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Orr v. Marquis

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 10, 2019

ANTHONY D. ORR, Plaintiff,


          Michael P. Shea, United States District Judge

         On November 26, 2018, the plaintiff, Anthony D. Orr, a pro se inmate currently confined at the Cheshire Correctional Institution (“Cheshire”) in Connecticut, brought a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against six Department of Correction (“DOC”) officials: Lieutenant Marquis, Correction Officer John Doe 1, Correction Officer John Doe 2, Nurse Jane Doe, Warden Erfe, and Correction Officer Rodriguez. Compl. (ECF No. 1) at 1-2. The plaintiff seeks monetary and injunctive relief against the defendants for subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Id. at 14-15. For the following reasons, the complaint is dismissed in part.

         I. Standard of Review

         Under 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. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the [C]ourt to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 556). 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).

         II. Factual Allegations

         In July of 2018, Warden Erfe ordered that coolers of ice water be issued to the south block units at Cheshire because the air conditioner was not working. Compl. ¶ 1. At approximately 8:45 p.m. on July 28, the plaintiff reported to the medical line to receive his medications. Id. at ¶ 2. When he left the medical unit and proceed back to his housing unit, he decided to get a drink of water from the one of the coolers. Id. at ¶ 3. He entered his cell, retrieved a cup, and went to the cooler to obtain some water, but the cooler was empty. Id. at ¶ 4. Another inmate named Lewis had also attempted to get some water but could not do so. Id. Lewis and the plaintiff then lifted the cooler off the table and brought it to the correction officer's desk. Id. at ¶ 5.

         On their way to the desk, Officer Rodriguez stopped the two inmates and ordered them to put the cooler back on the table. Compl. ¶ 6. When the plaintiff explained to Rodriguez that the warden had issued the cooler for inmate use, Rodriguez dismissed him saying, “I said no, put it back.” Id. The two inmates then placed the cooler back on the table, and the plaintiff asked Rodriguez to call a lieutenant to the area. Id. at ¶ 7. The plaintiff heard Rodriguez mutter “something like ‘challenge my authority'” and then saw him make a phone call. Id. at ¶ 8.

         Approximately a minute or so later, Lieutenant Marquis arrived in the unit. Compl. ¶ 9. The plaintiff tried to explain the situation to Marquis, but Marquis just told the plaintiff to sit down. Id. Rodriguez then told Marquis “about things that didn't happen” between him and the plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 10. Again, the plaintiff tried to interject, but Marquis told him to sit down. Id.

         Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff caught out of the corner of his eye someone quietly walking toward him. Compl. ¶ 12. When he turned his head to see who the individual was, the plaintiff saw Marquis holding a can of chemical mace at his face. Id. The plaintiff raised his hands and attempted to tell Marquis that he has asthma, but Marquis sprayed him in his mouth and face. Id. at ¶ 13. Two other correction officers, John Does 1 and 2, then tackled the plaintiff to the floor. Id.

         The plaintiff could not discern how many officers were on top of him, but it was definitely more than two. Compl. ¶ 14. While pinned to the floor, the plaintiff yelled that he was not resisting, but Marquis continued to spray mace into his mouth while the officers held him down. Id. The officers then placed handcuffs on the plaintiff, brought him to his feet, and proceeded to escort him to the restrictive housing unit (“RHU”). Id. at ¶ 15. The plaintiff starting yelling that he had only wanted water and asking why he had been pepper sprayed, but Does 1 and 2 applied more pressure to his handcuffs, which caused him pain. Id. at ¶ 16. He continued to yell, “You'r[e] hurting me[!] Why did the [lieutenant] mace me? I only wanted water! You'[re] hurting my wrist[!] Stop!” Compl. ¶ 17. At that moment, his asthma acted up and he yelled that he could not breathe. Id.

         When they arrived at the RHU, Marquis ordered Does 1 and 2 to strip search the plaintiff, and the officers complied. Compl. ¶ 18. The officers then placed the plaintiff in the RHU cell with in-cell “black box” restraints. Id. Nurse Jane Doe arrived shortly thereafter and examined the plaintiff's wrist, which was bruised and swollen. Id. at ¶ 19. She told the plaintiff that he would “be okay.” Id. No photographs were taken of the plaintiff's injury. Id.

         The plaintiff was kept in in-cell restraints for over twenty-four hours and confined in the RHU for ten days. Compl. ¶¶ 21, 24. He was never provided with any incident report regarding the use of force or his placement in the RHU. Id. at ¶ 23. Rodriguez later wrote the plaintiff a disciplinary ticket for “flagrant disobedience.” Id. at ¶ 24.

         On July 30 and September 5, the plaintiff filed grievances regarding the use of force on July 28, the latter of which was returned without disposition because the plaintiff did not seek informal resolution with the officers involved. Compl. ¶ 25. He also wrote a request to Warden Erfe and the deputy warden that they call the state police to report the assault, but he never received a response. Id. at ¶ 26. The plaintiff filed a freedom of information (“FOI”) request for all reports made in connection with the July 28 incident, but to date, he has not received all the requested documents. Id. at ¶ 27.

         In later September of 2018, the plaintiff stopped Warden Erfe in his housing unit and told him about the assault on July 28 and the tight handcuffs that caused him pain in his wrist. Compl. ¶ 28. He added that he would like to use the telephone to call the state police about the assault. ...

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