United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
A. DOOLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
December 12, 2018, the Plaintiff, Shaqille Brown, a pre-trial
detaineecurrently confined at the Northern
Correctional Institution in Somers, Connecticut, brought a
civil action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against two Connecticut Department of Correction
(“DOC”) officials in their individual capacities
- Officers Harrington and Forde. The Plaintiff claims that
the Defendants subjected him to excessive force, in violation
his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, while he was
confined at Bridgeport Correctional Center. He seeks monetary
damages and declaratory relief. On December 18, 2018,
Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel granted the
Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis.
For the following reasons, the complaint is dismissed in
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, 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. 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 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.” Bell Atlantic, 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
America, 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 se litigants).
25, 2018, the Plaintiff and defendant Harrington engaged in a
verbal altercation. Defendant Harrington punched the
Plaintiff in the face. The Plaintiff fought back to protect
himself, at which point defendant Forde yelled to defendant
Harrington to “beat his ass!” As the Plaintiff
“began getting the upper hand” in the fight,
defendant Forde became involved and hit him in his head and
back, causing him to fall into the bathroom. Both Defendants
then punched, kneed, and kicked the Plaintiff in his face,
head, and body, resulting in several injuries. Two other
inmates witnessed the assault on the Plaintiff and provided
statements that the Plaintiff was being assaulted and was
only attempting to defend himself.
Plaintiff claims that the Defendants' actions violated
his rights under the Eighth Amendment's protection
against cruel and unusual punishment and his Fourteenth
Amendment right to due process.
well-established that “[a] pretrial detainee's
claims of unconstitutional conditions of confinement are
governed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment, rather than the Cruel and Unusual Punishments
Clause of the Eighth Amendment . . . because ‘pretrial
detainees have not been convicted of a crime and thus may not
be punished in any manner - neither cruelly and unusually nor
otherwise.'” Darnell v. Pineiro, 849 F.3d
17, 29 (2d Cir. 2017) (citations omitted) (quoting Iqbal
v. Hasty, 490 F.3d 143, 168 (2d Cir. 2007); see also
Shakir v. Derby Police Department, 284 F.Supp.3d 165,
205 (D. Conn. 2018) (claim challenging conditions of
confinement during pretrial detention analyzed under
Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause). The Plaintiff's
Eighth Amendment claim is dismissed.
“[a] detainee's rights [under the Fourteenth
Amendment] are ‘at least as great as the Eighth
Amendment protections available to a convicted
prisoner.'” Darnell, 849 F.3d at 29
(quoting City of Revere v. Mass. Gen. Hosp., 463
U.S. 239, 244 (1983)). In order to state an excessive force
claim under the Fourteenth Amendment, the Plaintiff
“‘must show only that the force purposely or
knowingly used against him was objectively
unreasonable.'” Fletcher v. City of New
London, No. 3:16-CV-241 (MPS), 2018 WL 4604306, at *10
(D. Conn. Sept. 25, 2018) (quoting Kingsley v.
Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2473 (2015)).
“‘[O]bjective reasonableness turns on the facts
and circumstances of each particular case.'”
Id. (quoting Kingsley, 135 S.Ct. at 2473).
In Kingsley, the United States Supreme Court
identified several factors to consider in determining the
reasonableness or unreasonableness of the force used:
the relationship between the need for the use of force and
the amount of force used; the extent of the plaintiff's
injury; any effort made by the officer to temper or to limit
the amount of force; the severity of the security problem at
issue; the threat reasonably perceived by the officer; and
whether the plaintiff was actively resisting.
Kingsley, 135 S.Ct. at 2473. The determination is
made “from the perspective of a reasonable officer on
the scene, including what the officer knew at the time, not
with 20/20 vision of hindsight.” Id.
the Plaintiff's allegations liberally, the Court
concludes that he has stated a plausible excessive force
claim under the Fourteenth Amendment. He alleges that during
a verbal altercation, defendant Harrington punched him in the
face. He alleges that when he tried to protect himself, both
defendants proceeded to punch, knee and kick him several
times, causing him injuries. Based on these allegations, the
Court will permit the Fourteenth Amendment claim to proceed
against the Defendants in their individual capacities for
addition to damages, the Plaintiff seeks “[a]
declaratory judgment that the actions of [the Defendants]
violated the . . . Fourteenth Amendment of the United States
Constitution as well as [his] civil rights as a pretrial
detainee.” Declaratory relief serves to “settle
legal rights and remove uncertainty and insecurity from legal
relationships without awaiting a violation of that right or a
disturbance of the relationship.” Colabella v.
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, No.
10-CV-2291 (KAM) (ALC), 2011 WL 4532132, at *22 (E.D.N.Y.
Sept. 28, 2011) (citations omitted). It operates
prospectively to enable parties to adjudicate claims before
either side suffers damages. See In re Combustion Equip.
Assoc., Inc., 838 F.3d 35, 37 (2d Cir. 1998). The
alleged constitutional ...