United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge
case involves claims brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by
plaintiff Tajuan Holloman (“Holloman”) against 26
defendants. Pending before the Court is the joint motion of
six of the defendants to dismiss the complaint for failure to
state claims upon which relief can be granted. For the
reasons that follow, the motion will be allowed, in part, and
denied, in part.
is an inmate currently incarcerated in the Massachusetts
Correctional Institution in Shirley, Massachusetts.
Holloman's claims arise mostly from events that occurred
while he was a pretrial detainee having been transferred from
the Suffolk County Jail to the Massachusetts Correctional
Institution at Concord (“MCI-Concord”). Holloman
has also made claims relating to later events, which occurred
while he was detained at the Souza Baranowski Correctional
his preliminary screening of the case, United States District
Judge Douglas P. Woodlock of this Court issued a memorandum
and order (Docket No. 15) directing the issuance of summons
for service upon 11 of the defendants, including the six
defendants moving to dismiss here. In doing so, Judge
Woodlock found that, for purposes of a preliminary screening,
Holloman had stated claims for excessive force, failure to
intervene, retaliation and denial of due process. Judge
Woodlock also directed Holloman to show cause why his claims
against the other 15 defendants should not be dismissed.
After Judge Woodlock took senior status, the action was
reassigned to this session on June 9, 2015.
Court has granted Holloman several extensions of time to file
his show cause response, denied his request for a subpoena,
granted, in part, defendants' motion to stay the
proceedings and denied plaintiff's motions for default
judgment and reconsideration.
January, 2016, this Court issued a memorandum and order
allowing Holloman to proceed against defendants David Deakin,
Harold Clarke, James Bender, Lois Russo, John Brodbeck and
Jorma Maenpaa. It also allowed the action to proceed against
defendants Brian McDonald (“MacDonald”), Sergeant
Fasoli, Michael Rodrigues, Gregory Bedard, James Thornton and
Shelley Williams and denied the motions of defendants Anthony
Mendosa, Luis Spencer, Pamela O'Dell, Kristie Ladouceur
and Thomas Fedel to dismiss for lack of service.
Holloman's claims against Nick Palodian, Thomas Tocci and
f/n/u Wendover relating to interference with legal mail and
denial of access to the courts were dismissed sua
sponte because Holloman failed to show good cause why
the claims should not be dismissed.
the defendants, namely, Aaron Gill, Lieutenant Ferrarra,
Frank Maine, Bruce Gelb, Amy Owens and Jeffrey Daigneault,
filed a joint motion to dismiss in October, 2015. That motion
is the subject matter of this memorandum.
Motion to Dismiss
survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain
“sufficient factual matter” to state a claim for
relief that is actionable as a matter of law and
“plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 667 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is
facially plausible if, after accepting as true all
non-conclusory factual allegations, the court can draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged. Ocasio-Hernandez v.
Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011). A court
may not disregard properly pled factual allegations even if
actual proof of those facts is improbable. Id.
Rather, the relevant inquiry focuses on the reasonableness of
the inference of liability that the plaintiff is asking the
court to draw. Id. at 13.
rendering that determination, a court may not look beyond the
facts alleged in the complaint, documents incorporated by
reference therein and facts susceptible to judicial notice.
Haley v. City of Boston, 657 F.3d 39, 46 (1st Cir.
Claims Against Gill, Ferrarra and Maine for Excessive
alleges that defendant Gill ordered his team to beat Holloman
while he was in handcuffs and that Gill participated in the
alleged beating by kneeing Holloman in the groin multiple
times. Holloman then asserts he was dragged to the booking
area for transportation and that Ferrarra and Maine watched
Gill and his team beat Holloman without intervening. Holloman
contends that those actions (and failures to act) violated
his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment and his
Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual
Ferrarra and Maine respond that any use of force against the
plaintiff was constitutionally “de minimis” and
does not give rise to a claim for excessive force.
time of the alleged incidents, Holloman was a pretrial
detainee, so the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process
Clause governs Holloman's claims for excessive force.
See Miranda-Rivera v. Toledo-Davila, 813 F.3d 64, 70
(1st Cir. 2016) (citing Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135
S.Ct. 2466, 2473-74 (2015)). To establish a claim for
excessive force, the plaintiff must show that the defendant