Lewis v. State of Connecticut Dept. of Corrections, No. 3:02 CV 2304 MRK.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
Writing for the CourtKravitz
Citation355 F.Supp.2d 607
PartiesBrenda LEWIS, Plaintiff, v. STATE OF CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. 3:02 CV 2304 MRK.
Decision Date24 January 2005
355 F.Supp.2d 607
Brenda LEWIS, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.
No. 3:02 CV 2304 MRK.
United States District Court, D. Connecticut.
January 24, 2005.

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Lowell L. Peterson, Community Law Practice, Hartford, CT, for Plaintiff.

Beth Z. Margulies, Attorney General's Office, Beth Z. Marguleies, Attorney's Office, Joseph A. Jordano, Attorney General's Office Employment Rights, Hartford, CT, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

KRAVITZ, District Judge.


Plaintiff Brenda Lewis sues her employer, the Connecticut Department of Corrections ("DOC"), for injunctive and monetary relief arising from the DOC's alleged retaliation against her for complaining about racial discrimination and for an alleged racially hostile work environment at the Hartford Correctional Center, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII").1 See Fourth Am. Compl. [doc. # 49], at ¶¶ 53-55. She also brings a retaliation claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, as enforced through 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Lieutenant Erik Sousa, an employee at the Hartford Correctional Center, in his official capacity for injunctive relief and in his individual capacity for monetary relief. See Fourth Am. Compl. [doc. # 49], at ¶¶ 56-66. Officer Lewis also asserts a hostile work environment claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, as enforced through 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Lieutenant Sousa and against the former Warden of the Hartford Correctional Center, Peter J. Murphy, in their official capacities for injunctive relief and in their individual capacities for monetary relief.2 See Fourth

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Am. Compl. [doc. # 49], at ¶¶ 56-66. Finally, Officer Lewis brings a state tort claim of false imprisonment against Lieutenant Sousa. See id. at ¶¶ 67-69. Currently pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [doc. # 58]. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

I.

Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are not in serious dispute. At all relevant times, Plaintiff Lewis was a Corrections Officer at the Hartford Correctional Center assigned to the third shift, which ran from 12:00 a.m. until 8:00 a.m. Defs.' Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement [doc. # 60], at ¶ 1. Defendant Sousa was a Lieutenant at the Hartford Correctional Center who primarily worked the first or second shift. Id. at ¶ 2. When the second shift was 8 hours long, it ran from 4 p.m. until 12 a.m.; when the second shift was 10 hours long it ran from 3 p.m. until 1 a.m. Id. The parties dispute the degree to which Lieutenant Sousa supervised Officer Lewis. Compare id. at ¶ 6 ("[Sousa] rarely supervised Brenda Lewis.") with Pl.'s Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement [doc. # 67], at ¶ 6 ("Plaintiff disagrees with Defendants' characterization of Lt. Sousa's supervision as rare."). However, the parties do agree that because Lieutenant Sousa was not Officer Lewis' primary supervisor on the third shift, he never wrote an evaluation of her work performance and he did not have the authority to discipline, hire, fire, demote, promote, or transfer Officer Lewis. Defs.' Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement [doc. # 60], at ¶ 7. Defendant Murphy was the Warden of the Hartford Correctional Center from February 14, 2000 until June 27, 2002. Id. at ¶ 3. While wardens do not have the authority to hire, fire, demote, or transfer, they do have the authority to recommend discipline and to recommend promotions. Id. at ¶ 23.

Officer Lewis' claims against all Defendants arise out of six "incidents" between Officer Lewis and Lieutenant Sousa, which occurred over a 17-month period from March 9, 2001 until August 13, 2002. The following chronology outlines the relevant details of these six incidents, and also highlights other key dates.

