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Saintcome v. Tully

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

November 8, 2017

William Saintcome, Plaintiff,
v.
Jason Tully, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge

         This case arises from an alleged incident of excessive force against a restrained, pre-trial detainee. Plaintiff William Saintcome (“Saintcome” or “plaintiff”) asserts that two defendant correctional officers, Officer Jason Tully (“Tully”) and Officer C. Perrin (“Perrin”), deprived him of his civil rights. Saintcome alleges that while he was awaiting release from the segregation unit of the Billerica House of Corrections (“BHOC”) in Billerica, Massachusetts, the defendant officers used improper, excessive force against him in violation of his constitutional rights under the Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. He also alleges state tort claims of assault and battery against both defendants.

         Pending before the Court are defendants' motion to dismiss and plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel. For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel will be denied and defendants' motion to dismiss will also be denied.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff is a prisoner at Massachusetts Correctional Institution - Concord appearing pro se. Prior to his incarceration in that facility, he was imprisoned awaiting trial at the BHOC.

         Saintcome alleges that on November 12, 2014, he was scheduled to be released from the BHOC's segregation unit. Defendant Perrin and a third corrections officer, Officer Corindina (“Corindina”), had placed Saintcome in restraints before his daily recreation time. When time came to remove the restraints, defendant Tully appeared. Saintcome requested that Corindina, rather than Tully, remove the restraints. He did so because of a prior verbal confrontation with Tully, when the officer allegedly denied him a meal that satisfied his religious dietary restrictions and Tully made derogatory remarks about plaintiff's Islamic faith.

         According to the complaint, when Saintcome requested that Corindina remove his restraints, Tully slammed his head into the cell wall and pushed him onto the bunk where his head hit the metal frame. Perrin then allegedly entered the cell and elbowed Saintcome four times in the face before Corindina intervened and commanded Tully to leave, at which time Tully allegedly engaged in another tirade of racial and religious epithets.

         On October 14, 2016, plaintiff filed a complaint alleging violations of his civil rights against Officers Tully and Perrin.

         II. Analysis

         Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a defendant may move to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Rule 12(b)(6) requires that a complaint 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. Application

         Defendant claims that the complaint should be dismissed because 1) defendants' alleged use of force did not rise to the level of a deprivation of a constitutional right, 2) defendants are shielded by qualified immunity, 3) plaintiff's cause of action is not properly pled and 4) plaintiff's state law claims cannot be sustained. Plaintiff has claimed a deprivation of a civil right and seeks money damages. In order to sue an official acting under color of law for money damages for deprivation of a constitutional right, the sole remedy available under federal law is found in 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         To succeed on a § 1983 claim for excessive force against a pretrial detainee, the plaintiff must show that the defendant purposely or knowingly used objectively unreasonable force against him. Miranda-Rivera v. Toledo-Davila, 813 F.3d 64, 70 (1st Cir. 2016).

         1. The reasonableness ...


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