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Gulley v. Bujnicki

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 25, 2019

CHAZ O. GULLEY, Plaintiff,
BUJNICKI, et al., Defendants.



         Chaz O. Gulley (“Gulley”), currently confined at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Uncasville, Connecticut, filed this complaint pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 principally alleging that the defendants used excessive force against him while he was confined at Northern Correctional Institution. He names thirteen defendants: Lieutenant Bujnicki, Lieutenant Blackstock, Lieutenant Josephiak, Correctional Officer Buciour, Correctional Officer Sanchez, Correctional Officer Ackerman, Nurse Kay, Nurse Lisa Fryer, Lieutenant Hollister, Administrative Remedies Coordinator Schold, Warden Nick Rodriguez, Warden Mudano, and Correctional Officer Titus. Gulley asserts a federal claim for use of excessive force and state law claims for assault/sexual assault and battery. He seeks damages from the defendants in their individual capacities. Gulley's complaint is dated May 28, 2019. It was received on June 11, 2019, and his motion to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on June 17, 2019.

         Under section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code, I 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. 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 plausible 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.” Twombly, 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 Am., 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).

         I. Allegations

         A. Excessive Force / Cruel and Unusual Punishment / Sexual Assault

         On February 4, 2019, Gulley covered his cell door window to attract the attention of the unit manager. Gulley wanted to know why he had been placed on “rec alone status” in the Security Risk Group (“SRG”) unit. He felt that the status made him an outcast and put him in danger. ECF No. 1, ¶ 8.

         Lieutenants Blackstock and Josephiak responded to the covered window and decided to place Gulley in in-cell restraints. Id., ¶ 9. Gulley spoke calmly to Mental Health Social Worker Sarah and was respectful to all the officers. He did not understand why he was put in in-cell restraints for an issue that could have been resolved easily. Id., ¶ 10.

         After Gulley ignored several orders to be handcuffed, a chemical agent was deployed into his cell. Id., ¶ 11. He then submitted to being handcuffed. Id., ¶ 12. Gulley was taken to the medical unit for decontamination and escorted to cell 102 to be placed on in-cell restraints. Id., ¶ 13. While the restraints were being applied, Gulley was naked to the waist. The battery in the handheld camera ran out of power for five minutes. Id., ¶ 14.

         During that time, the officers and supervisors made lewd, sexual, and disrespectful remarks while Officers Titus, Buciour, and Sanchez brushed against and touched Gulley's genital area and buttocks. Although they made the touching seem accidental, Gulley believes the touching was intentional. Gulley felt violated and extremely uncomfortable. Id., ¶ 15. Lieutenant Josephiak, Nurse Kay, and camera operator Officer Ackerman watched Gulley indifferently. Id., ¶ 16.

         When the camera came on again, everyone acted professionally. When Gulley asked to be taken to the medical unit to be checked for bruising, Nurse Kay said that she had been there the entire time and did not witness any officer assaulting Gulley. Id., ¶ 17. Gulley asked Lieutenant Blackstock for a Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”) complaint. Id., ¶ 18.

         When the restraints had been applied, Lieutenant Blackstock ordered Officer Buciour to tighten the restraint on Gulley's right hand. Gulley has been taking medication since 2011 for nerve damage in his right hand. Id., ¶ 9. Gulley complained to Nurse Kay. She approved the application even though there was not enough space to insert one finger between Gulley's wrist and the handcuff. Id., ¶ 20. Gulley reported pain and numbness to Social Worker Sarah and showed her his right hand. She reported her observations and Gulley's complaints to the custody officers. Id., ¶ 21. The restraints were loosened slightly on the second shift when Nurse Bob reported the tightness of the handcuff. Id., ¶ 22.

         The following day, Gulley was escorted to speak to the state police regarding his PREA complaint. Id., ¶ 23. After speaking to the state trooper and requesting an attorney be present, the interview concluded. Gulley was returned to cell 102. He remained on in-cell restraint status. Id., ¶ 24.

         During the escort back to his cell, Lieutenant Bujnicki directed the officers to “lie him face down on the bunk.” Id., ¶ 25. Because plaintiff was wearing the in-cell restraints, he was only able to lie sideways. Id., ¶ 26. Lieutenant Bujnicki issued Gulley a disciplinary report stating that he was being passive/aggressive. He stated that Gulley showed Lieutenant Bujnicki his penis and stated, “Do you want some of this?” Id., ¶ 27. The disciplinary report was dismissed based on camera evidence. Id., ¶ 28.

         Gulley remained on in-cell restraint status until February 6, 2019, even though he was calm and compliant. Id., ΒΆ 30. While he was on in-cell restraints, Gulley complained to Nurse Fryer and Lieutenant Hollister that the restraints were tight. When the restraints were removed, Gulley showed Nurse Fryer the severe bruising on his wrists. Nurse Fryer told Lieutenant Hollister that everything was ...

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