United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Terrance Moore, an inmate currently incarcerated at
MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield,
Connecticut, has brought this civil rights action pro
se against various prison officials of Northern
Correctional Institution ("Northern C.I."), the
prison where he was previously housed, in Somers,
Connecticut. The defendants include Correction Officers
Parsons, Titus, Vargas, and Sanchez; Captain Robles;
Lieutenants Melendez and Prior; Warden Faneuff; and Deputy
Warden Molden. Moore is suing these defendants in their
official and individual capacities, and seeks monetary
damages from all defendants.
Judge Garfinkel granted Moore's motion to proceed in
forma pauperis on March 29, 2018. See Doc. 5.
The Court now reviews Moore's Complaint to determine
whether his claims are "frivolous" or may proceed
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the following reasons, the
Court dismisses his Complaint in part.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a
prisoner's civil complaint and dismiss any portion that
"(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief."
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2). Although
highly detailed allegations are not required, the complaint
"must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its
face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S 544, 570 (2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility
when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678. The complaint must provide "more than the
accusation." Id. "A pleading that offers
'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555).
a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will
[ultimately] . . . be a context-specific task that requires
the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and
common sense." Id. at 663-64. When
"well-pleaded factual allegations" are present,
"a court should assume their veracity and then determine
whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to
relief." Id. at 679. Factual disputes do not
factor into a plausibility analysis under Iqbal and
all allegations contained in the complaint are assumed to be
true, this tenet is 'inapplicable to legal
conclusions.'" LaMagna v. Brown, 474
Fed.Appx. 788, 789 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678). See also Amaker v. New York State Dept.
of Corr. Servs., 435 Fed.Appx. 52, 54 (2d Cir. 2011)
(same). Accordingly, the Court is not "bound to accept
conclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as
factual conclusions." Faber v. Metro. Life Ins.
Co., 648 F.3d 98, 104 (2d Cir. 2011) (quoting Rolon
v. Henneman, 517 F.3d 140, 149 (2d Cir. 2008) (quotation
marks omitted). Consequently, "[t]hreadbare recitals of
the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
respect to pro se litigants, it is well-established
that "[p]ro se submissions are
reviewed with special solicitude, and 'must be construed
liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments
that they suggest.'" Matheson v. Deutsche Bank
Nat'l Tr. Co., 706 Fed.Appx. 24, 26 (2d Cir. 2017)
(quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470
F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006) (per curiam)). See also
Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013)
(same); Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d
Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for
pro se litigants); Boykin v. KeyCorp., 521
F.3d 202, 214 (2d Cir. 2008) ("A document filed pro
se is to be liberally construed and a pro se
complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers." (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007))); Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed
Defendant, 537 F.3d 185, 191 (2d Cir. 2008) (Where the
plaintiff proceeds pro se, a court is "obliged
to construe his pleadings liberally." (quoting
McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d Cir.
2004))); Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir.
2007) (in reviewing a pro se complaint, the court
"must liberally construe [the] pleadings, and must
interpret [the] complaint to raise the strongest arguments it
being subject to liberal interpretation, a pro se
plaintiff's complaint still must "state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face." Mancuso v.
Hynes, 379 Fed.Appx. 60, 61 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Therefore, even in a
pro se case, "threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice." Chavis v.
Chappius, 618 F.3d 162, 170 (2d Cir. 2010) (quotation
marks and citation omitted). Nor may the Court "invent
factual allegations" that the plaintiff has not pleaded.
allegations in this Part are derived from the Complaint.
2017, Moore was housed at Northern Correctional Institution.
Doc. 1 (Complaint), ¶3. On or about July 7, 2017, Moore
was scheduled for a "social" telephone call, at
Northern's 2 west housing unit. Id., ¶11.
Starting at 3:00 p.m. on that date, at the beginning of the
second shift, Defendant Parsons began harassing Moore,
calling him a "snitch" for complaining to
Parson's supervisors about him. Id., ¶12.
Parsons also called Moore a "rat" and a
"wigger." Id. Parsons referenced
Moore's scheduled telephone call, saying, "let's
see how bad you are then" and that he was going to
"fuck [him] up." Id. Such threats and
harassment represented a continuation of a pattern of
behavior which had commenced some time ago. Id.
Parsons continued to taunt Plaintiff for the next several
approximately 7:00 p.m., Defendants Parsons and Titus
reported to Moore's cell for "what was supposed to
be" Plaintiff's scheduled telephone call.
Id., ¶14. Parsons approached Moore's cell
door, asked him if he was "ready to get fucked up,
" and then ordered Moore to place his hands through the
slot to be handcuffed. Id., ¶15. Moore complied
with Parsons' order without resistance. Id.
