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Pace v. Waterbury Police Department

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 12, 2017

JOHN PACE
v.
WATERBURY POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al.

          RECOMMENDED RULING

          HON. SARAH A. L. MERRIAM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on an initial review of the Complaint [Doc. #1] and Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis [Doc. #2] filed by self-represented plaintiff John Pace (“plaintiff”). For the reasons set forth below, plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis [Doc. #2] is GRANTED. Upon review, the Court recommends that the Complaint [Doc. #1] be DISMISSED, in part, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         I. Background

         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. section 1983 against defendants Waterbury Police Department; John Doe Officer 1; John Doe Officer 2; and Sin City Nightclub. See Doc. #1 at 1. The allegations in plaintiff's Complaint stem from an incident on July 6, 2014, at the defendant Sin City Nightclub (“Sin City”) in Waterbury, Connecticut. See generally Doc. #1. Plaintiff claims that he was attending a concert at Sin City. See Id. at 1. Upon stepping outside to smoke a cigarette, plaintiff was approached by Sin City security guards, who informed plaintiff that he was not permitted to smoke where he was standing. See Id. Plaintiff alleges that he was then “[s]uddenly without warning” pushed down the steps by defendants John Doe Officer 1 and John Doe Officer 2 (collectively, “John Doe Officers”). Id. Plaintiff claims that he was subjected to excessive force by the John Doe Officers during the course of his arrest, and that said officers refused plaintiff's request for an ambulance. See Id. at 2. Plaintiff alleges that the Sin City security guards witnessed the incident but did not call for medical assistance for plaintiff. See Id. Plaintiff was placed in the back of a police wagon and brought to the police station. See Id. Once at the station, plaintiff notified the officers of his injuries but was not provided medical assistance. See Id. Plaintiff claims that he was bleeding and in pain for two hours. See Id. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney's fees. Simultaneously with his Complaint, plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. [Doc. #2].

         II. Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis [Doc. #2]

         Plaintiff has filed a motion seeking to proceed without payment of fees and costs, along with a financial affidavit. [Doc. #2]. Plaintiff asserts that he is unable to pay fees and costs, as he has no monthly income. See Id. at 3-5. Plaintiff also asserts that he has no assets, cash or securities on hand. See Id. at 3-4. At this stage, such allegations are sufficient to establish that the plaintiff “is unable to pay” the ordinary filing fees required by the Court. 28 U.S.C. §1915(a)(1). Accordingly, the plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis [Doc. #2] is GRANTED.

         III. Initial Review

         A. Standard of Review

         The determination of whether an in forma pauperis plaintiff should be permitted to proceed under 28 U.S.C. §1915 involves two separate considerations. The Court must first determine whether the plaintiff may proceed with the action without prepaying the filing fee in full. See 28 U.S.C. §1915(a). The Court has already addressed that issue. Second, section 1915 provides that “the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that” the case “is frivolous or malicious” or “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted[.]” 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B)(i), (ii). In the interest of efficiency, the Court reviews complaints under this provision shortly after filing to determine whether the plaintiff has stated a cognizable, non-frivolous claim.

         The Court construes complaints filed by self-represented plaintiffs liberally. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). The Court exercises caution in dismissing a case under section 1915(e) because a claim that the Court perceives as likely to be unsuccessful is not necessarily frivolous. See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 329 (1989). In addition, “unless the court can rule out any possibility, however unlikely it might be, that an amended complaint would succeed in stating a claim[, ]” the Court will permit a self-represented plaintiff who is proceeding in forma pauperis to file an amended complaint that attempts to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Gomez v. USAA Fed. Sav. Bank, 171 F.3d 794, 796 (2d Cir. 1999).

         B. Discussion

         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to section 1983, which creates a federal cause of action against any person who, under color of state law, deprives a citizen or a person within the jurisdiction of the United States of any right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. See 42 U.S.C. §1983. The Court construes plaintiff's complaint as asserting claims of: (1) excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment; (2) deliberate indifference to medical needs in violation of plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment due process rights; (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress, in violation of state law; and (4) negligence, in violation of state law.

         1. John Doe Officer Defendants

         The Court turns first to plaintiff's claims against the John Doe Officers. Plaintiff alleges that, during the course of his arrest, the John Doe Officers knocked him down the stairs, grabbed him by the throat, threw him to the ground, kicked him, kneed him, and slammed his head and chin against the ground repeatedly. See Doc. #1 at 1-2. The Court finds that plaintiff has sufficiently alleged a ...


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