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McCray v. Malanson

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 6, 2016

DANIEL McCRAY, Plaintiff,
RYAN MALANSON, et al., Defendants.


          Stefan R. Underhill, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Daniel McCray, currently confined at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut, filed this case pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the defendants used excessive force against him. McCray names as defendants Correctional Officers Ryan Malanson, Van Nostrand, Thompson, Mclain, Joyal, Cheney and Bertrand; Lieutenant Rivera; Deputy Warden Mudano; and Captain Scott Salious. The complaint was filed on November 22, 2016. McCray's motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on November 28, 2016.

         Under section 1915(e)(2)(B) of title 28 of the United States Code, the Court must review civil complaints filed in forma pauperis and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. Although detailed allegations are not required, the complaint must include sufficient facts to afford the defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and to demonstrate a plausible right to relief. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Conclusory allegations are not sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Nevertheless, it is well-established that “[p]ro se complaints 'must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.'” Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro se litigants).

         I. Allegations

         On July 7, 2016, Malanson escorted McCray's cellmate back to the cell after a phone call. He told McCray to get on his bunk, but did not handcuff him. Malanson then opened the cell door to admit the cellmate. After Malanson secured McCray's cellmate in the cell, McCray began assaulting his cellmate by punching him in the head. Defendant Malanson called a Code Blue.

         After the code was called, correctional officers and other staff members came to the housing unit. McCray was still assaulting his cellmate. Defendant Rivera ordered McCray to stop fighting and then ordered the cell door opened. When the door was opened, McCray immediately stopped assaulting his cellmate and lay on his stomach on his bunk. Defendants Bertrand, Van Nostrand, Thompson, Mclain, Malanson, and Cheney ran into the cell. Defendant Bertrand threw McCray from the bunk to the floor. When McCray was secured, defendants Van Nostrand, Cheney, Bertrand, Malanson, and Mclain began kicking McCray in the head and back, punching him in the face and bouncing his head on the floor.

         When the camera arrived, McCray was secured in handcuffs and chains and escorted to the medical unit. Staff cleaned McCray's face, which was bleeding, and photographed his injuries. The correctional officers then escorted him to restrictive housing. About thirty minutes later, McCray was taken to the MacDougall building of the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution for treatment of his head injury and to determine whether he had a concussion. He remained there for five days. After he was cleared by the medical unit, McCray was returned to the Walker building.

         On July 12, 2016, while in restrictive housing, McCray spoke to Salious, the restrictive housing unit manager. McCray questioned the use of excessive force by correctional staff when he was not resisting. Salious told McCray that he was beaten because he was “always talking shit to them” and that Mclain had participated in the incident because in November 2015, McCray and his cellmate threw a food tray at Mclain. Salious cautioned McCray to “keep your mouth shut and no more hitting my staff with food trays.” ECF No. 1 at 10.

         II. Analysis

         The use of excessive force against a prisoner can constitute cruel and unusual punishment even where the inmate does not suffer serious injuries. See Hudson v. McMillian, 502 U.S. 1, 4 (1992), accord Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34, 34, 36 (2010) (per curiam). The “core judicial inquiry” is “not whether a certain quantum of injury was sustained but rather whether force was applied in a good faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm.” Wilkins, 559 U.S. at 37 (quoting Hudson, 503 U.S. at 7 (internal quotation marks omitted)).

         McCray alleges that when the force was used he was on his bunk and not resisting any officer. Thus, there appeared no need to use force to restore discipline. In addition, the alleged comment by Salious suggests that the force was used maliciously. Accordingly, the excessive force claim will proceed.

         McCray also includes as defendants Deputy Warden Mudano and Captain Salious, both supervisory officials. Mudano responded to McCray's grievance, stating that staff responded in accordance with all policies and procedures. He did not address the allegation that McCray was not resisting when force was used against him. Salious told McCray that he was assaulted for his actions toward correctional staff and warned him to alter his behavior. Neither defendant directly participated in the assault, and McCray's allegations are not sufficient to allow their actions to be construed as sanctioning the allegedly abusive conduct. The court thus considers McCray's allegations against Salious and Mudano to be insufficient to support a claim for supervisory liability.

         The only reference to Correctional Officer Joyal in the complaint is that he delivered a disciplinary report for assault to McCray. Because that action did not violate any constitutionally protected right, all claims against Joyal are dismissed.

         III. Motion for ...

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