United States District Court, D. Connecticut
CHAZ O. GULLEY, Plaintiff,
LIMMER, et al., Defendants.
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER RE AMENDED COMPLAINT
R. Underhill United States District Judge.
Gulley, currently confined at Northern Correctional
Institution in Somers, Connecticut, filed this complaint
pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaining that
excessive force was used against him. The named defendants
are Lieutenant Limmer and Correctional Officer Sullivan. The
defendants are named in individual and official capacities.
Gulley's complaint was received on June 7, 2018, and his
motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on
June 14, 2018.
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
incident underlying the complaint occurred while Gulley was
confined at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution
(“MacDougall”). ECF No. 1 at 2, ¶ 3. On
March 17, 2018, Gulley returned to MacDougall from the
hospital where he had been taken for neck x-rays after a
suicide attempt. Gulley was taken to the infirmary to be
placed on suicide watch. Id., ¶ 5. Gulley was
compliant during the trips to and from the hospital and
during the escort to the infirmary. Id., ¶ 6.
officer operating a hand-held video camera was present to
record the escort to the infirmary and subsequent strip
search. Id. at 2-3, ¶ 7. When they entered Room
6 in the infirmary, Limmer ordered a controlled strip search.
Id. at 3, ¶ 8. Gulley told Limmer that a
controlled strip search was not required under prison
directives and asked that a regular strip search be
performed. Id., ¶ 9. Limmer ignored
Gulley's repeated requests for a regular strip search.
Id., ¶ 10.
officers proceeded with the controlled strip search, removing
Gulley's clothes so he could be placed in a safety gown.
Id., ¶ 11. Limmer ordered Gulley to squat and
cough. Gulley refused in protest. Id., ¶ 12.
Gulley has engaged in similar protests over the last ten
years whenever he believes that he is being mistreated.
Id., ¶ 13. He has been placed on in-cell
restraints or subjected to pressure point pain compliance
techniques. Id. at 4, ¶ 14.
has a “bad rapport/history” with Gulley.
Id., ¶ 19. Limmer ordered Sullivan to deliver
knee strikes to Gulley's knees, a practice not authorized
in prison directives. Id., ¶ 15. This practice
had never before been used on Gulley. Id., ¶
16. Although the knee strikes caused Gulley to suffer pain
and bruising, he continued to protest. Id., ¶
17. Limmer ordered correctional officers to confine Gulley in
4-point restraints. Gulley did not want to be restrained and
complied with the order to squat and cough. Id.,
¶ 18. II. Analysis Gulley asserts a claim for
use of excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment
and supplemental state law claims for assault and battery.
of excessive force against a prisoner can constitute cruel
and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 4 (1992);
accord Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34, 34, 36 (2010)
(per curiam). The “core judicial inquiry” is not
“whether a certain quantum of injury was sustained, but
rather 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).
alleges that the defendants used unapproved force against
him. He also alleges a bad relationship with Limmer,
suggesting that the decision regarding the force used was
based on an intent to cause harm rather than to restore
discipline. The Court concludes that Gulley has stated a
plausible claim for use of excessive force.
Gulley states that he names the defendants in individual and
official capacities, he seeks only damages. The Eleventh
Amendment bars claims for damages against state officials in
their official capacities unless the state has waived this
immunity or Congress has abrogated it. Kentucky v.
Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 169 (1985). Section 1983 does not
abrogate state sovereign immunity, Quern v. Jordan,
440 U.S. 332, 343 (1979), and Gulley has submitted no
evidence suggesting that Connecticut has waived its immunity.
Because Gulley cannot recover damages from the defendants in
their official capacities, any claims against Limmer and
Sullivan in their official capacities are dismissed.
claims against Limmer and Sullivan in their official
capacities are DISMISSED pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(2). The case will proceed on the
federal claim for use of excessive force and the supplemental
state law claims for ...