacities.
defendants are named in individual capacity only.
was received by the court on February 28, 2017.
motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on March 20,
Under section 1915A of title 28 of the United States Code,
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
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).
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 right to relief.
U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).
Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550
Conclusory allegations are not
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.
document filed pro se is to be liberally construed and a pro se
complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.’”
Boykin v. KeyCorp., 521 F.3d 202, 214 (2d Cir. 2008) (quoting
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)).
Following a bout of chronic constipation, the plaintiff
developed a severe hemorrhoid and an abdominal hernia.
required surgical correction.
When the plaintiff’s requests for
surgery were ignored, he pursued legal action against the
defendants for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.
When the plaintiff asked defendant Rob to speak to Dr.
Pillai about a prescription renewal, defendant Rob asked why he
should help the plaintiff because he would just be named in a
When the plaintiff asked defendant Caldonero to speak
with the doctor, she asked whether the request was to enable the
plaintiff to sue her.
In October 2014 and February 2016, the plaintiff underwent
surgical repair of his hemorrhoid, and in September 2015,
surgical repair of the hernia.
Following each procedure, the
defendants permitted conditions to exist that deprived the
plaintiff of adequate post-operative care.
assumes that these actions were taken in retaliation for his
filing lawsuits and grievances.
Following the hemorrhoid surgery, defendant Giles refused
to provide the plaintiff with a prescription for various items
needed to clean the surgical area, compress dressings, and a
Defendant Giles also did not order the
plaintiff returned to the correctional facility in a separate
Defendants Rob and Caldonero refused to
request a prescription from any doctor for these items and pain
Defendant Pillai reduced the dosage of pain
medication that had been prescribed by defendant Giles and also
reduced the frequency of pain medication doses and the length of
the prescription. In addition, instead of delivering the
medication to the plaintiff’s cell, the defendants required him
to walk to the medical unit, about a quarter mile, to get the
Following the hernia surgery, immediately after the
plaintiff complained about a surgical intern, defendant Giles
approved his discharge two days before the medically recommended
Defendant Giles also approved the early removal
of surgical staples and drain tubes.
These actions retarded the
Defendant Pillai discharged the plaintiff
early from the facility infirmary, removed a PIC line,
discontinued antibiotics and a secondary pain medication,
changed his primary pain medication to something less effective,
and reduced the length of the prescription because the plaintiff
wanted to go to his cell to retrieve legal documents.
The plaintiff brought these issues to defendant Lightner’s
attention but she ignored his complaints and failed to correct
any of the conditions.
The plaintiff named Drs. Pillai and Giles and Rikel
Lightner in both individual and official capacities.
he seeks only damages for relief.
The Eleventh Amendment
divests the district court of subject matter jurisdiction over
claims for money damages against state officials acting in their
official capacities unless the state has waived that immunity or
Congress has abrogated it.
159, 169 (1985).
See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S.
Section 1983 does not abrogate state sovereign
immunity, see Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 343 (1979), and the
plaintiff provides no evidence that Connecticut has waived that
Accordingly, all claims against defendants Pillai,
Giles and Lightner in their official capacities are dismissed.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(2) (requiring dismissal of claims
seeking “monetary relief from a defendant immune from such
Although the plaintiff identifies his only claim as
retaliation, he also included references to denial of access to
A review of the factual allegations shows no facts
supporting a claim for denial of access to the courts.
a claim for denial of access to the courts, the plaintiff must
demonstrate that the defendants acted deliberately and
maliciously and that he suffered an actual injury.
Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 353 (1996).
See Lewis v.
To establish an actual injury,
the plaintiff must allege facts showing that the defendants took
or were responsible for actions that hindered his efforts to
pursue a legal claim, prejudiced one of his existing actions or
otherwise actually interfered with his access to the courts.
See Monsky v. Moraghan, 127 F.3d 243, 247 (2d Cir. 2002).
plaintiff has alleged no facts supporting an actual injury.
Thus, any claims for denial of access to the courts are
dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
The plaintiff alleges that all of the defendants retaliated
against him for filing lawsuits and grievances.
To state a
claim for retaliation, the plaintiff must allege facts showing
that he was engaged in constitutionally protected activity, the
defendants took adverse action against him, and a causal
connection between the protected activity and the adverse
See Davis v. Goord, 320 F.3d 346, 352 (2d Cir. 2003).
To establish the causal connection, the plaintiff must show that
the protected activity “was a substantial or motivating factor
for the adverse action taken” against him.
Bennett v. Goord,
343 F.3d 133, 137 (2d Cir. 2003) (citation omitted).
retaliation claims are easily made, they are examined with
“skepticism and particular care.”
Davis, 320 F.3d at 352.
The plaintiff has alleged facts suggesting that the
defendants’ actions occurred after he exercised his First
Amendment rights by submitting complaints or grievances or
Temporal proximity between protected conduct
and adverse action is circumstantial evidence of retaliation.
See Faulk v. Fisher, 545 F. App’x 56, 58 (2d Cir. 2013).
the retaliation claims will proceed.
Any claims for denial of access to the courts are hereby
DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
against defendants Pillai, Giles and Lightner in their official
capacities are hereby DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
The case will proceed on the retaliation claims
against the defendants in their individual capacities.
The court enters the following orders:
The Clerk shall verify the current work addresses for
each defendant with the Department of Correction Office of Legal
Affairs, mail a waiver of service of process request packet
containing the Complaint to each defendant 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 thirtyfifth (35) day after mailing.
If any defendant fails to return
the waiver request, the Clerk shall make arrangements for inperson service by the U.S. Marshals Service on him 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 send written notice to the 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 order to the Connecticut Attorney General and the
Department of Correction Office of Legal Affairs.
The defendants shall file their response to the
complaint, either an answer or motion to dismiss, within sixty
(60) days from the date the waiver forms are sent.
choose to file an answer, they shall admit or deny the
allegations and respond to the cognizable claim recited above.
They also may include any and all additional defenses permitted
by the Federal Rules.
Discovery, pursuant to 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.
Pursuant to 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 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.
do so can result in the dismissal of the case.
must give notice of a new address even if he is incarcerated.
The plaintiff should write PLEASE NOTE MY NEW ADDRESS on the
It is not enough to just put the new address on a
letter without indicating that it is a new address.
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 any document with the court.
It is so ordered.
Signed this 27th day of March 2017 at Hartford,
Alvin W. Thompson
United States District Judge
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