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Al-Bukhari v. Semple

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 16, 2017

SCOTT SEMPLE, et al., Defendants


          Stefan R. Underhill United States District Judge

         Ja Qure Al-Bukhari, incarcerated and pro se, has filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Commissioner Scott Semple, Warden Anne Cournoyer, Warden William Mulligan, Lieutenant Tuttle, Lieutenant Porylo, Lieutenant Guimond, Lieutenant Bradley, Correction Officer Wemmel, Correction Officer Schmidt, Correction Officer McCarthy, Correction Officer Bogan, Correction Officer John Doe 1, Correction Officer John Doe 2, Correction Officer John Doe 3, Nurse Nancy Hill, and Nurse Kristen Carabine, all of whom are employees of the Connecticut Department of Correction. Al-Bukhari is suing all sixteen defendants in their individual and official capacities for acting with deliberate indifference to his medical needs, in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Al-Bukhari is also suing defendants Porylo, Doe 1, Doe 2, and Doe 3 in their individual and official capacities for excessive force under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, denial of due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, and common law assault. Al-Bukhari seeks declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief against all defendants for the alleged violations. For the reasons set forth below, the complaint will be dismissed in part.

         I. Factual Allegations

         Al-Bukhari's complaint alleges the following facts:

         Al-Bukhari was at all relevant times incarcerated at Northern Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut. The Department of Correction (“DOC”) has classified Al-Bukhari as a seriously mentally ill inmate, who has been diagnosed with several mental disorders, including bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. Al-Bukhari suffers from suicidal ideations and has been taking medication to treat his ailments since childhood. He often engages in acts of self-harm.

         On March 9, 2016, Al-Bukhari covered his cell window in violation of DOC policy, which prompted a correction officer to notify the lieutenant's office. By the time Lieutenants Porylo and Guimond and other correctional staff responded to the call and arrived at Al-Bukhari's cell, Al-Bukhari had removed the covering from the window. Nevertheless, the lieutenants ordered one correctional officer to activate a handheld camcorder and other officers to handcuff Al-Bukhari, but Al-Bukhari refused. Lieutenant Porylo also ordered Al-Bukhari, who was naked at the time, to clothe himself, but Al-Bukhari refused to do so. His refusal prompted Porylo to spray a chemical agent on his genital area and buttocks until he submitted to being handcuffed. Porylo and Correction Officers Doe 1, Doe 2, and Doe 3 then entered his cell, subdued him and restrained him in handcuffs.

         After restraining Al-Bukhari, the officers attempted to clothe him with underwear but placed the underwear on him improperly. When the officers escorted Al-Bukhari out of his cell, the combination of the improper placement of his underwear and a wet floor caused Al-Bukhari to lose his balance and start to fall. As he tried to regain his balance, Doe 1, Doe 2, and Doe 3 “slammed” Al-Bukhari on the ground and Porylo again sprayed chemicals on his back, arms, and the back of his head. Other inmates housed in the area witnessed the event and ridiculed Al-Bukhari, whose genitalia was exposed due to the improper placement of his underwear.

         While on the ground and subdued, Doe 1, Doe 2, and Doe 3 attempted to turn Al-Bukhari's head so that Porylo could spray him in the face, but were unsuccessful. The officers repeatedly yelled at Al-Bukhari to “stop resisting!” even though Al-Bukhari was not doing so. After the struggle, the officers picked up Al-Bukhari from the ground and escorted him to the medical screening room. There, Al-Bukhari requested a shower to wash off the chemical agent with which Porylo had sprayed him, but Porylo and Nurse Carabine denied his request, which caused him to suffer from intermittent burning of his back, arms, genitals and buttocks.

         At some point, Al-Bukhari “threatened to self-harm by banging his head on hard surfaces.” This prompted Porylo to order the placement of Al-Bukhari in “four-point restraints” for several hours, during which Al-Bukhari continued to suffer from intense burning from the chemical agent. Afterward, Porylo and the officers returned Al-Bukhari to his cell, removed the “four-point restraints, ” and placed “in-cell restraints” on him. Al-Bukhari was denied soap, water and toilet paper to clean himself.

         The next day, while still restrained in his cell, Al-Bukhari defecated on himself. He reported what he had done to Correction Officers Wemmel, Schmidt, McCarthy and Bogan and requested medical services and the opportunity to clean himself, but the officers denied his requests. Despite multiple tours of Al-Bukhari's cell, Wemmel, Schmidt, McCarthy and Bogan never reported that Al-Bukhari had defecated on himself. Unable to obtain assistance, Al-Bukhari covered his cell window, which was stained with feces. This prompted Officer Bogan to notify Lieutenant Tuttle, who came to Al-Bukhari's cell. Al-Bukhari notified Tuttle of his problem and again requested medical services, but Tuttle denied his request and told Al-Bukhari to “cut the shit out.” In addition to denying his medical request, Tuttle, Wemmel, Schmidt, McCarthy, and Bogan “taunted and mocked” Al-Bukhari for defecating on himself. Eventually, a mental health social worker came to Al-Bukhari's cell for unrelated reasons, learned of his situation, and assured him that he would notify the lieutenant's office.

         A short time later, Lieutenants Bradley and Guimond came to Al-Bukhari's cell to address the situation. Initially, Bradley denied Al-Bukhari's request for a shower and medical services, and Al-Bukhari began banging his head on the cell door. Officers again brought Al-Bukhari to the medical unit and permitted him to take a shower but denied him adequate soap to wash off the chemical agent, which was still causing him pain.

         Al-Bukhari was physically restrained for a total of thirty-six hours. During that time, he complained to Nurses Hill and Carabine that the restraints were causing him muscle spasms and pain in his neck, back and shoulders due to his degenerative joint disease, but Hill and Carabine informed him that “there[] [was] nothing they [could] do because [Al-Bukhari] was in custody restraints.”

         II. Relevant Legal Principles

         Under section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code, I must review prisoner civil complaints 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. 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 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).

         III. Analysis

         A. Claims Against Defendants in their Official ...

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