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Morales v. Saba

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

February 12, 2016

MIGUEL A. MORALES
v.
SUPERINTENDENT JAMES SABA, et al. MIGUEL ANGEL MORALES, JR.
v.
CAROL HIGGINS O’BRIEN, et al.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS

Richard G. Stearns, United States District Judge.

For the reasons stated below, the court denies as moot the motion to proceed in forma pauperis pending in 15-13887; grants the defendants’ motion to dismiss the fourth amended complaint filed in 15-10732; and sua sponte dismisses (1) the claims against the five new defendants identified in the FAC in 15-10732 and (2) the three defendants identified in the complaint filed in 15-13887.

I. Background

A. The First Proceeding

1. Procedural Background

On March 6, 2015, Miguel A. Morales, a pro se plaintiff now incarcerated at the Souza Baranoskwi Correctional Center, filed a civil rights complaint against seven state correctional officials (defendants James Saba, Elena Clodius, Harold Wilkes, Kurt Demoura, Jessica Creighton, Marc McGlynn and David Moore) complaining of, among other things, due process violations during disciplinary proceedings. The case was randomly assigned to Magistrate Judge Boal pursuant to the court’s consent program. Less than one month later, Morales filed an Amended Complaint adding an eighth defendant, Rebecca Donahue.

By Memorandum and Order dated June 16, 2015, Morales was permitted to proceed in forma pauperis, was assessed an initial filing fee payment. His motion to add exhibits and for automatic judgment were denied and summons were issued for service of the amended complaint. The defendants consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction and moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim.

Morales’ motion for default and to amend were opposed by defendants. Although Morales initially consented to proceed before a Magistrate Judge on August 5, 2015, less than three months later, on October 26, 2015, he filed a conflicting form indicating that he did not wish to proceed before a Magistrate Judge. The following month, on November 3, 2015, Morales filed a motion seeking to amend the complaint to add Magistrate Judge Boal as a defendant in the case.

By Electronic Order dated November 10, 2015, Magistrate Judge Boal recused herself and the case was reassigned to the undersigned District Judge. On November 12, 2015, Morales’ fourth motion to amend was allowed and the fourth amended complaint (“fourth amended complaint” or “FAC”), dated October 30, 2015, was deemed the operative complaint.

On November 24, 2015, Morales filed a Motion for Joinder seeking to add the new defendants named in the fourth amended complaint and to have the clerk issue summons for service of process. By Electronic Order dated January 13, 2016, Morales’ Motion for Joinder was allowed to the extent that the parties were named in the FAC. The new parties named in the FAC are (1) Nancy White, DOC General Counsel; (2) Carol Higgins O’Brien, DOC Commissioner; (3) Nelson Julius, DOC correctional employee; (4) Yveline Simon, a mental health worker; and (5) Magistrate Judge Boal.

Now before the court are defendants’ (Saba, Clodius, Wilkes, Demoura, Creighton, McGlynn, Moore and Donahue) motion to dismiss and supporting memorandum. See Docket Nos. 71-72. In a footnote, the supporting memorandum notes that only three of the five new defendants are employed by the DOC. Those three defendants are Nancy White, Carol Higgins O’Brien, and Nelson Julius.

Also before the court are Morales’ Motion to Dismiss defendants’ responsive pleadings with supporting memorandum as well as Morales’ Motion for Default and Automatic Judgment. See Docket Nos. 76-78.

2. Factual Allegations

The following facts, taken as true for purposes of the motion to dismiss and §§ 1915, 1915A screening, are alleged in the FAC and begin with Morales’ placement in the Departmental Disciplinary Unit (DDU) at MCI Cedar Junction on September 8, 2014.[1] See 15-10732, Docket No. 50-1, p. 2.

Morales states that he was placed in the DDU for an assault on a staff member. Id. The following day, on September 9, 2014, Morales alleges that an officer informed him that “Lapriore says: Hi!” Id. Morales explains that he had previously complained that Chris F. Lapriore had threatened him and that he assaulted this officer while acting to defend himself. Id.

Morales alleges disciplinary reports are often used by correctional staff as a pretext to “seize his property” and on September 24, 2015, a disciplinary report issued with a false charge that he covered the cell window to darken the room. Id. at 4-5.

On or about October 21, 2014, Morales alleges that he was repeatedly taunted by officers and was then transferred to D-Wing cell 285. Id. at 3. Morales alleges that he was seen by a psychiatrist and transferred to Bridgewater State hospital because the psychiatrist claimed that Morales was “talking to himself.” Id. Morales alleges that on or about November 18, 2014, he was discharged from Bridgewater State Hospital and returned to the DDU, but required to speak with mental health workers. Id.