Parsons then applied the handcuffs on Moore's wrists
extremely tightly, "squeezing the cuffs [until] about
their last clicks, " causing Moore extreme pain.
Id., ¶16. This was done for the sole purpose of
causing Moore harm. Id. Moore screamed and pleaded
for the restraints to be loosened, but Parsons and Titus
ignored his cries, calling him a "bitch."
Id., ¶17. When Moore then requested the
presence of a supervisor, Parsons called him a "snitch
bitch." Id., ¶18. Parsons then summoned
for Moore's cell door to be opened and entered the cell.
entry into the cell, Parsons ordered Moore to kneel on his
bunk so that he could apply leg irons, and Moore complied.
Id., ¶21. Again, despite Moore's
compliance, Parsons applied the restraints in an extremely
tight manner, causing Moore extreme pain. Id.,
¶22. Parsons continued the harmful restraint
application, while Titus stood by and watched, deliberately
failing to intervene. Id., ¶23. Parsons
commented that Moore's cell was a "blindspot."
Id., ¶24. Moore, "in great fear and pain,
" turned to look back at Parsons and Titus, but Parsons,
using an expletive, immediately ordered Moore not to look at
him. Id., ¶25.
Moore voiced his intentions to complain to the supervisors,
Parsons yanked on Moore's leg irons, causing Moore to hit
his head on the edge of the bed as he fell to the cell floor.
Id., ¶26. While Moore was lying face down on
the floor, slightly dazed, distraught and in pain, Parsons
kicked and punched him several times. Id., ¶27.
Moore screamed for help and pleaded for Parsons to stop
hitting him, but the assault continued. Id.,
¶28. Fully restrained, Moore attempted to take cover
under a stationary mounted desk in his cell. Id.,
¶29. He was facing away from Parsons and Titus and was
not threatening in any way. Id. Nevertheless,
Parsons continued to assault him, calling Moore names.
Id., ¶30. Parsons dragged Moore across the
floor by his legs and leg iron chains, and continued to
strike him with his closed fists and knees. Id.,
¶¶31-2. Titus stood by and watched the assault,
without intervening. Id., ¶32.
two minutes into the assault, Parsons yelled to Titus that he
"could go ahead and call it now, " which prompted
Titus to falsely radio in a "signal-11, " which is
a Connecticut Department of Correction code for an unruly
inmate. Id., ¶33. Shortly thereafter,
Lieutenants Melendez and Prior arrived at Moore's cell
with several other correction officers. Id.,
¶34. Moore was struck several times by the responding
staff, who ignored his cries for help as he layon the ground,
compliant and not resisting. Id. Moore's head
and face were slammed against the ground several times, and
the officers attempted to strike him and grab at his face.
Id. ¶36-7. Melendez and Prior, who had been
standing by and watching, then unnecessarily sprayed the
compliant Moore with a chemical agent. Id.,
¶39. As a result of the attack, Moore suffered
contusions and lacerations on various parts of his body.
the assault, Melendez and Prior ordered that Moore be placed
on in-cell restraint status for approximately twenty-four
hours. Id., ¶42. Moore's hands were secured
in the front in cuffs, his legs were secured in leg irons,
and a tether chain connected the handcuffs to the leg irons.
Id. In addition to suffering extreme pain from the
assault, Moore was unable to walk freely, use the toilet, or
sleep properly because of the restraints. Id.,
¶43. The pain from his injuries was aggravated by the
use of the restraints. Id.
Claims Against Defendants in their Official
extent Moore seeks money damages from the defendants in their
official capacities, the claims are barred by the Eleventh
Amendment. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159
(1985); Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 342 (1979).
Although the Complaint states that Moore "seeks damages
in defendants' individual capacities only, " the
caption of the Complaint indicates that Defendants are
"sued in both individual and official capacities, "
and Moore does not seek injunctive relief. Doc. 1, at 1
(sic). "Generally, a suit for recovery of money may not
be maintained against the state itself, or against any agency
or department of the state, unless the state has waived its
sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment."
Auguste v. Dep't of Corr., 424 F.Supp.2d 363,
367 (D. Conn. 2006) (citations omitted). "[T]o the
extent that a State official is sued in his official
capacity, such a suit is deemed to be a suit against the
State, and the official is entitled to invoke the same
Eleventh Amendment immunity as that belonging to the
State." DeLoreto v. Ment, 944 F.Supp. 1023,
1031 (D. Conn. 1996). "However, state officials sued in
their individual capacities are not immune from personal
liability pursuant to § 1983." Credle-Brown v.
Connecticut, 502 F.Supp.2d 292, 299 ...