Iamartino v. City of Bridgeport et al
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION granting 21 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge Mark R. Kravitz on 6/28/12. (Brown, S.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
CITY OF BRIDGEPORT,
BRYAN T. NORWOOD, and
No. 3:10cv824 (MRK)
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
In June 2007, Plaintiff Gregory Iamartino, a police officer for the City of Bridgeport, was
shot with a taser during a training exercise which he had been required to attend. He claims that
the individual Defendants in this case—Bridgeport Chief of Police Brian Norwood and Deputy
Chief of Police Adam Radzimirski—intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon him, violated
his substantive due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, and, in the case of Chief
Norwood, retaliated against him in violation of the First Amendment after he complained about
his treatment. Officer Iamartino further claims that the City of Bridgeport is liable for these
injuries because of its failure to supervise and train its employees.
Defendants seek summary judgment, denying that they violated Officer Iamartino's
constitutional rights in any way. The Court agrees. Thus, Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment [doc. # 21] is GRANTED as to all of Officer Iamartino's federal claims. The Court
declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over his state law claims of intentional infliction of
emotional distress; these are DISMISSED without prejudice.
Summary judgment is appropriate only when "the movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R.
Civ. P. 56(a). When considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court may consider
depositions, documents, affidavits, interrogatory answers, and other exhibits in the record, see
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c), and it must "resolve all ambiguities and draw all permissible factual
inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought." Holcomb v. Iona
Coll., 521 F.3d 130, 137 (2d Cir. 2008).
The moving parties—here, Defendants—bear the burden of demonstrating that no
genuine issue exists as to any material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25
(1986). "A dispute regarding a material fact is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Williams v. Utica Coll. of Syracuse Univ.,
453 F.3d 112, 116 (2d Cir. 2006) (quotation marks omitted). "The substantive law governing the
case will identify those facts that are material, and '[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary
judgment.'" Bouboulis v. Transp. Workers Union of Am., 442 F.3d 55, 59 (2d Cir. 2006) (quoting
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).
If the moving party carries its burden, "the opposing party must come forward with
specific evidence demonstrating the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact." Brown v. Eli
Lilly & Co., 654 F.3d 347, 358 (2d Cir. 2011). The opposing party "must do more than simply
show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "Where no rational finder of fact could find in
favor of the nonmoving party because the evidence to support its case is so slight, summary
judgment must be granted." Brown, 654 F.3d at 358 (quotation marks omitted).
Although the parties dispute several facts in this case, the Court is able to resolve the
present motion having read them, and presented them below, in the light most favorable to
Officer Iamartino, the non-moving party. See Holcomb, 521 F.3d at 137.
In June 2007, Deputy Chief Radzimirski advised the commanding officers of the Tactical
Narcotics Unit, of which Officer Iamartino was a member, that taser training would be held the
following week and that officers would themselves have to be tased in order to be certified to use
a taser. Chief Norwood had told the Deputy Chief that he wanted officers to appreciate the
effects of the taser, including the effects it might have on officers should one be used against
them in the line of duty.
Officer Iamartino attended the taser training course at the Bridgeport Police Academy on
June 12, 2007. He was surprised when told that he would have to be tased in order to be certified.
Three of his fellow attendees at the class voiced complaints to the training officer about the plan
to tase them—a plan that they and Officer Iamartino agreed was "stupid." Officer Iamartino was
concerned about his preexisting health problems and his lack of knowledge about how being shot
with a taser might affect them.
In response to the officers' complaints, the training officer contacted Chief Norwood and
reported back that any officer not willing to get shot with the taser would not participate in the
training and could leave and go home. Two class participants did so, although when Deputy
Chief Radzimirski—who arrived at the training center after the controversy erupted—asked that
they be called back, one returned.
Officer Iamartino was tased in the back while being held by two other officers; he pulled
his groin and suffered pain for several days thereafter as a result of being shot. Untrained officers
removed the taser barbs from Officer Iamartino's back. At the time, Officer Iamartino felt that he
and the others had been ordered to submit to being shot. However, when the portion of the class
in which the taser shots were administered was over, two attendees had not been tased. To
Officer Iamartino's knowledge, neither was ever disciplined for his refusal.