On December 17, 2014, in an effort to have the hallway camera “catch evidence that officers were actually tampering with his food, ” Morales struggled with Officer Daniel McGuire who was delivering a meal tray to him. Id. at 4. Morales alleges that excessive force was used against him when he was removed from his cell and placed on Awaiting Action status. Id. Morales alleges that an officer spoke to him “about being removed from his cell so that officers can seize his property as part of a practice known as DDU Awaiting Action status.” Id. At that time, Morales alleges that he “pointed out that there is no reason to remove him from the cell, because he had already given his tray.” Id. at 5. However, 30 minutes later, Morales again refused to cooperate with leaving his cell. Id. Morales “defend[ed] his property” and was ‘subdued and restrained and his property was seized including his legal work.” Id. Although Morales was advised that his property had been covered in urine, Morales contends that “the only spillage was coffee stains.” Id.

Morales alleges that there were other conditions of his incarceration that “caused him to be assaultive” such as a three-week period in 2013 when Morales was not given a shower. Id. at 3. On December 16, 2014, the day before Morales had been removed from his cell and placed on DDU Awaiting Action status, he had complained about a full-body rash that developed after he had showered in the DDU. Id. at 4. Morales refused to shower because of the rash he received from showering. Id. at 5. Morales was seen by a doctor who explained that the rash originated from chlorine in the water at MCI Cedar Junction and Morales was instructed to take cold showers and machine wash his clothes. Id. at 6. On occasion, Morales would receive cream to treat the rash, but he suffered in pain and didn’t receive enough cream to treat the rash that covered his 6’ 7” body. Id.

On or about January 8, 2015, Morales was advised that there were complaints that he smelled from body odor and he would be deemed as harming himself if he would not shower. Id. at 7. Morales explained that he would shower, but not in the DDU because of the rash that developed each time he showered in the DDU. Id. At this time, defendant McGlynn and another officer “instigated” Morales and caused “[him] to respond.” Id. Defendant McGlynn filed a disciplinary report that he was assaulted by the Morales. Id. Morales alleges that defendants Moore and McGlynn are responsible for destroying Morales’s property and failing to advise him of the condition of his property for a whole weekend. Id. at 23.

A few days later, on or about January 10, 2015, defendants Wilkes and Clodius “attempted to show the Plaintiff a memo from the Department of Correction regarding how the water was treated by the city.” Id. Morales ultimately complied with DDU procedure to be restrained by handcuffs in order to be showered. Id. at 8.

On January 14, 2015, Morales returned to his cell from the DDU and discovered that some of his property was missing and that a swastika was drawn on his cell mirror. Id. at 8. That day, Morales caused one, perhaps two, loud disruptions and subsequently agreed to be removed from his cell. Id.

Morales contends that “security status” is used for placement in the DDU as punishment and that “mental health status” is used by the mental health workers for placement in the DDU for suicidal prisoners as well as “punishment for arrogance.” Id. at 8. Morales explains that between January 8 and January 14, 2015, he was placed on mental health status and placed on suicide watch for refusing to shower. Id. at 10. During that time, he was placed on security status after becoming disruptive when two officers damages Morales’s property and left a swastika on his cell mirror. Id. Morales alleges that he was treated as if he was suicidal when placed on security status from January 17, 2015 through January 27, 2015. Id. at 9-10. Morales complains that for ten days he “was denied writing material, access to his legal work, a pen to file a grievance, utensils for food and the ability to sleep for more than an hour at a time [because the light was always on].” Id. at 10.

While on security status from January 17, 2015 through January 27, 2015, Morales alleges that he received legal mail from his attorney. Id. at 11. The letter from counsel explained that a brief was due and that Morales could either attend a video conference pro se or have his attorney proceed. Id. Morales explains that a year earlier, in December 2014, he had challenged appellee’s brief on several grounds. Id. Morales states that he wanted to avoid the video conference and that the attorney did not specify a time for the video conference. Id. Morales wanted to appear in court “to point out how he was treated and why he wanted to avoid the video conference.” Id.

Morales complains that on or about January 29, 2015, he was “forced to act with the court directly because it will be too time consuming for him [to] address the ‘immediate deadline’ to which he had asked about and had not received an answer.” Id. Morales alleges that “the Appeals Court had called Defendant Clodius whom informed the Morales that he was due for a video conference, but to where the Morales still was not informed of when the video conference was.” Id. at 12. Morales alleges that “at least one Defendant knew about Plaintiff’s Appeal.” Id. Morales alleges that unspecified actions of the defendants “compromised his criminal conviction appeal.” Id. at 13. Morales alleges that on Jun 16, 2015, he “received a letter from his attorney that he lost his criminal conviction Appeal.” Id. at 15. In connection with his criminal prosecution, Morales alleges, among other things, that “there was no proof that the Plaintiff was not attacked [and that is why he was convicted] “because of his skin color.” Id. at 22.

Morales complains that Defendant McGlynn moved him from Wing A1 to Wing B1 on February 20, 2015, and failed to transfer most of Morales’s property. Id. at 12-13. Morales alleges that he was subsequently informed by Defendant Clodius that his property “was deemed to be covered in urine and/or feces, and he had found out that all of his legal work and art books and magazines were destroyed.” Id. at 13. Almost one week later, on February 26, 2016, Morales “received a disciplinary report regarding the destruction of a state issued mattress and his property.” Id. Morales asserts that “he did not urinate on his property” and then wrote a civil complaint that was filed in the instant civil action. Id. At his disciplinary hearing, Morales explained to Defendant Donahue that he “didn’t destroy the mattress or his property, ” “the cops are lying, ” and that urine is not an acid [and that it is] impossible for [plaintiff’s] urine to destroy a mattress.” Id. at 13-14.

