Rogers v. Lamont et al
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER. For the reasons stated in the attached ruling, Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment conditions-of-confinement claim (related to allegations of extreme heat in his cell) brought against Warden Long in her individual capacity sh all proceed for further development of the record. All other claims are dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) and/or (2). The Clerk of Court kindly is instructed to verify the current work address for Warden Long with the Department of Correction Office of Legal Affairs, to mail to her at that confirmed address a waiver of service of process request packet containing the Complaint and this Order, and to send copies of this Order as further specified in the attached. It is so ordered. Signed by Judge Omar A. Williams on 05/18/23. (Codeanne, K.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
NED LAMONT, et al.,
Civil No. 3:22-cv-820 (OAW)
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
Self-represented plaintiff Wayne Rogers (“Mr. Rogers” or “Plaintiff”) has filed a
complaint (ECF No. 1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the defendants, Governor
Ned Lamont (“Governor Lamont”), Warden Devonia Long (“Warden Long”), and
Commissioner Doe1 (collectively “Defendants”). Mr. Rogers alleges the defendants have
violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights through their deliberate indifference to certain
conditions of confinement. For the following reasons, the court dismisses the complaint
in part but permits Plaintiff to proceed with a Fourteenth Amendment conditions of
confinement claim against Warden Long.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court must review prisoner civil complaints and
dismiss any portion that “(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which
Commissioner Doe is listed as a defendant in the body, but not captioning, of the complaint. ECF No. 1
at ¶¶ 1, 3. Because Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, the court construes the complaint as naming Commissioner
Doe as a defendant. See Gonzalez-Torres v. Roy, 3:19-cv-1139 (VAB), 2020 WL 5994960 at *1 n.1 (D.
Conn. Oct. 9, 2020) (“Courts have found pro se complaints to sufficiently plead claims against defendants
not named in the caption when there are adequate factual allegations to establish that the plaintiff intended
them as defendants.” (citation omitted)).
relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief.” See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)–(2). Although highly detailed allegations are
not required, the Complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the Court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678. This plausibility standard is not a “probability requirement” but imposes a
standard higher than “a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id.
In undertaking this analysis, the court must “draw all reasonable inferences in [the
plaintiff’s] favor, assume all well-pleaded factual allegations to be true, and determine
whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Faber v. Metro Life Ins. Co.,
648 F.3d 98, 104 (2d Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). However, the court
is “not bound to accept conclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as
factual conclusions,” id., and “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Consequently, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements
of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Ultimately, “[d]etermining whether a complaint states a
plausible claim for relief will … be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court
to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 679.
With respect to pro se litigants, it is well-established that “[p]ro se submissions are
reviewed with special solicitude, and ‘must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise
the strongest arguments that they suggest.’” Matheson v. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Tr. Co.,
706 F. App’x 24, 26 (2d Cir. 2017) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d
471, 474 (2d Cir. 3006) (per curiam)). See also Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007) (“A 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.’” (internal citations omitted)). This liberal approach, however, does
not exempt pro se litigants from the minimum pleading requirements described above: a
pro se complaint still must “‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Mancuso
v. Hynes, 379 F. App’x 60, 61 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Therefore,
even in a pro se case, “threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported
by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice,” Chavis v. Chappius, 618 F.3d 162, 170
(2d Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted), and the court may not
“invent factual allegations” that the plaintiff has not pleaded. Id.
During the events alleged in the complaint, Plaintiff was held as a pretrial detainee
at Hartford Correctional Center (“HCC”). ECF No. 1 at 2. Plaintiff’s Complaint states that
on June 30, 2021, Governor Lamont signed an executive order (“Executive Order 21-1”)
requiring the Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”) to implement measures that
generally would decrease the use of isolated confinement and in-cell restraints and that
would increase inmate visitation opportunities. Id. at 3 ¶ 2; ECF No. 1-1 at 2—3.
After Governor Lamont’s executive order went into effect, HCC officials
implemented weekly “lockdowns” affecting HCC’s general inmate population. ECF No. 1
at 3 ¶ 4. These lockdowns ran from Friday to Sunday and were in effect for a least eight
hours on one day and 24 hours the remaining two days. Id. Under lockdown, HCC
inmates are not afforded any opportunity visit with non-inmates or leave their cell. Id. at
3—4 ¶ 5.