Several days later, then-Associate City Attorney Barbara Massaro visited the police
station on unrelated business and became upset when she saw Officer Iamartino wearing a taser,
as tasers had not yet been approved by her office. Attorney Massaro spoke to her superior and
ordered Officer Iamartino to remove his taser. Officer Iamartino then complained to her about
having been ordered to submit to the taser shot. Upset, she suggested that he seek help from his
On June 20, 2007, Officer Iamartino and three other officers requested a meeting with
Chief Norwood to discuss the taser training, at which they felt they had received conflicting
orders about whether getting tased was voluntary. Those attending the meeting also told Chief
Norwood their worry that Deputy Chief Radzimirski would retaliate against them for
complaining about the way he acted at the training.
In October 2007, Officer Iamartino and his partner were called before a lieutenant in the
narcotics unit who recommended that they be disciplined for failing to respond to motor vehicle
stops and calls from other officers while on duty. They were instructed to write a report on their
alleged infractions; Officer Iamartino's report, addressed to Deputy Chief Radzimirski, ended by
claiming that he could "only assume" that the threatened discipline was "retaliation for
complaining to Chief of Police Bryan Norwood about the taser debacle." Defs.' Ex. H [doc.
# 25]. In response, Deputy Chief Radzimirski initiated a new disciplinary action against Officer
Iamartino for his characterization of the training as a "debacle." On December 5, 2007, Chief
Norwood penalized Officer Iamartino for the initial infraction by taking away one holiday and
issued a written reprimand for the debacle comment.
A plaintiff pursuing a First Amendment retaliation claim must first show that he engaged
in activity that is protected by the First Amendment. See Ricciuti v. Gyzenis, 832 F. Supp. 2d
147, 153 (D. Conn. 2011). In the context of government employment, this requires courts to
determine "(1) whether the subject of the employee's speech was a matter of public concern and
(2) whether the employee spoke as a citizen rather than solely as an employee." Jackler v. Byrne,
658 F.3d 225, 235 (2d Cir. 2011) (citing Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410, 420-22 (2006)).
Both inquiries are questions of law suitable for resolution at the summary judgment stage. See
Jackler, 658 F.3d at 235, 237; Ricciuti, 832 F. Supp. 2d at 154.
Officer Iamartino identifies three instances of speech which he claims cross the First
Amendment threshold: first, his conversation with Barbara Massaro about "the issue of being
ordered shot despite there not being a policy," Mem. in Opp. [doc. # 33-2] (Iamartino Aff.) ¶ 8;
second, his meeting with Chief Norwood in which he and others discussed their concerns about
the taser training; and, third, the written report in which he referred to "the taser debacle."
Looking at the "content, form, and context of a given statement, as revealed by the whole
record," Sousa v. Roque, 578 F.3d 164, 175 (2d Cir. 2009) (quoting Connick v. Myers, 461 U.S.
138, 147-48 (1983)), it is clear that Officer Iamartino's criticisms of the way the taser training
was carried out were "complain[ts] solely about his own dissatisfaction with the conditions of his
own employment." Id. at 174. As the Second Circuit has said, "Speech that, although touching on
a topic of general importance, primarily concerns an issue that is personal in nature and generally
related to [the speaker's] own situation, such as his or her assignments, promotion, or salary, does
not address matters of public concern." Jackler, 658 F.3d at 236 (quotation marks omitted).
More clearly still, Officer Iamartino's speech was all made solely as an employee. In
Garcetti v. Ceballos, the Supreme Court confronted a case in which a deputy district attorney's
memo was commissioned by the plaintiff's employer and written "pursuant to [the plaintiff's]
official duties. 547 U.S. at 421–22. Just as the memo in Garcetti was held by the Supreme Court
to be unprotected speech, Officer Iamartino's written report—a required response to disciplinary
action being taken against him—must similarly count as employee, not citizen, speech.
Officer Iamartino's complaints to Chief Norwood and Attorney Massaro are similarly
unprotected, as "there is no relevant analogue to speech by citizens who are not government
employees." Id. at 423. Had Officer Iamartino employed "channels available to citizens
generally," Weintraub v. Bd. of Educ., 593 F.3d 196, 204 (2d Cir. 2010), rather than raising
"concerns up the chain of command at his workplace," id. (quoting Davis v. McKinney, 518 F.3d
304, 313 (5th Cir. 2008), this question would be a closer one. But Officer Iamartino at no point
made any comments outside the office or "communicated with the public" about his worries
regarding tasers or taser training at the Bridgeport Police Department. Id. at 205. Thus, as a
matter of law, Officer Iamartino cannot show that he faced retaliation for speech made as a
citizen and protected by the First Amendment.1 Defendants are therefore entitled to summary
judgment as to Count Three of Officer Iamartino's Complaint [doc. # 1].