The first incident occurred on March 9, 2001, when Officer Lewis claims she was denied timely medical assistance when she was suffering a heart attack. See Fourth Am. Compl. [doc. # 49], at ¶ 15. Though the parties dispute many of the details of this incident, both parties agree that unbeknownst to her or her co-workers, Officer Lewis suffered a heart attack while on the job on March 9. Defs.' Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement [doc. # 60], at ¶ 9, 47, 48. Officer Lewis alleges that there was a delay of approximately one hour in providing her medical assistance, which she currently asserts was the result of racial animus. See Pl.'s Am. Mem. of Law in Supp. of Objection to Summ. J. [doc. # 80], at 30-31. Officer Lewis apparently called Lieutenant Sousa for relief at 12:04 a.m., and when relief did not immediately arrive, she called Corrections Officer Anna Dorozko at 12:25 a.m. Pl.'s Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement [doc. # 67], at ¶¶ 9, 41. Officer Dorozko told Officer Lewis that she would send relief, but it did not arrive until at approximately 1:00 a.m. See Fourth Am. Compl. [doc. # 49], at ¶ 24. Defendants do not dispute that there was a delay of nearly

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an hour in Officer Lewis' receipt of medical attention; however, they strenuously deny that racial animus played any role in the delay. See Defs.' Reply Brief [doc. # 75], at 4-5.

On April 20, 2001, while on leave recovering from her heart attack, Officer Lewis submitted an internal grievance through her union against Lieutenant Sousa related to the delay in providing medical assistance. Defs.' Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement [doc. # 60], at ¶ 25. Her grievance was denied at Level III, when the grievance panel found that the reason for the delay was "mis-communication." Id. It is undisputed that Officer Lewis' internal grievance and accompanying incident reports never expressly stated or claimed that the delay in providing her with medical assistance was based on racial animus. Id. at ¶ 68.

The second incident occurred on June 20, 2001, when Officer Lewis was assigned to a Lobby Control post to allow her to recuperate following her heart attack. Both parties agree that the assignment was intended to accommodate Officer Lewis' continued recovery and was generally approved by her doctor. Defs.' Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement [doc. # 60], at ¶ 29. Furthermore, the parties agree that Captain Michael Madden assigned Officer Lewis to the Lobby Control post. Id. at ¶ 57. However, the parties vigorously dispute the nature of this assignment, whether Lieutenant Sousa played any role in the assignment, and whether there were insidious motives behind the assignment. Officer Lewis alleges that the Lobby Control post was a "stressful" work environment because she did not possess the computer skills needed to perform the job. See Pl.'s Am. Mem. of Law in Supp. of Objection to Summ. J. [doc. # 80], at 9-10. Officer Lewis also claims that Lieutenant Sousa had input into this assignment and laughed derisively when she was assigned to the post. See Pl.'s Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement [doc. # 67], at ¶ 57; Fourth Am. Compl. [doc. # 49], at ¶ 31. She further alleges that assigning her to this "stressful" post was directly related to her complaints about Lieutenant Sousa's delay in providing her medical assistance and that it was done in retaliation for her filing accusatory incident reports and a union grievance related to the medical assistance delay incident. See Pl.'s Am. Mem. of Law in Supp. of Objection to Summ. J. [doc. # 80], at 10. The parties do not dispute that on the day Officer Lewis was assigned to the Lobby Control post, she informally complained to Warden Murphy when he passed through the lobby. Defs.' Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement [doc. # 60], at ¶ 71. Furthermore, the parties do not dispute that in response to her complaint to Warden Murphy, Captain Madden sent a corrections officer to train Officer Lewis on the computer system on the same day as her complaint to Warden Murphy. See Defs.' Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement [doc. # 60], at ¶ 59; Aff. of Captain Michael Madden, Defs.' Exs. in Supp. of Summ. J. [doc. # 61], at Ex. 5, at ¶ 6-7.

On November 30, 2001, Officer Lewis submitted a complaint to the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities ("CHRO"). Defs.' Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement [doc. # 60], at ¶ 80. This initial complaint to the CHRO solely concerned Officer Lewis' allegations that the delay in providing her medical assistance on March 9 was racially motivated, and it made no mention of second incident involving the recuperative post assignment to Lobby Control. Id. On January 28, 2002, Officer Lewis' complaint to the CHRO was automatically forwarded to the Boston Area Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), which issued a Notice of Charge of Discrimination based on race and color. Id. Because it was identical to her CHRO charge, Officer

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Lewis' EEOC charge dealt only with the medical assistance delay and made no mention of the Lobby Control assignment.