On March 24, 2015, Morales “received a guilty finding for the accusation of destroying his property and a state issued mattress.” Id. at 14. The following day, on March 25, 2015, Morales “wrote another civil complaint to verify his first complaint.” Id. On March 29, 2015, Morales “sent copies of his Disciplinary Report Appeal to Defendants James Saba and Elena Clodius.” Id. at 15.

In connection with his disciplinary proceedings, Morales complains that defendant Rebecca Donahue “attempts to show that state regulations allow her to be biased [by using a summarized statement] to support [her disciplinary finding].” Id. at 21. Morales complains that defendants Wilkes, DeMoura and Creighton violated the regulations concerning disciplinary proceedings. Id. at 23-26. Morales contends that “through state law” he is “entitled to receive rehabilitation” from the defendants, as “staff member[s] of the Department of Correction.” Id. at 29. Morales argues that his “DDU sanction is proof that the method of rehabilitation offered by the Department of Correction is insufficient.” Id. at 30.

Morales complains that defendant DOC counsel Sheryl Grant and Nancy White “libeled the plaintiff” when they suggested in pleadings that the relief Morales sought “would pose safety and security risks.” Id. at 18-19. Morales also complains that these defendants “attempted to justify” the actions of other defendants in “falsely or wrongly accus[ing] the plaintiff, “destroy[ing] the plaintiff’s legal work, ” and “compromise[ing] his arguments (that of which had involved case law) for his criminal conviction Appeal.” Id. at 19.

In connection with Morales’s “argument against the separation of male and female prisoners, ” he complains that the defendants “fail to accommodate religion and forces the Morales to adhere to a foreign religious belief, to deny him the ability to social interaction and assembly, as an extension of his imprisonment, of where there is nothing in his sentence to imprisonment, that says, that he must adhere to the principles of a penitentiary, in violation of the First, Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.” Id. at 22, 36.

Morales contends that defendants Saba, Clodius, Wilker, Nelson and McGlynn, by prompting defendant Simon to place Morales on suicide watch for not showing, to avoid another chlorine rash, these defendants used the suicide unit to punish and control prisoners in violation of the United States Constitution. Id. at 22-23. Morales contends that he was denied access to the court during the periods he was placed on mental health status from 1/8 through 1/14/15 and security status from 1/17/15 through 1/27/15; particularly when he was unaware of a video conference scheduled for his criminal conviction Appeal. Id. at 23. He complains that defendant Saba’s enforcement “of DDU Awaiting [Action] Status [allowed officers to seize his property] including legal work, as a result of receiving [discipline] prior to the report being given, that allowed defendants David Moore and marc McGlynn to think that it was okay to seize the Morales’s property and be silent for three days.” Id. at 23. Morales contends that this caused a violation of his access to the courts because it was a time when he “needed to act as h[is] own counsel” and his legal papers were allegedly destroyed by defendants Moore and McGlynn. Id. at 23. Morales alleges that he has a constitutional “right to be secure in himself and his property against unreasonable searches and seizures [including random searches and searches outside his presence involving his legal work].” Id. at 32.

Morales contends that he should not “be denied pornography [based upon] the actions of other prisoners [especially because he does not have a history of improper use of pornography and other property]. Id. at 33-34. He contends that “the laws against tattooing, fornication and pornography must be repealed so as to not accommodate religion, and unless they have proof that the Morales has compromised security and/or safety in a similarly situated environment.” Id. at 37.

Morales contends that it is through Judge “Boal’s actions that the Plaintiff’s Second Complaint (Docket No. 5) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted . . . .” Id. at 39. Morales seeks to challenge several of magistrate Judge Boal’s rulings, id. at 40-41, and argues that she “has compromised this civil action so much that she had also interfered with the Plaintiff’s ability to receive reliefs (sic) from a default judgment.” Id. at 43. Morales further complains that defendants Grant and White “have not shown how the Plaintiff will use his reliefs to undermine security of the prison and where Defendants Grant and White have not explained how the United States Constitution does not support the Plaintiff’s reliefs.” Id. at 47.

Morales’s formal prayer for relief begins on page 55 of the FAC, however, the seven prior pages contain a wide array of “facts” and “claims” ranging from an assertion that all defendants compromised Morales's life because he may have to pay a filing fee and remain separate from female inmates, some assertion that the “three strike” law must be repealed, a discussion of how it is the fault of prison and society that people commit crimes, and an assertion that inmates must be able to create miniature pieces of art work to sell and export around the world, “which would help the United States get out of debt.” Id. at 48-55.

In the remainder of the FAC, Morales undertakes to recount everything he claims to have ever done in this case, everything the magistrate purportedly did, and a description of claims that he ...


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