United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER OF AMENDED COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO
28 U.S.C. § 1915A
JEFFREY ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jean Jacques is a prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut
Department of Correction (“DOC”), and he is
currently incarcerated at Cheshire Correctional Institution.
On February 20, 2018, Jacques filed a complaint pro
se and in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against the DOC and several correctional officials for
alleged violations of Jacques's right to be free from
cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.
After my initial review, I concluded that Jacques failed to
state a plausible claim for relief under 28 U.S.C. §
1915A against any of the defendants and dismissed the
complaint subject to amendment. See Doc. #11 at 6;
Jacques v. Dep't of Correction, 2018 WL 2390141
(D. Conn. 2018).
has now filed an amended complaint, naming as defendants the
DOC, Warden Anthony Santiago, Captain Shabenas, Lieutenant
Marston, Lieutenant Conger, and Officers Ayala, Martin,
Evans, Sposa, Quesnal, Colby, Montanari, and Reynoso. Doc.
#14 at 1 (amended complaint). All of the defendants are being
sued in their individual and official capacities for
monetary, declaratory, and injunctive relief. Ibid.
After initial review, I conclude that Jacques has not alleged
plausible claims for relief against any of the defendants in
their official capacities, nor has Jacques alleged a
plausible First Amendment claim for relief against Marston. I
will therefore dismiss those claims. However, I conclude that
Jacques does allege plausible Eighth Amendment claims against
all defendants in their individual capacities except for the
Santiago and the DOC, and I will therefore allow those claims
following facts are assumed to be true solely for purposes of
my initial evaluation of the adequacy of the allegations in
the amended complaint. On July 13, 2015, Jacques was
incarcerated at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center.
Id. at 2, 4 (¶¶ 3, 18). He was suffering
from a head injury and was lying on his bed in the medical
unit. Id. at 4 (¶ 18). He was scheduled to be
in court at 9:30 a.m., and was awoken by a loud banging on
his cell door. Ibid. He stood up from his bed and
approached the door where he encountered Lieutenant Marston.
Ibid. Marston screamed that Jacques was refusing to
go to court and told him to “get the hell away from the
door.” Ibid. Lieutenants Marston and Conger
and Officers Martin, Ayala, Evans, Sposa, Colby, Quesnal,
Montanari, and Reynoso then entered Jacques's cell.
Ibid. Marston continued to yell at Jacques and
sprayed what Jacques describes as a chemical agent or pepper
spray all over Jacques's body, causing Jacques to fall to
the floor and hit his head. Ibid. Jacques alleges
that the officers then kicked and punched him. Ibid.
Jacques was on the floor, Evans pressed Jacques's head
against the floor and punched him in his right eye.
Id. at 5 (¶ 19). Montanari kicked him in the
head. Id. (¶ 20). Montanari and Reynoso then
stomped on his bare feet with their heavy boots. Id.
(¶ 21). Colby, Sposa, Martin, Montanari, Quesnal, and
Reynoso put their knees on Jacques's back and told him to
stop resisting, even though Jacques had not been resisting
any of them. Id. (¶ 22). Jacques tried to open
his eyes, but the pain from the chemical agent prevented him
from doing so, and the officers refused to let him wash the
agent out of his eyes. Id. (¶ 23). The officers
then lifted Jacques, placed him in a wheelchair, and escorted
him out of the medical unit in preparation for court
transport. Id. (¶ 24).
and Reynoso brought Jacques to court. Id. (¶
25). Because of the chemical agent and injuries to his head,
Jacques was unable to speak or open his eyes when Judge
Strackbein, who was presiding, addressed him, nor was he able
to communicate with his attorney or his Haitian interpreter.
Ibid. Judge Strackbein noted for the court record
that Jacques seemed “unresponsive.” Id.
at 6 (¶ 26). During the transport back from the
courthouse to Corrigan, Montanari and Reynoso turned up the
heat in the transport, causing his skin and eyes to burn.
See Id. (¶ 28). Jacques was still suffering
from the injuries he suffered from the assault earlier that
arrived back at Corrigan, Jacques was placed in segregation
after a brief time in the mental health unit. Id.
(¶ 29). While in segregation, Jacques was denied a
shower and adequate hygiene products, including soap,
shampoo, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and toilet paper.
Ibid. He was also denied his antibiotic and blood
pressure medications. Ibid. The denial of these
products and services led Jacques to develop an infection in
his mouth, which resulted in the loss of two of his teeth.
Id. at 6-7 (¶¶ 29-30). At one point,
Jacques attempted to communicate with Warden Santiago using
hand gestures because he was still unable to speak.
Id. at 7 (¶ 30). Santiago told him that if he
did not talk, he was “not gonna waste his time”
with him. Ibid.
Corrigan officials continued to deny Jacques necessary
hygiene products. Ibid. Jacques also alleges that he
repeatedly requested a CAT scan, but that officials denied
that request as well. Id. (¶ 31). As a result
of the assault on July 13 and the denial of adequate care
thereafter, Jacques suffered severe physical injuries,
bruises to his face and body, migraine headaches, dizziness,
and emotional distress. Id. (¶ 32). Jacques
names one or more defendants in association with the assault
in the medical unit, the transport to and from court, and his
time in segregation, but does not name any defendants
associated with his treatment in the mental health unit or
with the denial of a CAT scan.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Court must review a
prisoner's civil complaint against a governmental entity
or governmental actors and “identify cognizable claims
or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if
the complaint-(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.” If the prisoner is proceeding pro se,
the allegations of the complaint must be read liberally to
raise the strongest arguments that they suggest. See
Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010).
recent years, the Supreme Court has set forth a threshold
“plausibility” pleading standard for courts to
evaluate the adequacy of allegations in 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., Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); 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).
lists the DOC as a defendant in the caption of his amended
complaint. Doc. #14 at 1. As I stated in my prior initial
review order, a state agency such as the DOC is not a person
subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See
Doc. #11 at 4 (citing Will v. Mich. Dep't of
StatePolice, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (state and
state agencies not persons within meaning of § 1983) and