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Delgado v. Ocasio

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 27, 2019

LUIS A. DELGADO, Plaintiff,
OFFICER KEVIN OCASIO, et al., Defendants.



         The plaintiff, Luis A. Delgado, is incarcerated at the Garner Correctional Institution (“Garner”) in Newtown, Connecticut. He has filed a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988 against Correctional Officers Kevin Ocasio, Matthew Colby, William St. John, Anthony Thibodeau, and John Doe. The plaintiff alleges inter alia that Officers Ocasio, Colby, St. John, and Thibodeau subjected him to excessive force during his confinement at Corrigan Correctional Institution (“Corrigan”). For the reasons set forth below, the court will dismiss the complaint in part.

         I. Standard of Review

         Pursuant 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).

         Although 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)). Although courts have an obligation to interpret “a pro se complaint liberally, ” the complaint must still 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).

         II. Facts

         On May 25, 2017, prior to being transported to Garner from Corrigan, Officer Ocasio ordered the plaintiff to submit to a strip search. See Compl. at 3 ¶¶ 7-8. After removing his clothes, the plaintiff dropped them on the floor instead of handing them to Officer Ocasio. Id. ¶ 8. Officer Ocasio became enraged and punched the plaintiff in the face. Id. ¶ 9. After the plaintiff fell to the floor, Officer Ocasio kicked him in the head and neck. Id. When Officers Colby, St. John, and Thibodeau responded to the scene, they punched, slapped, and kicked the plaintiff. Id. at 4 ¶ 10. During the use of force, Officers Colby, St. John, and Thibodeau accused the plaintiff of resisting their efforts to attempt to gain control over him. Id.

         Officers Ocasio, Colby, St. John, and Thibodeau subsequently placed the plaintiff in handcuffs and ankle restraints and medical staff members treated the plaintiff's injuries. Id. ¶¶ 10-11. Later that day Corrigan transferred the plaintiff to Garner. Id. ¶ 11.

         Upon his arrival at Garner, officials placed the plaintiff in a cell in the segregation unit for fifteen days. Id. The plaintiff asked Officer John Doe, who worked in the segregation unit, for an inmate request form and a grievance form. Id. Officer Doe indicated that he would not provide the plaintiff with either form. Id.

         Shortly after his arrival at Garner, a mental health staff member diagnosed the plaintiff as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety and prescribed medication to treat the conditions. Id. at 5 ¶ 13. The plaintiff continues to suffer from anxiety, depression, and back pain. Id. ¶ 14.

         III. Discussion

         The plaintiff contends that the defendants violated his Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. In addition to his federal constitutional claims, the plaintiff asserts several state law claims.

         A. Section 1983 - Interference with Administrative Remedies

          The plaintiff alleges that he was unable to exhaust his administrative remedies regarding the conduct of Officers Ocasio, Colby, St. John, and Thibodeau because Officer Doe refused to provide him with the necessary grievance forms. He claims that Officer Doe violated his due process rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

         1. Fifth Amendment

         The Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment applies only to actions by the United States government and federal employees. See, e.g., Dusenbery v. United States, 534 U.S. 161, 167 (2002) (holding that the Fifth Amendment's due process clause only protects citizens against the conduct of federal government officials, not state officials). The plaintiff is not suing federal officials. Accordingly, the Fifth Amendment due process claim is dismissed as lacking an arguable legal basis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).

         2. ...

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