United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
Jeffrey Alker Meyer, United States District Judge.
Matthew Wills is a prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut
Department of Correction. He has filed a complaint pro
se and in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. The complaint was received on May 31, 2017, and
plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis
was granted on June 8, 2017. After an initial review, the
Court concludes that the complaint should be dismissed.
names six defendants: Commissioner Scott Semple, Warden
Edward Maldonado, Captain Chapdelaine, Lead CERT Officer
Dowles, and two John Doe CERT Officers. The following
allegations from plaintiff's complaint are accepted as
true for purposes of this ruling.
February 23, 2017, plaintiff was housed in E-block at Osborn
Correctional Institution. At 10:00 p.m., multiple
correctional officers ordered plaintiff to get dressed
because all inmates were going to the gym. As plaintiff left
the housing unit, he observed multiple K-9 units with the
dogs acting aggressively and 150-200 Correctional Emergency
Response Team (“CERT”) officers in full riot gear
holding assault weapons and batons. The officers were yelling
threats and obscenities at the inmates. The officers'
actions appeared to have been authorized by defendants
Semple, Chapdelaine, and Dowles. When plaintiff reached the
gym he experienced a panic attack and chest pain. Doc. #1 at
spoke with Warden Maldonado the following day. The warden
stated that he did not authorize the CERT teams to assemble
and that inmates are not permitted to participate in a live
training exercise. As a result of the incident, plaintiff
suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks,
and anxiety. Doc. #1 at 6.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Court 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. The
Court must accept as true all factual matters alleged in a
complaint, although a complaint may not survive unless its
factual recitations state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009); Mastafa v. Chevron Corp., 770 F.3d
170, 177 (2d Cir. 2014) (same). Nevertheless, it is
well-established that “pro 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).
recent years, the Supreme Court has set forth a threshold
“plausibility” pleading standard for courts to
evaluate the adequacy of federal court complaints. A
complaint must allege enough facts-as distinct from legal
conclusions-that give rise to plausible grounds for relief.
See, e.g., Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
Notwithstanding the rule of liberal interpretation of a
pro se complaint, a pro se complaint may
not survive dismissal if its factual allegations do not meet
the basic plausibility standard. See, e.g., Fowlkes v.
Ironworkers Local 40, 790 F.3d 378, 387 (2d Cir. 2015).
does not identify any constitutionally protected right that
was violated during this incident. The Court considers
possible claims for deliberate indifference to health and
safety and for threats or intimidation.
alleges that the CERT officers were making threatening and
profane statements. Verbal harassment or use of profanity,
without an accompanying injury, “no matter how
inappropriate, unprofessional, or reprehensible it might
seem, does not constitute the violation of a constitutional
right and is not actionable under section 1983.”
Little v. Municipal Corp., 51 F.Supp.3d 473, 500
(S.D.N.Y. 2014); see also Jean-Laurant v. Wilkerson,
438 F.Supp.2d 318, 325 (S.D.N.Y. 2006) (verbal intimidation
does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation);
Jermosen v. Coughlin, 878 F.Supp. 444, 449 (N.D.N.Y.
1995) (“Although indefensible and unprofessional,
verbal threats or abuse are not sufficient to state a
constitutional violation cognizable under §
1983.”). Plaintiff alleges that the officers, at most,
made threatening statements. He does not allege that any
officer touched him. Thus, he fails to state a cognizable
allegations also can be construed as a claim for deliberate
indifference to his health or safety. To establish a
constitutional violation, an inmate must show that the
conditions of his incarceration posed a substantial risk of
serious harm and that prison officials were deliberately
indifferent to his safety. See Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). Deliberate indifference exists if
prison officials know of and disregard an excessive risk to
inmate health or safety. See Id. at 837;
Salahuddin v. Goord, 467 F.3d 263, 280-81 (2d Cir.
2006) (defendants must have been actually aware of
substantial risk that inmate would suffer serious harm as
result of their actions or inactions); Bridgewater v.
Taylor, 698 F.Supp.2d 351, 358 (S.D.N.Y. 2010)
(explaining that defendants must be aware of facts supporting
an inference that harm would occur and must actually draw
alleges that he suffered a panic attack during the incident
and subsequently developed anxiety and post-traumatic stress
disorder. He alleges no facts, however, suggesting that any
defendant perceived any risk that he would have this reaction
to the apparent training exercise. Thus, he ...