Plaintiff also alleges that HCC’s cells are poorly ventilated and, in the summer,
consistently 20 degrees warmer than the outside weather.
Id. at 4 ¶¶ 6—7.
summertime temperature of Plaintiff’s cell can exceed 100 degrees. Id. ¶ 8. Plaintiff must
endure this oppressive heat within his cell, without a fan, for at least 16 hours a day. Id.
at 4—5 ¶¶ 8, 11. Plaintiff does, however, have access to water in his cell. Id. at 4 ¶ 8.
Plaintiff indicates he brought HCC’s weekend lock down practices and oppressive
summertime cell temperatures to the attention of the wardens and the lieutenants, and
that he was told that “it’s summer” and that “officers like their weekends off.” Id. ¶ 9.2
Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code creates a private federal cause
of action against any person, acting under color of state law, who deprives an individual
of their federally-protected rights. Rehberg v. Paulk, 566 U.S. 356, 361 (2012). In this
case, Plaintiff brings § 1983 claims asserting that the defendants violated his Fourteenth
Amendment due process rights through their deliberate indifference to his oppressive
conditions of confinement. ECF No. 1 at 5 ¶ 12. To remedy the alleged violations of his
due process rights, Plaintiff seeks punitive damages and injunctive relief. Id. ¶¶ 1—5.
Plaintiff neither specifies how he brought his conditions of confinement to Warden Long’s attention, nor
who responded to complaints he says he raised to the wardens and the lieutenants. ECF No. 1 at 4 ¶ 9.
To prevail in a § 1983 suit, a plaintiff must establish not only a violation of their
federally-protected rights, but also the “personal involvement” of a named defendant.
Wright v. Smith, 21 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). When assessing the
sufficiency of a defendant’s alleged involvement, the United States Court of Appeals for
the Second Circuit has recognized that “a plaintiff may not rely on a special test for
supervisory liability.” Tangreti v. Bachmann, 983 F.3d 609, 616 (2d Cir. 2020). Thus, “a
plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official's own
individual actions, has violated” their federally-protected rights. Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 676).
In this case, Plaintiff brings § 1983 claims against HCC’s warden, DOC’s
Commissioner, and the Governor of Connecticut. Plaintiff appears to sue Commissioner
Doe on the theory that he or she appointed Warden Long and generally is responsible for
overseeing the operations of DOC facilities. ECF No. 1 at 3. Significantly, Plaintiff does
not allege that Commissioner Doe was aware of the alleged conditions of confinement
giving rise to his claims. Without such an allegation, Plaintiff has not pled sufficient facts
supporting an inference that Commissioner Doe personally was involved in any presumed
violation of his rights. See Richardson v. Goord, 347 F.3d 431, 435 (2d Cir. 2003) (“[M]ere
linkage in the prison chain of command is insufficient to implicate a state commissioner
of corrections or a prison superintendent in a § 1983 claim.”) (Internal quotation marks
and citation omitted)).
Plaintiff’s Complaint cites Governor Lamont’s involvement by virtue his enactment
of an executive order. However, Plaintiff does not contend that Governor Lamont violated
his constitutional rights through enactment of the executive order. Rather, he contends
that HCC officials violated his constitutional rights by failing to comply with that order.
Thus, Plaintiff appears to sue Governor Lamont on the theory that, as governor, he
inherently is liable for the constitutional torts of subordinate state officials. Because
respondeat superior liability does not exist in the context of § 1983 litigation, see Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 676, the Complaint does not plead facts supporting an inference that
Governor Lamont personally was involved in any presumed violation of Plaintiff’s rights.
In contrast to Commissioner Doe and Governor Lamont, it is reasonable to assume
that, as HCC’s warden, Defendant Long was aware of and implicitly sanctioned the
alleged practice of “locking down” HCC’s entire general inmate population during
weekends. Likewise, it is reasonable to infer that Warden Long must have been aware
of any excessively hot conditions in the cells of HCC inmates during the summertime.
Because the Complaint’s allegations permit an inference that Warden Long implemented
or tolerated allegedly unconstitutional policies or customs, Plaintiff has alleged sufficient
facts to permit an inference that Warden Long personally was involved in the alleged
constitutional violations. See Stone #1 v. Annucci, 2021 WL 4463033 at *8 (S.D.N.Y.
