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Lucero v. Evangelidis

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 21, 2018




         Manuel Lucero (Plaintiff) brought this civil rights action against Lewis G. Evangelidis, Sheriff of Worcester County, Thomas A. Turco III, Commissioner of Corrections, and Correct Care Solutions, the healthcare provider for inmates at Worcester County Jail and House of Corrections (WCJHOC). Defendant Turco moves to dismiss the Plaintiff's Complaint on the grounds that Plaintiff has failed to state a viable supervisory liability claim upon which relief can be granted. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion (Docket No. 44) is granted.


         The following facts are taken from Plaintiff's complaint and are assumed true for the purposes of this motion. Manuel Lucero was formerly an inmate at Worcester County Jail and House of Corrections (WCJHOC). During his time there he was deprived of “the basic necessities of life, including: warmth, safety, sanitation, and adequate medical care.” (Docket No. 11 at ¶ 26). Inmates are kept in close quarters consisting of two-person bunks arranged about four feet on all sides from another bunk; he was given a dirty mattress; he was forced to take hot showers; there were insufficient fire drills; he was given insufficient blankets; his food was cold and contained bodily fluids; he was deprived of engaging in consensual sexual intimacy with other inmates; he was denied adequate medical care; he had insufficient access to legal resources; and prison officials retaliated against him for complaints and denied three orders of Black's Law Dictionary under the false pretense that they were used when in fact ordered new directly from the publisher.

         Standard of Review

         A defendant may move to dismiss, based solely on the complaint, for the plaintiff's “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege “a plausible entitlement to relief.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 559 (2007). Although detailed factual allegations are not necessary to survive a motion to dismiss, the standard “requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. at 555. “The relevant inquiry focuses on the reasonableness of the inference of liability that the plaintiff is asking the court to draw from the facts alleged in the complaint.” Ocasio-Hernandez v. Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 13 (1st Cir. 2011).

         In evaluating a motion to dismiss, the court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Langadinos v. American Airlines, Inc., 199 F.3d 68, 68 (1st Cir. 2000). It is a “context-specific task” to determine “whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief, ” one that “requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009) (internal citations omitted). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). On the other hand, a court may not disregard properly pled factual allegations, “even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.

         Because Plaintiff appears pro se, we construe his pleadings more favorably than we would those drafted by an attorney. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Nevertheless, Plaintiff's pro-se status does not excuse him from complying with procedural and substantive law. See Ahmed v. Rosenblatt, 118 F.3d 886, 890 (1st Cir.1997).


         Section 1983 “creates a remedy for violations of federal rights committed by persons acting under color of state law.” Haywood v. Drown, 556 U.S. 729 (20009). It requires three elements for liability: deprivation of a right, a causal connection between the actor and the deprivation, and state action. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and damages for the alleged violation of the statute.

         1. Standing for Injunctive Relief

         Plaintiff petitions the court for an injunction to abolish policies that violate inmates' federal rights. Defendant Turco alleges that because Plaintiff is no longer housed at the Worcester County House of Correction, he no longer has a legally cognizable interest in the conditions at the facility thus rendering his claims moot.

         “The equitable remedy is unavailable absent a showing of irreparable injury, a requirement that cannot be met where there is no showing of any real or immediate threat that the plaintiff will be wronged again-‘a likelihood of substantial and immediate irreparable harm.'” City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 111 (1983) (quoting O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 502 (1974)). A court, however, may nonetheless award injunctive relief if a claim is “capable of repetition, yet evading review.” S. Pac. Terminal Co. v. ICC, 219 U.S. 498 (1911). This exception, while well-established, is construed narrowly. See Redfern v. Napolitano, 727 F.3d 77, 84 (1st Cir. 2013). According to the Supreme Court, a party seeking relief under the exception has the burden of showing that “(1) the challenged action is in its duration too short to be fully litigated prior to cessation or expiration; and (2) there is a reasonable expectation or a demonstrated probability that the same complaining party will be subject to the same action again.” FEC v. Wis. Right To Life, Inc., 551 U.S. 449, 462 (2007).

         In Ford v. Bender, the First Circuit held, in a case much like the one presented here, that a pretrial detainee failed to satisfy the second requirement because “there was no reasonable expectation that he will again be confined to the DDU as a pretrial detainee.” 768 F.3d 15, 30 (1st Cir. ...

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