United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
A. Dooley United States District Judge.
plaintiff, Shaka Shabbaz (“Shabazz”), recently
updated his address to reflect that he is no longer at a
halfway house and is currently confined at the Osborn
Correctional Institution. He initiated this action by filing
a civil rights complaint against Acting District Two Lead
Warden Jose Feliciano, District Two Lead Warden Peter Murphy,
Commissioner Scott Semple, Deputy Commissioners Cheryl
Cepelak and Monica Ellison, Deputy Warden Robert Martin,
Lieutenant Limmer, Correctional Officer Judy and Ms. Surfus.
See Compl., ECF No. 1, at 1-5. Shabazz challenges
the use of force by Lieutenant Limmer and Officer Judy on
February 21, 2015, and the failure of Ms. Surfus to provide
him with appropriate due process prior to and during a
disciplinary hearing held on February 26, 2015. For the
reasons set forth below, the complaint is dismissed in part.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the court must review prisoner
civil complaints against governmental actors and
“dismiss ... any portion of [a] complaint [that] is
frivolous, malicious, or 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.” Id. Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
detailed allegations are not required, “a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. A
claim has facial plausibility when a plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A
complaint that includes only “‘labels and
conclusions,' ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action' or ‘naked
assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement, '” does not meet the facial
plausibility standard. Id. (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557 (2007)). The
Court must interpret the factual allegations of a pro se
complaint “to raise the strongest arguments that they
suggest.” Grullon v. City of New Haven, 720
F.3d 133, 139 (2d Cir. 2013). And although a pro se
complaint must be construed liberally, the complaint must
include sufficient factual allegations to meet the standard
of facial plausibility. See Harris v. Mills, 572
F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).
February 21, 2015, in C-Unit at Corrigan Correctional
Institution (“Corrigan”), Shabazz had an argument
with Correctional Officer Judy. See Compl. at 3
¶ 4 & at 7 ¶16. In connection with this
argument, another correctional officer called a “signal
11 code” to summon other officers and officials to
C-Unit. See Id. at 7 ¶ 16 & Exs. A-1 and
B-1 at 28-31.
Limmer responded to the code and ordered Shabazz to turn and
face the wall, place his hands on the wall and not to move.
See Id. at 7 ¶ 16. At the same time, Officer
Judy repeatedly ordered Shabazz to put his hands behind his
back. See Id. at 8 ¶ 20. Because Shabazz
believed that he was required to follow the last order given
to him, he removed his hands from the wall and placed them
behind his back. See Id. at 9 ¶¶ 22-23.
Limmer then stated: “Now I can hurt you, You dumb N . .
.” and sprayed mace into Shabazz's eyes and face.
See Id. ¶ 23. The mace burned Shabazz's
face and made it difficult for him to breath. See
Id. Officer Judy then pulled Shabazz's arm off of
the wall in a jerking motion, place his arm behind his back
and stated: “That's what you get when you F. . .
with me.” See id.
Limmer ordered officers to escort Shabazz to the medical
unit. See Id. at 10 ¶ 25. On the way, officers
attempted to have Shabazz rinse the residue of mace from his
head and face by putting his head in the shower. See
Id. ¶ 27. Shabazz refused and requested to be
“decontaminated with a solution” specifically
made to rinse off the effects of mace from an
individual's skin and eyes. See id.
his arrival in the medical department, Shabazz asked Nurse
Barnes to use the solution to “decontaminate”
him from the effects of mace. See Id. ¶ 28.
Nurse Barnes informed Shabazz that the solution was not
available because the Department of Correction did not stock
the solution in the medical department. See Id.
Nurse Barnes indicated that Shabazz could rinse the residue
of mace from his head and face by placing his head under the
faucet of the sink in the medical unit. See Id.
Shabazz refused to follow this suggestion because he knew
that rinsing with water would only “rekindle” the
effects of the mace on his skin. See id.
