United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
R. UNDERHILL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Anthony Torrez, currently confined at Northern Correctional
Institution in Somers, Connecticut, filed this case pro
se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Torrez alleges that the
defendants used excessive force and retaliated against him,
and subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of
confinement. He also asserts claims under the Americans with
Disabilities Act. Torrez names as defendants Warden William
Mulligan; Correctional Officers Laprey, Collier, Hafner,
Wochomurka, and Sanchez; Lieutenant James Delpesio; Captain
Pafumi; Nurse Paul Balatka; Head Nurse Barbra Savoie; and the
Department of Correction. Torrez seeks damages as well as
declaratory and injunctive relief. The complaint was filed on
April 24, 2017. Torrez's motion to proceed in forma
pauperis was granted on May 3, 2017.
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
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
was transferred to Northern Correctional Institution as a
pretrial detainee. He was sentenced on May 27, 2016. Thus, at
the time of the incident underlying the complaint, Torrez was
a sentenced inmate. See www.ctinmateinfo.state.ct.us
(last visited May 4, 2017). Torrez is classified as seriously
mentally ill, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder
as a result of childhood trauma. He has been diagnosed with
several other mental disorders and takes medication.
afternoon of July 3, 2016, Torrez was waiting for
correctional officers to escort him to make a social phone
call. When Laprey was touring the unit, Torrez reminded him
about the scheduled social call. Laprey asked whether Torres
was going to call his boyfriend. Every time Laprey toured the
unit, he made sexually inappropriate remarks to Torrez.
Although Torrez asked him to stop, Laprey continued making
that day, Laprey and another officer came to apply restraints
and escort Torrez to make his call. When Torrez again asked
Laprey to refrain from making derogatory comments, Laprey
stated that he would do what he wanted and promised that
Torrez would get f-ked up for trying to tell him what to do.
conclusion of the call, Laprey came to the dayroom to escort
Torrez back to his cell. When Laprey made another comment,
Torrez asked him to stop commenting. Laprey told Torrez that
he would be “slammed.” As Laprey walked toward
Torrez in an aggressive manner, Torrez fled. He stopped when
Laprey stated that he was joking and Laprey escorted him back
to his cell.
stopped outside the cell door. Laprey reminded Torrez of his
promise to slam him and proceeded to repeatedly shove Torrez
against the wall and slam him to the floor. These actions
damaged Torrez's knee. Although Torrez was not resisting,
Laprey then called a “code 11” which requests
emergency assistance for prisoner noncompliance.
additional staff responded, Torrez was lifted to his feet to
be escorted to the medical unit. Delpesio sprayed Torrez with
an excessive amount of chemical agent. After he was
decontaminated in the medical unit, Torrez was escorted to a
cell and strip searched. The strip search caused Torrez to
re-experience sexual abuse he had endured as a child. After
the search, Torrez was dressed and defendant Collier applied
in-cell restraints while defendants Hafner and Sanchez
forcibly held Torrez in place. The tether chain on the
in-cell restraints was too short, preventing Torrez from
standing erect. Nurse Balatka approved the restraints.
remained in the restraints for eighteen hours, from 9:00 p.m.
on July 3, 2016, until 3:36 p.m. on July 4, 2016. No medical
staff member corrected these conditions during that time.
Nurse Savoie checked the restraints at 7:55 a.m. on July 4,
2016. She did not order the restraints adjusted or removed.
Instead, she reported that the restraints were within the
includes five counts in his complaint: (1) all defendants
were deliberately indifferent to his safety and medical needs
in violation of the Eighth Amendment and the Americans with
Disabilities Act; (2) Laprey, Sanchez and Delpesio used
excessive force against Torrez; (3) Laprey and Delpesio
violated Torrez's First Amendment right of free speech
and his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of the
laws, and Mulligan, Pafumi, Hafner, Wochomurka, Savoie and
Balatka retaliated against Torrez; (4) all defendants
subjected Torrez to unconstitutional conditions of
confinement; and (5) Department of Correction, Mulligan,
Delpesio, Pafumi, Savoie and Balatka failed to protect him
and supervise their subordinates.
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). As with all Eighth Amendment
claims, excessive force claims have subjective and objective
components. The subjective component focuses on “the
defendant's motive for his conduct”; the objective
component focuses “on the conduct's effect.”
Wright v. Goord, 554 F.3d 255, 268 (2d Cir. 2009).
In excessive force cases, the “core judicial
inquiry” is “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)).
contends that Laprey, Sanchez and Delpesio used excessive
force against him. He alleges that Laprey shoved him into the
wall and slammed him to the floor, Delpesio used an excessive
amount of chemical agent, and Sanchez forcibly held him when
restraints were applied. Although the allegations are
sufficient to state a plausible excessive force claim against
Laprey and Delpesio, they are not sufficient with respect to
Sanchez. The only allegation regarding Sanchez is that he
physically held Torrez to allow in-cell restraints to be
placed on Torrez. Compl. at ¶ 33. Torrez does not allege
that the manner in which Sanchez physically held him was
excessive. Accordingly, the excessive force claim against
Sanchez is dismissed.