Sept. 28, 2021) (“[W]here a plaintiff can establish that a senior official promulgated an
unconstitutional policy with a culpable mental state … such official could be deemed to
be personally involved in a constitutional violation.”)
In sum, the Complaint alleges facts permitting an inference that Warden Long
personally was involved in the alleged violations of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights.
However, he has not alleged facts sufficient to establish Commissioner Doe’s or Governor
Lamont’s personal involvement. Consequently, all claims brought against Commissioner
Doe and against Governor Lamont are dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
Conditions of Confinement Claims
In order to adequately plead a violation of due process pursuant to the Fourteenth
Amendment, based on alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement, a pretrial
detainee must satisfy "objective" and "mens rea" elements of a claim. Darnell v. Pineiro,
849 F.3d 17, 29 (2d Cir. 2017). With respect to the objective element, the court has
recognized that “prisoners may not be deprived of their basic human needs—e.g., food,
clothing, shelter, medical care, and reasonable safety—and they may not be exposed to
conditions that pose an unreasonable risk of serious damage to [their] future health.” Id.
at 30. Subjectively, a detainee-plaintiff must show that a defendant-official: (1) “acted
intentionally to impose [an] alleged condition”; or (2) “recklessly failed to act with
reasonable care to mitigate the risk that the condition posed to the pretrial detainee even
though the defendant-official knew, or should have known, that the condition posed an
excessive risk to health or safety.” Id. at 36.
Plaintiff contends that Warden Long violated his due process rights by subjecting
him to weekly “lockdowns” that lasted three days per a week. Under “lockdown” Plaintiff
was not permitted to leave his cell or participate in visitations with friends or family.
Inmates—sentenced and unsentenced—do have a basic need for out-of-cell
exercise/recreation time. Williams v. Greifinger, 97 F.3d 699, 704 n.5 (2d Cir. 1996).
However, “the Due Process Clause does not guarantee [pretrial detainees] a ‘general
liberty interest in movement outside of [a] cell.’” Quint v. Lamont, 3:22-cv-1263 (VAB),
2022 WL 17487978 at *6 (D. Conn. Dec. 6, 2022) (quoting Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d
1422, 1430 (7th Cir. 1996).
In his complaint, Mr. Rogers indicates that he is not permitted to leave his cell at
all during at least two of the three days in a weekend lockdown (Friday through Sunday).
ECF No. 1 at 3 ¶ 4. The Complaint specifically states that “if not for the entire day, then
at least [e]ight hours one day then the entire rest of the days.” Id. Therefore, on one of
the three days, the lockdown may be in place for only part of the day. On non-lockdown
days, Plaintiff asserts that he must remain in his cell for at least 16 hours. Id. at 4 ¶ 11.
Thus, Plaintiff presumably is free to leave his cell for up to eight hours on non-lockdown
days. And, based on the allegations in the Complaint, Plaintiff is permitted to leave his
cell for at least 40 hours per a week. While out of his cell, Plaintiff does not contend that
he is deprived of opportunities to exercise or recreate.
Plaintiff has not alleged a
deprivation of a basic human need regarding recreation outside of his cell. See Quint,
2022 WL 17487978 at *6 (repeated but temporary facility “lockdowns” deemed not to have
violated a pretrial detainee’s due process rights).
With respect to visitation limitations, Plaintiff alleges that he was denied visitation
opportunities only when the HCC facility was under “lockdown,” and that HCC was only
under lockdown during weekends (Friday through Sunday). ECF No. 1 at 3—4 ¶¶ 4—5.
The Due Process Clause does not prohibit state officials from placing significant limits on
the abilities of pretrial detainees to visit with friends and family. See Black v. Rutherford,
468 U.S. 576, 586—87, 589 (1984) (county jail's blanket prohibition against contact visits
between pretrial detainees and family and friends held not to violate the Due Process
Clause). Plaintiff was permitted visitation opportunities on weekdays and he has failed to
allege facts sufficient to establish deprivation of a basic human need.
