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Holder v. Wright

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 14, 2020

BRIAN WRIGHT, et al., Defendants.


          Stefan R. Underhill, United States District Judge.

         Koil Demetrous Holder has filed the instant civil rights action against Chief State Marshal Brian Wright and the State Marshal Commission (collectively, “Defendants”), claiming that he was injured when he fell down the stairs while in the custody of Connecticut State Marshals. Holder asserts First and Eighth Amendment claims under 42 U.S.C § 1983 against Defendants, and seeks monetary damages. For the reasons set forth below, the complaint is dismissed with leave to amend.

         I. Standard of Review

         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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). 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. See Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). In addition, the plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, and conclusory allegations will not suffice, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). 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 afforded to pro se litigants).

         II. Facts

         On April 25, 2019, Connecticut State Marshals transported Holder in handcuffs and leg shackles from Corrigan-Radgowski to the New London Superior Court, Geographical Area 10, 112 Broad Street in New London, Connecticut. See Compl., Doc. No. 1, at 2, 4. At approximately 2:00 p.m., State Marshals Thompson and Lee Ann Vertefeuille were present with Holder at the top of a flight of stairs in the courthouse. See Id. at 4. Holder was restrained in handcuffs and leg shackles, and was holding an envelope containing legal documents. See Id. The area at the top of the stairs were wet, as were the stairs. See Id. Neither Thompson nor Vertefeuille walked beside Holder as Holder descended the stairs. See Id. Holder slipped and fell, hitting a brick wall and injuring his neck and back. See Id. Thompson did not seek medical attention for Holder following the fall. See Id. at 5. Instead, Thompson escorted Holder to the prison van, to be transported back to Corrigan-Radgowski. See id.

         III. Discussion

         A. State Marshal Commission

         Because the State Marshal Commission does not qualify as a “person” under section 1983, I must dismiss all claims asserted against it. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage, of any State . . . subjects or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress. . . .”).

         The State Marshal Commission is an entity within the Administrative Services Department. See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 6-38b(k) (“The [State Marshal [C]ommission shall be within the Department of Administrative Services”). The Administrative Services Department is, in turn, a department within the executive branch of the State of Connecticut. See Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-38c (“There shall be within the executive branch of state government the following departments: . . . Department of Administrative Services . . . .”).

         As an entity that is part of a department within the executive branch of Connecticut's government, the State Marshal Commission is not a person subject to liability under section 1983. See Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 63, 70-71 (1989) (“States [and] governmental entities that are considered arms of the State” are not persons within meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). All claims asserted against the State Marshal Commission are therefore dismissed because they lack an arguable legal basis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).

         B. Chief Marshal Brian Wright

         I must also dismiss all claims asserted against Chief Marshal Brian Wright. A plaintiff seeking to recover money damages under section 1983 from a defendant in his or her individual capacity “must show, inter alia, the defendant's personal involvement in the alleged constitutional deprivation.” Grullon v. City of New Haven, 720 F.3d 133, 138 (2d Cir. 2013) (internal citations omitted). Thus, “liability for supervisory government officials cannot be premised on a theory of respondeat superior because ยง 1983 requires individual, personalized liability on the part of ...

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