United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
JASON J. SCHULTZ, Plaintiff,
GLENN A. DOHER, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
L. CABELL, U.S.M.J.
plaintiff Jason Schultz contends that prison guards violated
his constitutional rights in the course of removing him from
his cell. Pending before the court is the Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss and/or For Summary Judgment. (Dkt. No. 36)
For the following reasons, the motion will be granted in part
and denied in part.
events underlying the lawsuit occurred in 2015 when the
plaintiff was incarcerated at the Souza-Baranowski
Correctional Center (SBCC) in Shirley, Massachusetts.
Defendant Glenn Doher was at all relevant times a Department
of Correction (DOC) officer with the rank of captain.
Defendant James J. Tetreault was a DOC officer with the rank
of Sergeant. Defendants Eric Phattamachakand Joshua Frates
were DOC officers.
RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND
discovery has yet taken place, and as neither party has
submitted a traditional statement of facts, the court begins
by describing the major sources of the facts recited below.
defendants' memorandum “incorporates by
reference” affidavits submitted by defendants Doher,
Tetreault, Frates, Phattamachak, and a prison investigator
named Jamie Brousseau. Defendant Doher's affidavit in
turn incorporates several other documents, including separate
incident reports written by defendants Tetreault, Frates,
Phattamachak, and two other officers who were present but are
not named as defendants. Each of the defendant officers in
turn submits an affidavit in which he adopts and
authenticates his own incident report.
Doher also appends the report of two social workers who spoke
with the plaintiff prior to his being removed from his cell,
the report of a nurse who treated the plaintiff after the
removal, various disciplinary reports against Schultz, the
inmate grievance form submitted by Schultz, as well as the
results of the investigation of that grievance, and a video
of the removal incident. The reports of the nurse and social
worker are arguably inadmissible hearsay for Rule 56 purposes
where neither has submitted an affidavit, but the social
worker's interactions with the plaintiff are also
captured on the video.
the plaintiff, he submits two documents, including (1) a
“Plaintiff's Statement of Disputed Factual
Issues” and (2) a “Declaration in Opposition to
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.” Although
the statement of disputed issues is “short and concise,
” it is not “supported by appropriate record
citations” as required by Local Rule 56.1(a). However,
the plaintiff repeats the principal alleged disputed facts in
his Declaration, and that document, while containing some
factual assertions not supported in the record, has been
verified by the plaintiff pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746.
Accordingly, the court will rely on assertions in these
documents to the extent they appear to be based on the
plaintiff's personal knowledge.
April 6, 2015, the plaintiff was speaking to his attorney by
telephone when the call “was internally cut-off due to
an error with the phone system.” (Plaintiff's
Declaration In Opposition to Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss and/or For Summary Judgment, [Plaintiff's
Declaration], ¶ 6). Sergeant Tetreault refused to
reconnect the call and the plaintiff in response blocked the
window of his cell with his mattress, an act that is
prohibited for safety reasons. (Id. at ¶¶
7-8; Affidavit of James Tetreault [Tetreault Aff.], ¶
3). The parties agree that DOC officers convened outside the
plaintiff's cell at approximately 12:50 p.m. to address
the situation but offer different versions of what happened
The Defendants' Version
to the defendants, Sergeant Tetreault was informed at
approximately 12:50 p.m. that Schultz had covered his cell
door window and was asking to speak with a mental health
clinician. (Tetreault Aff., at ¶ 3). Sergeant Tetreault
went to Schultz's cell and ordered him to uncover the
window. (Id. at ¶¶ 5-6). Schultz
repeatedly cursed at Tetreault and refused to comply, and
dared the staff to physically remove him from his
cell. (Id. at ¶¶ 6, 11, 13).
Sergeant Tetreault again asked Schultz to comply with his
order, and offered him the opportunity to contact his
attorney at a later time. Schultz refused both offers.
(Id. at ¶¶ 7, 10). Sergeant Tetreault and
two mental health clinicians then spent several minutes in an
unsuccessful attempt to persuade the plaintiff to comply and
uncover his window. (Id. at ¶¶ 11-16).
After one last unsuccessful request to Schultz, Sergeant
Tetreault at approximately 1:25 p.m. radioed for assistance.
(Id. at ¶ 19).
“Move Team, ” which included Officers Tetreault,
Frates, Phattamachak and a fourth unidentified officer,
donned protective gear and convened outside Schultz's
cell. Based on authorization from Captain Doher, the team
prepared to administer a chemical agent into Schultz's
cell in order to subdue and remove him. (Id. at
¶¶ 20-22). Sergeant Tetreault warned Schultz of the
impending use of the chemical agent and, after receiving no
response from Schultz, administered the agent through the
crack at the top of the door. (Id. at ¶¶
22-23). After issuing another warning, Tetreault administered
a second blast. The blasts proved ineffective because Schultz
continued to block the door with his mattress. (Id.
at ¶ 24).
the second application of the chemical agent, Sergeant
Tetreault continued to issue commands to Schultz to come to
the door but Schultz did not comply. (Id. at ¶
25). The team opened the cell door, although it was initially
difficult to open because objects had been placed in the door
track. (Id. at ¶ 26). Once opened, the team
entered the cell and saw Schultz standing “at the back
of the cell in a fighting stance.” Schultz then began
to move forward. (Id. at ¶¶ 27-28;
Affidavit of Eric Phattamachak [Phattamachak Aff.] ¶ 4).
The plaintiff charged towards Officer Phattamachak, who
protected himself with the shield and guided Schultz to the
floor, where he was restrained. (Id. at ¶ 4).
Schultz was then removed from the cell to be treated by the
The Plaintiff's Version
to Schultz, Sergeant Tetreault ordered him to submit to being
removed from his cell but he declined. (Id. at
¶¶ 18-19). Sergeant Tetreault told him that a Move
Team was prepared to use a chemical agent in order to subdue
the plaintiff if he did not comply. (Id. at
¶¶ 20, 27). Subsequently, Sergeant Tetreault
administered an initial burst of the chemical agent through
the top of the door and it forced the plaintiff to “the
center of cell” “with his back to the door, eyes
shut, burning from contact” with the chemical agent.
(Id. at ¶ 21). Schultz then removed a mattress
from the door, apparently to reposition it to better prevent
the agent from hitting him in the face. (Plaintiff's
Decl. at ¶ 9). Without warning, though, ...