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Sayles v. Congelos

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 1, 2018

LIEUTENANT CONGELOS, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Dwayne Sayles, currently incarcerated at the Garner Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut, filed this case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He asserts federal claims for use of excessive force and retaliation as well as state law claims for assault and battery. The plaintiff names six defendants in his amended complaint: Lieutenant Congelos, Correctional Officer Diorio, Correctional Officer Ortyl, Nurse Balatka, Lieutenant Guimond, and Correctional Officer Eshou. He seeks damages and injunctive and declaratory.

         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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This requirement applies to all prisoner filings regardless whether the prisoner pays the filing fee. Nicholson v. Lenczewski, 356 F.Supp.2d 157, 159 (D. Conn. 2005) (citing Carr v. Dvorin, 171 F.3d 115 (2d Cir. 1999) (per curiam)). Here, the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis.

         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.

         I. Allegations

         The incident underlying this action occurred while the plaintiff was a pretrial detainee confined at Northern Correctional Institution. ECF No. 10, ¶¶ 4-7. On July 22, 2016 the plaintiff was confined on in-cell restraint status, which consisted of shackles and handcuffs connected by a tether chain. Id., ¶ 8. He had been placed on this status for assaulting a correctional officer. Id., ¶ 9. Correctional policy requires that inmates on in-cell restraint status have their restraints checked periodically. Id., ¶ 10.

         On July 22, 2016, defendants Congelos, Ortyl, Diorio and Eshou came to perform this routine check. They did not bring a video camera to record the incident. Id., ¶ 11. Defendants Diorio and Ortyl held the plaintiff's arms while defendant Congelos checked the restraints. Defendant Ortyl struck the plaintiff in the head with a closed fist. Id., ¶ 12. The plaintiff had not made any threatening movements toward the officers. Id., ¶ 13. Defendant Congelos sprayed a chemical agent in the plaintiff's face while defendants Ortyl, Diorio, and Eshou continued to strike him. Id., ¶¶ 14-15. Additional staff responded to the incident and defendant Guimond sprayed the plaintiff with a chemical agent. Id., ¶ 16.

         The plaintiff was denied a shower to remove the chemical agent for several hours and experienced burning on his skin. Id., ¶ 17. He sustained lacerations to his forehead and left inner wrist, knee pain, a black eye, and broke blood vessels in his right eye. Id., ¶ 18. Defendant Balatka refused to document or treat these injuries. Id., ¶ 19.

         II. Analysis

         The plaintiff alleges that the defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his safety in violation of his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. More specifically, the Court considers the complaint to assert claims for use of excessive force and deliberate indifference to medical needs.

         A. Excessive Force

         The plaintiff alleges that the defendants used excessive force against him. As he was a pretrial detainee when the incident occurred, his claim is addressed under the Fourteenth Amendment. See Darnell v. Pineiro, 849 F.3d 17, 29 (2d Cir. 2017) (deliberate indifference claims of pretrial detainees considered under Fourteenth, rather than Eighth, Amendment).

         In Kingsley v. Hendrickson, U.S., 135 S.Ct. 2466 (2015), the Supreme Court concluded that excessive force claims brought under the Fourteenth Amendment do not require the same subjective intent standard as claims brought under the Eighth Amendment. “[A] pretrial detainee must show only that the force purposely or knowingly used against him was objectively unreasonable.” Id. at 2472-73.

         The plaintiff alleges that he was not threatening the officers while force was used against him. He alleges that he was in restraints for assaulting a correctional officer, implying that the force used was retribution for his prior actions. These allegations are sufficient to state a plausible ...

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