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Carter v. Spencer

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

December 5, 2018

Antwan Carter, Plaintiff,
v.
Luis Spencer, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge.

         This suit arises out of the plaintiff's claims that two correction officers assaulted him while he was incarcerated at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff further alleges that a third correction officer threatened him with sexual assault. As a result of those incidents, the plaintiff filed two inmate grievances with the Massachusetts Department of Correction both of which were denied. He then appealed the denial of the first grievance. He now seeks damages for his § 1983 and state law claims against the officer defendants and their supervisors.

         I. Background

         Antwan Carter (“plaintiff” or “Carter”) is an inmate at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center (“Souza”). He alleges that he was attacked by Correction Officers (“CO”) Gregory Dominique (“Dominique”) and Jason Collins (“Collins”) on October 16, 2013, and that he filed an inmate grievance regarding the assault (“Grievance 1”) with the Massachusetts Department of Correction (“the DOC”) the next day. In Grievance 1, Carter requested that the incident be thoroughly investigated. On October 25, 2013, the Internal Grievance Coordinator (“IGC”) referred the matter to Internal Affairs (“IA”).

         The plaintiff also alleges that on October 23, 2013, CO Patrick Hines (“Hines”) taunted and threatened him with sexual assault. He filed another grievance (“Grievance 2”) and asked for a remedy of a “safer environment” that same day. The IGC reached a “decision” with respect to Grievance 2 by referring the matter to IA on November 14, 2013.

         In January, 2014, the Chief of the Internal Affairs Unit, Philip Silva, gave written notice to the plaintiff that his grievances were under investigation. In September, 2014, Superintendent Bruce Gelb (“Gelb”) notified Carter in writing that his allegations as to staff misconduct were “not sustained” and that Gelb considered the matter closed.

         The plaintiff appealed the IGC decision on Grievance 1 in November, 2016, seeking monetary damages. The following day, Superintendent Steven Silva (“Silva”) returned the appeal because the plaintiff had inserted the wrong grievance number. Shortly thereafter, Superintendent Silva denied Grievance 1 noting that time limits for filing an appeal had expired. Carter did not appeal the decision on Grievance 2.

         The plaintiff avers that between the time he was assaulted and the date he filed his appeal on Grievance 1, he was transferred to different facilities several times. He claims he was unable to file an appeal with respect to Grievance 1 during the course of those transfers because he had lost his legal papers but that he promptly filed his appeal as soon as he received copies of Grievance 1 in mid-October, 2016.

         The plaintiff filed an amended complaint in January, 2017, alleging the following claims against COs Dominique and Collins: 1) use of excessive force under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; 2) use of excessive force under Article XXVI of the Massachusetts Constitution; 3) threats, intimidation and coercion against the plaintiff under M.G.L. c. 12 § 11H; 4) assault and battery and 5) intentional infliction of emotional distress.

         With respect to Claims I, II and III, the plaintiff incorporates the same allegations against the supervisors at Souza on the grounds that Commissioners Luis Spencer (“Spencer”) and Carol Higgins O'Brien (“O'Brien”) and Superintendent Bruce Gelb (“Gelb”) (collectively referred to as “supervisor defendants”) failed to train, supervise or discipline correctional staff.

         Finally, the plaintiff alleges that CO Hines: 1) engaged in threats, intimidation and coercion against the plaintiff in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Claim I), 2) engaged in threats, intimidation and coercion against the plaintiff in violation of the Massachusetts Constitution (Claim II), 3) engaged in threats, intimidation and coercion against the plaintiff in violation M.G.L. c. 12 § 11H (Claim III) and 4) is liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress (Claim V).

         This Court previously dismissed Count VI of the plaintiff's amended complaint (Docket No. 70) and dismissed the claims against Superintendent Osvaldo Vidal for lack of service (Docket No. 71). Pending before the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss all remaining claims (Docket No. 83).

         II. Motion to Dismiss

         A. ...


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