The alleged conditions of confinement created by HCC’s weekend lockdowns did
not rise to the level of the requisite objective deprivation. Accordingly, all condition of
confinement claims related to such lockdowns are dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
Extreme Cell Temperature
The Complaint alleges that Warden Long violated the plaintiff’s due process rights
by requiring him to remain in a poorly-ventilated jail cell for at least 16 hours per day. ECF
No. 1 at 4—5 ¶ 11. On some days, Plaintiff was required to remain in his cell all day, id.
at 3 ¶ 4, and the temperature in Plaintiff’s cell periodically exceeded one hundred degrees.
Id. at 4 ¶ 8.
Plaintiff’s pleading satisfies the objective requirement of a conditions of
confinement claim with respect to this allegation. See Walker v. Schult, 717 F.3d 119,
126 (2d Cir. 2013) (“[I]t is well settled that exposing prisoners to extreme temperatures
without adequate ventilation may violate the Eighth Amendment.”). Evaluation of whether
Plaintiff has adequately pled the mens rea element of this claim presents a more difficult
If Warden Long had no reason to think that Plaintiff was exposed to extreme heat
in his cell, then she would not have acted, or failed to act, with a culpable mental state.
See Darnell, 849 F. 3d at 36 (“A detainee must prove that an official acted intentionally or
recklessly, and not merely negligently.”) In the complaint, Plaintiff appears to contend
that his cell’s temperature was “brought to the Wardens . . . attention.” ECF No. 1 at 4 ¶
9. However, this assertion is vague. Plaintiff does not specify how Warden Long was
made aware of his cell’s excessive heat, nor that Warden Long, specifically, was notified
of the condition.
Had Plaintiff alleged a condition of confinement that uniquely affected him, his
allegations may have failed to state sufficient facts satisfying the mens rea element of his
due process claim. However, Plaintiff alleges that all of HCC’s cells were unreasonably
hot in the summertime. ECF No. 1 at 4 ¶¶ 6—8. At this initial pleading stage, it is
reasonable to infer that a warden is aware of persistent, notable conditions of confinement
applicable to all inmates in his or her custody. See Rogers v. Lamont, 3:21-cv-1722
(OAW), 2022 WL 16855969 at *4—5 (D. Conn. Nov. 10, 2022).
Plaintiff adequately has pled a claim that Warden Long violated his due process
rights by intentionally or recklessly exposing him to extreme heat within his cell. This
claim will proceed for further development of the record.
Executive Order Violation Claims
The complaint could be construed as an attempt to bring claims for violations of
Governor Lamont’s executive order.
However, section 1983 claims must allege a
violation of federally-protected rights. See Rehberg, 566 U.S. at 361. Further, the courts
in this District previously have determined that the executive order implicated in this case
(Executive Order 21-1) creates no private right of action. See Quint, 2022 WL 17487978
at *3. The court concludes that to the extent Plaintiff claims a violation of Governor
Lamont’s executive order, he fails to state a claim. Accordingly, any such claims hereby
are dismissed. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
Official Capacity Claims and Injunctive Relief
Plaintiff attempts to assert claims against Defendants in their official capacities.3 It
is well settled that the Eleventh Amendment and related principles of state sovereign
immunity generally divest the federal courts of jurisdiction over lawsuits brought by private
citizens against the state, any state government entities, and any state government
officials in their official capacities. See generally Lewis v. Clarke, 581 U.S. 155, 161—62
(2017); T.W. v. New York State Bd. of Law Examiners, 996 F.3d 87, 92 (2d Cir. 2021).
While it is true that the state may waive this immunity and that Congress may abrogate it,
Plaintiff does not allege that the State of Connecticut has waived its sovereign immunity
from suit in federal court. Nor has Congress abrogated state sovereign immunity with the
enactment of section 1983. See Salu v. Miranda, 830 F. App’x 341, 347 (2d Cir. 2020)
(citing Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 338—5 (1979)). Thus, as all defendants are state
officials, Plaintiff cannot obtain damages from any of them for official-capacity conduct.
The Supreme Court has recognized an exception to Eleventh Amendment
immunity that permits a federal court to grant an order of prospective injunctive relief
against a state official for an ongoing violation of federal law. Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S.
