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Hinds v. Pepe

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

April 25, 2016

COREY HINDS, Plaintiff,
v.
PETER A. PEPE, JR., THOMAS E. DICKHAUT, JAMES J. SABA, JOHN L. DEAN, and ROBERT E. STORK, Defendants.

ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS (DOC. NO. 31)

LEO T. SOROKIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Corey Hinds (“Hinds”) brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Peter A. Pepe, Jr. (“Pepe”), former Deputy Commissioner of Correction; Thomas E. Dickhaut (“Dickhaut”), Deputy Commissioner for Operations; James J. Saba (“Saba”), Superintendent of MCI-Cedar Junction; and John L. Dean (“Dean”) and Robert E. Stork (“Stork”), both of whom are correction officers at MCI-Cedar Junction (collectively, the “Defendants”). Doc. No. 1. Hinds, who is incarcerated and proceeding pro se, sued the Defendants in their individual and official capacities alleging that they violated his rights under the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and under various provisions of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. Id. All of the Defendants except for Pepe, who has not been served, have moved to dismiss. Doc. No. 31. Hinds opposes their motion. Doc. Nos. 44; 44-1. For the reasons stated below, the Court ALLOWS the motion in part and DENIES the motion in part.

II. BACKGROUND

The facts are recited as they are alleged in the complaint. Hinds was incarcerated at MCI Concord while awaiting trial on unspecified charges. Doc. No. 1 ¶ 11. On March 12, 2013, Hinds allegedly assaulted a correction officer. Id. ¶ 12. Immediately thereafter, Hinds was issued a disciplinary report, transferred to MCI Shirley and referred to the Department Disciplinary Unit (“DDU”). Id. ¶ 13. Special Hearing Officer Mark Reilly (“Reilly”) conducted a hearing on August 7, 2013 at which Hinds was represented by a student attorney. Id. ¶¶ 14-15. Reilly determined that Hinds was guilty and issued his findings. Id. ¶ 16; Doc. No. 44-4. Reilly sanctioned Hinds by placing him in the DDU for 42 months. Doc. No. 44-4 at 4. Hinds’s attorney lodged an appeal, which Defendant Pepe denied. Doc. Nos. 1 ¶¶ 18-19; 44-6.

On October 31, 2013, Hinds, still a pretrial detainee, was transferred to MCI Cedar Junction. Doc. No. 1 ¶ 20. Hinds filed several grievances related to his placement in the DDU, all of which were denied by Defendants Stork and Saba. Id. 1 ¶¶ 21-22; Doc. Nos. 44-7, 44-8, 44-9. On November 19, 2013, Defendant Dean sprayed Hinds with a chemical agent known as “O.C.” while Hinds was confined to his cell. Doc. No. 1 ¶ 26. Consequently, Hinds, whose asthmatic condition is documented in his medical records, was unable to breathe and was “momentarily unresponsive due to his medical complications with asthma.” Id. ¶¶ 26-27. Hinds’s grievance regarding this conduct was denied. Id. ¶¶ 49-50.

On April 16, 2014, Hinds was sentenced to a term in state prison “for separate court matters, ” presumably the charges pending against him when he was a pretrial detainee. Id. ¶ 28. Hinds was once again placed in MCI Cedar Junction, this time in the Department Segregation Unit (“DSU”).

Id. ¶ 29. On May 1, 2014, Hinds was returned to the DDU to serve the remainder of his 42-month sanction. Id. ¶ 31.

The remainder of Hinds’s allegations concern his access to counsel and documents related to his state criminal case. Hinds made several requests and filed a grievance seeking to obtain his copy of Black’s Law Dictionary. Id. ¶¶ 33, 35. Stork denied his grievance. Id. ¶ 36. Hinds’s attorney was denied access to Hinds, and Hinds did not receive mail sent to him by his attorney. Id. ¶¶ 38-39. Hinds’s grievances regarding his access to the courts, receipt of mail, and assistance of counsel were denied. Id. ¶¶ 43-46, 53-54.

Hinds brings eleven counts against some or all of the Defendants. Counts I and II allege that Hinds was denied procedural due process under the Fourteenth Amendment and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights due to (1) his unlawful detainment in the DDU; (2) the Defendants’ failure to consider housing alternatives; and (3) the lack of a DSU Board hearing pursuant to 103 C.M.R. 421. Id. ¶¶ 61-63, 73-75. Counts III and IV claim that Hinds was deprived of substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment and the Declaration of Rights due to the allegedly punitive nature of his placement in the DDU as a pretrial detainee and as a sentenced inmate. Id. ¶¶ 79-81, 89-90, 93. Counts V and VI allege that Mass. Gen. L. c. 276, § 52, which permits the transfer to state custody of a pretrial detainee who has previously served a felony sentence in a Massachusetts state prison, violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and certain provisions of the Declaration of Rights. Id. ¶¶ 97-99, 109. Counts VII and VIII allege that Dean’s use of the C.O. chemical spray constituted excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment, the Declaration of Rights, and 103 C.M.R 505. Id. ¶¶ 113-117, 129. Count IX claims that Hinds was deprived of his Fifth Amendment right to present a defense. Id. ¶¶ 133-34, 136. Count X alleges that Hinds’s placement in the DDU deprived him of the right to effective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment. Id. ¶¶ 140-41. Finally, Count XI is for intentional infliction of emotional distress as a result of Hinds’s allegedly unlawful confinement to the DDU. Id. ¶ 147. Hinds seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief in the form of release into the general prison population and deletion of the DDU sanction from his prison record. Id. ¶ 151.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

A complaint will withstand a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) only if it contains sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim for relief 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)). The Court must “take all factual allegations as true and . . . draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Rodríguez-Ortiz v. Margo Caribe, Inc., 490 F.3d 92, 96 (1st Cir. 2007). The complaint need not contain “detailed factual allegations, ” but it must set forth “more than labels and conclusions, . . . and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. A plaintiff fails to state a claim when he does not proffer “factual allegations, either direct or inferential, respecting each material element necessary to sustain recovery under some actionable legal theory.” Berner v. Delahanty, 129 F.3d 20, 25 (1st Cir. 1997) (quoting Gooley v. Mobil Oil Corp., 851 F.2d 513, 515 (1st Cir. 1988)). While the filings of pro se litigants should be liberally construed, see Ahmed v. Rosenblatt, 118 F.3d 886, 890 (1st Cir.1997), pro se litigants are not excused from compliance with procedural rules or substantive law. Id.

In determining whether Hinds has stated a claim, the Court may consider documents to which Hinds refers in his complaint, including the exhibits attached thereto. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c) (“A copy of a written instrument that is an exhibit to a pleading is a part of the pleading for all purposes”); see ...


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