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Deegan v. Doe

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 13, 2019

OFFICER JOHN DOE #1, ET AL., Defendants.



         The plaintiff, Anthony Deegan, is incarcerated at the Garner Correctional Institution. He has filed a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Correctional Officer John Doe #1 (“Officer #1”), Correctional Officer John Doe #2 (“Officer #2”), Lieutenant John Doe #3 (“Lieutenant #3”), and Nurse Jane Doe #1 (“Nurse #1”). He also seeks the appointment of pro bono counsel. For the reasons set forth below, the court will dismiss the complaint in part and will grant the motion for appointment of counsel.

         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 still have an obligation to interpret “a pro se complaint 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).

         II. Facts

         On October 3, 2018, at Cheshire Correctional Institution, Officers #1 and #2 opened the door to Inmate Hallett's cell on the bottom tier of North Block #3, Inmate Hallett exited his cell, and proceeded up the stairs to the top tier to find the plaintiff. See Compl. at 4 ¶¶ 15-17. At that time, the plaintiff was using the telephone on the top tier. Id. ¶ 15. Id. Inmate Hallett located the plaintiff and began to assault him. Id. ¶ 17. The plaintiff attempted to defend himself. Id. at 5 ¶ 19.

         Officers #1 and #2 called a code to summon other staff members to the area where the plaintiff and Inmate Hallett were fighting. Id. ¶ 18. Officers #1 and #2 attempted to break up the fight before additional staff members arrived. Id. ¶ 19.

         The plaintiff put his hands up when Officers #1 and #2 directed him to stop fighting. Id. ¶ 20. At that point, Officers #1 and #2 sprayed the plaintiff in the face and upper body with a chemical agent. Id. ¶ 21. Although the plaintiff was not resisting or acting in an aggressive manner, Officers #1 and #2 threw him on the ground. Id. ¶ 22.

         After Lieutenant #3 arrived at the scene, he escorted the plaintiff to the medical area. Id. at 7 ¶ 31. The plaintiff complained of head pain and pain from the effects of the chemical agent. Id. Nurse #1 conducted a limited medical exam and cleared the plaintiff to be placed in a cell in the restrictive housing unit. Id. ¶¶ 31-32. Nurse #1 did not provide the plaintiff with any treatment. Id. ¶ 32. Nor did she refer the plaintiff to be seen by a doctor regarding his complaints of head pain. Id.

         During the plaintiff's escort to the restrictive housing unit, Lieutenant #3 ordered other correctional employees to decontaminate him from the effects of the chemical agent. Id. ¶ 33. The correctional employees placed the plaintiff in a shower for a few seconds. Id. This limited attempt to decontaminate the plaintiff was unsuccessful and the plaintiff continued to experience pain from the chemical agent residue on his skin after he arrived in the restrictive housing unit. Id. ¶ 34.

         Since the incident involving his altercation with Inmate Hallett, the plaintiff has suffered from pain due to an injury he sustained to his head. Id. ¶ 35. In addition, he has experienced and sought treatment for chronic headaches and intermittent photosensitivity. Id.

         III. Discussion

         The plaintiff contends that the defendants violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments rights in various ways. Officers #1 and #2 used excessive force against him, Lieutenant #3 failed to intervene to protect him from the use of force by Officers #1 and #2, Officers #1 and #2 and Lieutenant #3 were deliberately indifferent to his health and safety by failing to protect him from harm, and Lieutenant #3 and Nurse #1 were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs and health. The plaintiff also alleges that the conduct of Officers #1 and #2 constituted assault and battery under Connecticut law. He ...

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