United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON PENDING MOTIONS
R. UNDERHILL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
January 3, 2018, Joel Matias, an inmate currently confined at
MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution
(“MWCI”) in Suffield, Connecticut, brought a
civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
four Department of Correction (“DOC”) employees
(Warden Chapdelaine, Counselor Supervisor R. Weldon,
Correction Officer Exelee Anderson, and Captain Ogando), and
Mark Silver, another inmate at MWCI. After initial review, I
permitted Matias' Eighth Amendment and negligence claims
to proceed against Anderson in her individual and official
capacities for failing to protect him from harm. See
Initial Review Order, Doc. No. 7 at 4-5, 10. I also exercised
supplemental jurisdiction over Matias' state law assault
and battery claims and permitted them to proceed against
Silver. Id. at 8-10. The claims against the other
defendants were dismissed. Id. at 10.
Motion to Dismiss (Doc. Nos. 25, 26)
11, 2018, Silver filed the instant motion to dismiss the
assault and battery claims against him. Mot. to Dismiss, Doc.
Nos. 25, 26. He makes several arguments countering
Matias' allegations regarding the assault and contends
that he should not be held liable for Matias' injuries.
Although he does not state the specific legal grounds for his
motion, I construe his motion as grounded in Matias'
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Matias filed
his written opposition to Silver's motion on August 30,
2018. Pl.'s Mot. in Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. to
Dismiss (“Pl.'s Opp'n”), Doc. No. 32. In
it, Matias challenges the factual arguments raised in
Silver's motion and makes new allegations regarding
Silver's liability for the assault. Id. For the
following reasons, Silver's motion to dismiss is
Standard of Review
survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), “a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief 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 . . . plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant[s] [are] liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. The plausibility
standard is not a probability requirement; the complaint must
show, not merely allege, that the plaintiff is entitled to
relief. See id.
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 Ashcroft,
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) (internal
quotation marks omitted)). Consequently, “[t]hreadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”
Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555).
. . . the complaint was filed pro se, it must be
construed liberally with ‘special solicitude' and
interpreted to raise the strongest claims that it
suggests.” Hogan v. Fischer, 738 F.3d 509, 515
(2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Hill v. Curcione, 657 F.3d
116, 122 (2d Cir. 2011)). Nevertheless, 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
Ashcroft, 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) (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted).
stated in my Initial Review Order, Matias makes the following
factual allegations in his complaint against Anderson and
Silver. At all relevant times, Matias was confined at MWCI.
Compl., Doc. No. 1 at ¶ 3. On February 2, 2017, he was
transferred from the M-Pod housing unit to the L-Pod housing
unit. Id. at ¶ 10. Upon arrival, Anderson
informed him that he would be placed in Cell 21. Id.
As Matias attempted to enter Cell 21, Silver, the other
inmate assigned to that cell, became belligerent and blocked
Matias' entry. Id. at ¶ 11. Silver
adamantly expressed to Anderson that he was unwilling to
accept a cellmate because he had been granted single cell
status and would only accept a cellmate of his choosing.
Id. at ¶ 12. Silver showed Anderson
documentation that his single cell status had been granted,
but Anderson ignored his demands. Id. at ¶ 13.
Silver had threatened Matias several times, Matias “did
not try to move into cell 21, ” but Anderson told him
that, if he did not enter the cell, he would be taken to
segregation. Compl. ¶ 15. Matias reluctantly entered the
cell. See Id. Approximately ten minutes later,
Silver assaulted Matias, rendering him unconscious and
causing him severe injuries. Id. at ¶¶
15-16. Matias was immediately transported to UConn Medical
Center for treatment. Id. at ¶ 16.
time of the incident, Matias was disabled and could barely
walk without the assistance of medical staff or a walker and
could not defend himself against Silver. Compl., Doc. No. 1
at ¶ 17-18. He continues to suffer headaches and neck
and back pain as a result of the assault. Id.
already ruled in my Initial Review Order, Matias'
allegations state plausible claims of assault and battery,
over which I exercised supplemental
jurisdiction. Initial Review Order, Doc. No. 7 at 8-9.
“A civil assault is defined, [under Connecticut law],
as ‘the intentional causing of imminent apprehension of
harmful or offensive contact with another.'”
Germano v. Dzurenda, No. 3:09-cv-1316 (SRU), 2011 WL
1214435, *22 (D. Conn. Mar. 28, 2011) (quoting Dewitt v.
John Hancock Mutual Life Ins. Co., 5 Conn.App. 590, 594
(1985)). “[A]n actor is subject to liability to another
for battery if (a) he acts intending to cause a harmful or
offensive contact with the person of the other or a third
person, or an imminent apprehension of such a contact, and
(b) a harmful contact with the person of the other directly
or indirectly results.” Id. (quoting
Alteiri v. Colasso, 168 Conn. 329, 334 n.3 (1975)).
Matias has alleged that Silver objected to receiving Matias
as a cellmate, and when Anderson placed Matias in the cell,
Silver physically assaulted him, rendering him ...