On March 29, 2002 the third incident occurred when Officer Lewis and Lieutenant Sousa had a verbal dispute over the signing of a logbook. Officer Lewis alleges that Lieutenant Sousa falsely reprimanded her for not signing the back of a logbook, as a part of his continuing race-based harassment of Officer Lewis. See Fourth Am. Compl. [doc. # 49], at ¶ 31. Lieutenant Sousa asserts that he has no recollection of the incident. Defs.' Local 56(a)(1) Statement [doc. # 60], at ¶ 11. Officer Lewis did not file an incident report following this verbal dispute, and she acknowledges that checking for signatures on the logbook was part of Lieutenant Sousa's job. Id.

The fourth incident occurred on April 22, 2002, when Officer Lewis and Lieutenant Sousa engaged in a heated argument while Officer Lewis was stationed at her post in the South Block of the Hartford Correctional Center. During this heated argument, Lieutenant Sousa alleges that Officer Lewis slammed a door into him, Defs.' Local 56(a)(1) Statement...

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28 practice notes
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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 23, 2021
    ...Jhala, after which Denner told him “you black guy, go back to India.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 108). See Lewis v. State of Conn. Dep't of Corr., 355 F.Supp.2d 607, 622 (D. Conn. 2005) (“The prototypical ‘single incident' that creates a hostile work environment usually involves a clear, expressed, over......
  • Radolf v. University of Conn., No. 3:03CV242(MRK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • March 30, 2005
    ...the termination of the investigation, suffered no adverse employment action in Title VII context); Lewis v. Connecticut Dep't of Corr., 355 F.Supp.2d 607, 619-20 (D.Conn.2005) (employment not materially altered in Title VII retaliation claim when "internal investigation did not conclude tha......
  • Walker v. Accenture PLC, No. 3:19-cv-00888 (VAB)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Connecticut
    • December 23, 2020
    ...Ins. Co. , 94 F. Supp. 2d 225, 233 (D. Conn. 2000) ); Farzan , 2017 WL 354685, at *13 (citing Lewis v. Conn. Dep't of Corrections , 355 F. Supp. 2d 607, 621 n.10 (D. Conn. 2005), which relied exclusively on pre-2004 cases Walker v. Jastremski , 159 F.3d 117, 119 (2d Cir. 1998) and Holt , 95......
  • Spector v. Bd of Trust., Community-Technical Coll., Civil Action No. 3:06-cv-129(JCH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • November 29, 2006
    ...an EEOC complaint, since the two are treated the same for Title VII exhaustion purposes. Lewis v. State of Connecticut Dept. of Corr., 355 F.Supp.2d 607, 615 As the defendants have established without dispute that Crowley did not exhaust his remedies with either the EEOC or the CHRO, the bu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
28 cases
  • Karupaiyan v. CVS Health Corp., 19 Civ. 8814 (KPF)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 23, 2021
    ...Jhala, after which Denner told him “you black guy, go back to India.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 108). See Lewis v. State of Conn. Dep't of Corr., 355 F.Supp.2d 607, 622 (D. Conn. 2005) (“The prototypical ‘single incident' that creates a hostile work environment usually involves a clear, expressed, over......
  • Radolf v. University of Conn., No. 3:03CV242(MRK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • March 30, 2005
    ...the termination of the investigation, suffered no adverse employment action in Title VII context); Lewis v. Connecticut Dep't of Corr., 355 F.Supp.2d 607, 619-20 (D.Conn.2005) (employment not materially altered in Title VII retaliation claim when "internal investigation did not conclude tha......
  • Walker v. Accenture PLC, No. 3:19-cv-00888 (VAB)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Connecticut
    • December 23, 2020
    ...Ins. Co. , 94 F. Supp. 2d 225, 233 (D. Conn. 2000) ); Farzan , 2017 WL 354685, at *13 (citing Lewis v. Conn. Dep't of Corrections , 355 F. Supp. 2d 607, 621 n.10 (D. Conn. 2005), which relied exclusively on pre-2004 cases Walker v. Jastremski , 159 F.3d 117, 119 (2d Cir. 1998) and Holt , 95......
  • Spector v. Bd of Trust., Community-Technical Coll., Civil Action No. 3:06-cv-129(JCH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • November 29, 2006
    ...an EEOC complaint, since the two are treated the same for Title VII exhaustion purposes. Lewis v. State of Connecticut Dept. of Corr., 355 F.Supp.2d 607, 615 As the defendants have established without dispute that Crowley did not exhaust his remedies with either the EEOC or the CHRO, the bu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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