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Second Circuit Reverses Summary Dismissal of Connecticut Prisoner’s Failure-to-Protect Lawsuit

Lloyd George Morgan, Jr., was transferred to the Osborn Correctional Institution after he cooperated with prison officials investigating gang activity at another prison. Upon his arrival at Osborn, he was immediately threatened and harassed for being a snitch and a homosexual.

Morgan sent an Inmate Request Form (IRF) to Unit Manager Captain K. Godding stating that he had worked with prison intelligence officials and had been called a snitch by Los Solidos gang member Gabriel Rodriguez, who had threatened to “beat [Morgan] really bad and snap [his] neck for being a ‘snitch’” and feared Rodriguez would harm him. He reiterated this to Godding verbally on at least three occasions, but Godding would not take him seriously and told him to “stop being a snitch” and “learn to fight like a man.”

Morgan then sent a similar IRF to Osborn Warden Carol Chapdelaine. He also spoke with Chapdelaine about the IRF when she toured his cell block.

On the evening of January 5, 2014, Morgan told guards Maritza Maldanado and Jeremy Lindsay, who were assigned to his cell block, that Rodriguez had threatened him, he feared for his safety, and was especially fearful of “recreation time.” Hours later, he was let out of his cell for recreation and went to the shower. Rodriguez and another prisoner were there and they beat and choked him. His screams for guards to help him were unheard or ignored.

Morgan reported the beating to Maldanado, but she was dismissive and refused to call an emergency code or lock down the cell block. An investigation resulted in Rodriguez being disciplined for the assault. Morgan brought a pro se federal civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 with numerous claims against prison officials. Claims and defendants were dismissed until only Eight Amendment claims of deliberate indifference against Chapdelaine, Godding, Maldanado, and Lindsay remained, along with pendent state torts against all defendants.

The district court appointed Morgan counsel. Then defendants were granted summary judgment on the federal claims. The court also dismissed the state claims without prejudice. Morgan was represented on appeal by New Haven attorney Sherwin M. Yoder of Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP.

The Court of Appeals noted that the district court dismissed the claims against Chapdelaine and Godding based on Morgan’s failure to show their “personal involvement” in the alleged constitutional deprivations under the doctrine of supervisory liability.

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Related legal case

Morgan v. Dzurenda