Shabazz experienced three days and three nights of burning
skin, pain, loss of sleep and blurry vision. See Id.
at 11 ¶ 29. The blurry vision caused him to suffer
migraine headaches, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite and
to avoid recreation for four months. See Id. During
the four-month period after the incident, Shabazz experienced
pain around his eyes, mood changes, depression, a fear of
dying, anxiety and emotional trauma. See Id. at 20
February 25, 2015, after reviewing the videotapes of the
February 21, 2015 incident and the incident report, Deputy
Warden Martin (Martin) recommended further review of the
force used against Shabazz by Lieutenant Limmer. See
Id. at 12 ¶ 32 & at 39. On February 26, 2015,
Warden Santiago concurred with the Martin's assessment
and recommended that an investigation be undertaken regarding
the use of force by Lieutenant Limmer. See Id. at
39. On March 4, 2015, Acting District Two Lead Warden Jose
Feliciano (Feliciano) viewed the videotapes of the incident
with Lieutenant Limmer, Martin and Captain Shebenas. See
Id. at 39. Feliciano concluded that the use of force by
Lieutenant Limmer was necessary to maintain proper discipline
and to prevent escalation of the incident. See Id.
at 12 ¶ 33.
March 20, 2015, Shabazz filed a grievance claiming that
Lieutenant Limmer had used excessive and unjustified force
against him. See Id. at 44. On March 30, 2015,
Martin denied the grievance. See Id. at 13 ¶ 34
& at 44. On April 2, 2015, Shabazz appealed Martin's
decision. See Id. ¶ 35. On June 1, 2015,
without reviewing the videotapes of the use of force,
District Two Lead Warden Peter Murphy denied the appeal.
See Id. at 13-14 ¶¶ 35-37 & at 48.
Limmer issued Shabazz a disciplinary report in connection
with the incident that occurred on February 21, 2015. See
Id. at 15 ¶ 43. The Report documenting the incident
involving the use of force by Lieutenant Limmer reflects that
Shabazz received a Class A disciplinary report for flagrant
disobedience and a Class A Disciplinary Report for threats on
staff. See Id. at 31. Defendant Ms. Surfus was
Shabazz's advocate in connection with the issuance of at
least one of the disciplinary reports. See Id.
Shabazz informed Ms. Surfus that the video footage of the
incident would corroborate his behavior and would demonstrate
that he was not guilty of the disciplinary violation with
which he had been charged. See Id. ¶¶
43-44. Shabazz asked Ms. Surfus to procure a copy of the
video footage of the incident, to review the footage, to
review all incident reports prepared in connection with the
incident, to prepare her own investigation report, and to
provide him with a copy of her report before the hearing.
See Id. at 15-16 ¶¶ 44-45. Ms. Surfus
never met with Shabazz a second time and did not attend the
disciplinary hearing or submit the video footage of the
incident in support of Shabazz's defense. See
id. at 16-17 ¶¶ 46-48. In the report that she
prepared in advance of the hearing, she recommended that
Shabazz be found guilty. See Id. at 18 ¶ 48
& at 52.
participated in a disciplinary hearing on February 26, 2015.
See Id. at 50. The disciplinary hearing officer
found Shabazz guilty. See Id. at 18 ¶ 51.
Shabazz appealed the disciplinary finding. See Id.
sues the defendants in their individual capacities only and
seeks monetary relief. He asserts claims under the Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. In
addition, he contends that the defendants violated his rights
under Article First, § 9 of the Connecticut Constitution
and engaged in conduct that constituted the torts of
intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault and
Amendment Excessive Force - Lieutenant Limmer and Officer
alleges that he was attempting to comply with the orders
given to him by Lieutenant Limmer and Officer Judy when
Lieutenant Limmer sprayed him in the face and eyes with mace.
Officer Judy then jerked Shabazz's left hand off the
Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1 (1992), the Supreme
Court established the minimum standard to be applied in
determining whether force by a correctional officer against a
sentenced inmate states a constitutional claim under the
Eighth Amendment in contexts other than prison disturbances.
When an inmate claims that excessive force has been used
against him by a prison official, he has the burden of