United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
DENNIS SAYLOR, IV UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
an action by a former Massachusetts state prisoner pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff Daniel Tavares has sued
various prison officials in their individual and official
capacities for violating and conspiring to violate his Eighth
and Fourteenth Amendment rights during his incarceration at
the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center. The complaint seeks
declaratory and injunctive relief as well as compensatory and
has been convicted of murdering four people, including his
own mother. This case arises out of the treatment Tavares
allegedly received while incarcerated at Souza Baranowski
from August 2013 to January 2016.
early 1990s, Tavares began serving a 17-to-20 year sentence
for manslaughter. In the summer of 2007, the Massachusetts
Department of Corrections, apparently by mistake, released
him from prison. Tavares then fled the state and committed
two additional murders in Washington state. In 2013, while
serving two consecutive life sentences in Washington state
prison for those murders, Tavares was transferred to Souza
Baranowski to await trial for a fourth murder that had
occurred in 1988. Tavares remained in segregated detention
from the time he arrived in Massachusetts until he was
transferred back to Washington state in January 2016. He now
contends that the defendants placed him in segregated
detention in retaliation for the “political
firestorm” caused by his release and the subsequent
alleges that the conditions of his confinement constituted
cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth
Amendment, that he was denied due process in violation of the
Fourteenth Amendment, and that defendants conspired to
deprive him of these rights. Defendants have moved to dismiss
the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
following reasons, the motion to dismiss will be granted.
following facts are presented as stated in the complaint and
documents that are uncontested or referred to in the
early 2007, Daniel Tavares was incarcerated in a
Massachusetts state prison, having served more than fifteen
years on a seventeen-to-twenty year manslaughter sentence for
killing his mother. See Slater v. Clarke, 700 F.3d
1200, 1202 (9th Cir. 2012). His tenure in prison to that
point had not been without incident. As the Slater
While in prison in Massachusetts, Tavares joined a white
supremacist gang, assaulted and threatened staff and inmates,
and made threats against the life of then-Governor Mitt
Romney and then-Attorney General Thomas Reilly. Just prior to
Tavares's release date, he was arraigned for two
incidents involving violent assaults on prison staff.
700 F.3d at 1202.
14, 2007, Tavares was transferred to the Souza Baranowski
Correctional Center, a maximum security Massachusetts state
prison, to await trial on various charges arising out of a
violent assault on prison staff in 2006. (Compl. ¶
17). In July 2007, Tavares was released, apparently
mistakenly, on his own recognizance while the assault charges
were pending. (Id. ¶ 18).
his release, Tavares fled to Washington state. (Id.
¶ 19). In November 2007, he murdered a newlywed couple,
Beverly and Brian Mauck. (Id.). He was arrested and
ultimately convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in
Washington and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences
plus fifteen years. (Id. ¶¶ 11, 19).
years after the Washington murders, Tavares was transferred
back to Massachusetts to await trial on a first-degree murder
charge arising out of the murder of a fourth victim, Gayle
Botelho, that had occurred in 1988. (Id.
¶¶ 10-11). Tavares arrived at Souza Baranowski
Correctional Center on August 27, 2013. (Id. ¶
upon arriving at Souza Baranowski, Tavares was placed into a
segregated unit. (Id. ¶ 12). The next day,
Tavares was given a classification hearing to review his
eligibility for segregation. (Ex. G). At the hearing, he was
told that due to the “nature and notoriety of [his]
case, past [Department of Corrections] negative prior
adjustments [as an inmate] and [his] level A security rating
[he] was going to be housed in segregation.”
90 days, Tavares was given a classification report stating
that he was being held in a segregated unit due to “the
nature of past, current and pending offenses, his negative
prior adjustments as a MA inmate and his Level A security
rating.” (Compl. ¶ 12, Ex. A). Every ninety days
thereafter, his status was reviewed, and he was issued a new
classification report. (Compl. ¶ 13-14). According to
the complaint, the reviews were only 90 seconds long and took
place at his cell door. (Id.). Each time, he was
given the same reasons: the nature of his crimes, his history
while incarcerated, and his Level A security rating.
(Id. ¶¶ 12-14, Ex. A).
addition, each month Tavares received a notification of
administrative segregation status that indicated the reason
for his segregated status. (Id. ¶ 15). The
notification Tavares received on September 5, 2013, indicated
that he was being held in segregation “[p]ending
[i]nvestigation awaiting trial - high profile.” (Ex.
B-1). The October 2013 notification indicated that he was
being held in segregation “[p]ending
[i]nvestigation” and “[t]o maintain the secure
and orderly running of the institution.” (Ex. B-2).
appealed his classification, without success. (Compl.
¶¶ 13-15). According to the complaint, he contested
his status every week with defendants Gelb, Vidal, Silva, and
Rodrigues. (Id. ¶24). He also sent a letter to
defendant O'Brien contesting his detention in the SMU.
(Id. ¶25). Despite these protests, he remained
in segregation until he was transferred back to Washington
state on January 15, 2016. (Pl. Opp. to MTD at 1).
meantime, in December 2015, Tavares was convicted in the
Massachusetts Superior Court for the Botelho murder and was
sentenced to life in prison without parole. At the time of
his transfer back to Washington, he had been housed in a
segregated unit for nearly two and a half years.
segregated unit in which Tavares was held is classified as a
Special Management Unit (“SMU”). (Ex. A). The
complaint alleges that although he was held in an SMU, he was
“basically housed as a [Departmental Segregation Unit
or “DSU”] prisoner but [was] not afforded . . .
privileges like DSU prisoners receive.” (Compl. ¶
23). It alleges that while held in the SMU, he was allowed
one hour of solitary outdoor recreation time each day in
“a steel cage, ” during which he was required to
wear leg irons and waist chains. (Id; Ex. G). It
further alleges that his confinement in a segregated unit
caused a deterioration in his mental state and caused him to
lose more than forty pounds because he was denied access to
commissary goods. (Compl. ¶ 22).
complaint alleges that Tavares was housed in segregation
“for retaliation and nothing more” because of the
“political firestorm” caused by the murders he
committed while he was a fugitive in Washington. (Compl.
¶¶ 20-21). It alleges that other inmates who were
classified with the same security-risk status were not held
in segregation. (Id. ¶ 21). It further alleges
that inmates housed in disciplinary units were afforded
greater privileges than he was, including visitation,
television time, and greater access to the commissary. (Ex. G
complaint also alleges that during his segregated
confinement, Tavares spoke with and sent letters to
defendants, but received no relief. (Compl.
¶¶ 24-25). On September 26, 2013, he filed
an inmate grievance form challenging his segregated status.
(Id. ¶ 26). The grievance was denied on
November 6, 2013. (Id.) ...