123, 156 (1908). Although Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief in the form of fans for inmate
cells at HCC, ECF No. 1 at 5 ¶ 3, on April 10, 2023, he filed a notice of a change of
address indicating that he is no longer incarcerated at HCC4, ECF. No. 15. Thus, his
requests for injunctive relief are moot. See See Booker v. Graham, 974 F.3d 101, 107
The Complaint specifically names Governor Lamont and Warden Long in both their individual and official
capacities, ECF No.1 at 2.
The court takes judicial notice of the Connecticut DOC website, which reflects that Plaintiff was sentenced
on June 29, 2022, and is currently serving a prison sentence at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional. See
http://www.ctinmateinfo.state.ct.us/detailsupv.asp?id_inmt_num=323651 (last visited May 18, 2023).
(2d Cir. 2020) (“‘In this circuit, an inmate's transfer from a prison facility generally moots
claims for declaratory and injunctive relief against officials of that facility.’”) (Quoting
Salahuddin v. Goord, 467 F.3d 263, 272 (2d Cir. 2006)).
All claims against defendants in their official capacities, including any claims for
injunctive relief, hereby are DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) and (2).
The court enters the following orders:
(1) The Fourteenth Amendment conditions-of-confinement claim brought against
Warden Long in her individual capacity shall PROCEED, to the extent that it relates to
extreme heat in Plaintiff’s cell.
(2) The Fourteenth Amendment conditions-of-confinement claim brought against
Warden Long is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), to the extent that it
relates to conditions of confinement arising from weekend lockdowns.
(3) All claims brought for alleged violations of an executive order issued by
Governor Lamont, and all claims brought against Defendants in their official capacities
are DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) and (2).
(4) Therefore, all claims brought against Governor Lamont and Commissioner Doe
are DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) and (2). The Clerk of Court
respectfully is directed to please TERMINATE Governor Lamont as a party to this action
(Commissioner Doe previously had not been entered as a defendant in this action and,
therefore, need not be terminated).
(5) Plaintiff’s requests for injunctive relief are DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
(6) Should Plaintiff wish to amend his Complaint, he may file a motion for leave to
amend within thirty (30) days from the date of this Order.
(7) The Clerk shall please verify the current work address for Warden Long with
the DOC Office of Legal Affairs; mail to her at her confirmed address, within twenty-one
(21) days of this Order, a waiver of service of process request packet (containing the
Complaint and this order); and, on the thirty-fifth (35th) day after mailing, report on the
status of the waiver request. If Warden Long fails to return the waiver request, the Clerk
is instructed to please make arrangements for in-person individual-capacity service on
Warden Long by the United States Marshals Service, and Warden Long shall be required
to pay the costs of such service in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d).
(8) The Clerk shall please mail a courtesy copy of the Complaint and this Order to
the DOC Office of Legal Affairs, and to the Office of the Attorney General.
(9) Warden Long shall please file her response to the complaint (either an answer,
or a motion to dismiss), within sixty (60) days from the date the notice of lawsuit and the
waiver of service of summons forms are mailed to her. If Warden Long chooses to file an
answer, she shall admit or deny the allegations and respond to the cognizable claims
recited above, please. Warden Long also may include any and all additional defenses
permitted by the Federal Rules.
(10) Discovery, according to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 26—37, shall be
completed within six months (180 days) from the date of this Order. Discovery requests
shall not be filed with the court.
(11) All motions for summary judgment shall be filed within seven months (210
days) from the date of this Order.
(12) The parties must comply with the District of Connecticut “Standing Order Re:
Initial Discovery Disclosures” which will be sent to the parties by the Clerk.
(13) If Plaintiff changes his address at any time during the litigation of this case,
Local Court Rule 83.1(c)2 provides that he MUST notify the court. Failure to do so can
result in the dismissal of the case. Plaintiff must give notice of a new address even if he
is incarcerated. He 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 Plaintiff has more than one pending case, he should please indicate all of the
case numbers in the notification of change of address. He should also notify Defendants
or defense counsel of his new address.
(14) While incarcerated, Plaintiff shall use the Prisoner Electronic Filing Program
when filing documents with the court. He is advised that the Program only may be used
to file documents with the court (not discovery requests).
D. Conn. L. Civ. R 5(f).
Discovery requests must be served on Defendant’s counsel by regular mail.
IT IS SO ORDERED at Hartford, Connecticut, this 18th day of May, 2023.
OMAR A. WILLIAMS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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