The Court notes that Barclay v. Michalsky, 451 F. Supp. 2d 386 (D. Conn. 2006), the primary
case that Officer Iamartino relies upon in his attempt to circumvent Garcetti, was superseded by
a subsequent ruling in which Judge Arterton concluded that the plaintiff's First Amendment
claim was that of an employee, and thus barred by Garcetti. See Barclay v. Michalsky, 493 F.
Supp. 2d 269, 271 (D. Conn. 2007), aff'd 368 F. App'x 266 (2d Cir. 2010).
In addition to his First Amendment retaliation claim, Officer Iamartino also claims that
"an order to undergo an assault from [a] weapon he carries in order to do his job violates his due
process." Opp. to Mot. for Summ. J. [doc. # 33] at 8.
"Substantive due process standards are violated only by conduct that is so outrageously
arbitrary as to constitute a gross abuse of governmental authority." Natale v. Town of Ridgefield,
170 F.3d 258, 263 (2d Cir. 1999). "[A] plaintiff must demonstrate . . . that the government action
was 'so egregious, so outrageous, that it may fairly be said to shock the contemporary
conscience.'" Pena v. DePrisco, 432 F.3d 98, 112 (2d Cir. 2005) (quoting Cnty. of Sacramento v.
Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 847 n.8 (1998)). As the Supreme Court has noted, "conduct intended to
injure in some way unjustifiable by any government interest is the sort of official action most
likely to rise to the conscience-shocking level." Lewis, 523 U.S. at 849; see also id. at 846
(forbidding "the exercise of power without any reasonable justification in the service of a
legitimate governmental objective").
The Supreme Court has held that the Due Process Clause does not "guarantee municipal
employees a workplace that is free of unreasonable risks of harm." Collins v. City of Harker
Heights, Tex., 503 U.S. 115, 129 (1992). This distinguishes government employer cases from the
many substantive due process cases involving prisoners or persons confined in mental
institutions. For this reason, the Court finds the most relevant guidance in Johnson v. Newburgh
Enlarged School District, 239 F.3d 246 (2d Cir. 2001), a substantive due process case
concerning a gym teacher's use of force against a student. Addressing the "constitutional right to
be free from the use of excessive force in the non-seizure, non-prisoner context," the Second
Circuit counseled in Johnson that
[f]actors to be considered . . . include the need for the application of force, the
relationship between the need and the amount of force that was used, the extent of
injury inflicted, and whether force was applied in a good faith effort to maintain
or restore discipline or maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of
With respect to the last factor, if the force was maliciously or sadistically
employed for the very purpose of causing harm in the absence of any legitimate
government objective and it results in substantial emotional suffering or physical
injury, then the conduct is presumptively unconstitutional.
Id. at 251-52 (quotation marks, alterations, and citations omitted).
Defendants here have offered several legitimate government objectives for Bridgeport's
taser training program. As the parties have agreed, "Chief Norwood's rationale for this policy
was that he wanted officers to have an appreciation for the effects of the taser, how it can
incapacitate someone, and with that knowledge of its incapacitation, how it can also be used
against the officers and incapacitate them . . . ." Defs.' Loc. R. 56(a)(1) Statement [doc. # 21-2] ¶
10. Officer Iamartino has offered no evidence that the tasing he experienced was "intended to
injure in some way unjustifiable by any government interest." Lewis, 523 U.S. at 849. Nor has he
offered any reason to believe that the decision to tase the entire Tactical Narcotics Unit was
malicious or sadistic.
Officer Iamartino's primary argument rests on a slippery slope: If nothing in the
Constitution prohibits Bridgeport from requiring its taser-bearing officers to be tased, can it also
require that those bearing pepper spray be sprayed in the face? Must those who wield sticks
submit to beating? And could the Constitution ever permit situations in which police officers
were forced to accept being shot with their own guns as a condition of employment? See Opp. to
Mot. for Summ. J. [doc. # 33] at 9.
Another federal court recently rejected precisely this sort of argument in Robert v.
Carter, 819 F. Supp. 2d 832, 851 (S.D. Ind. 2011), and for good reason: The balance in these
cases between the reason for applying force and the amount of force applied shifts noticeably
from example to example. The lesson to be learned from being shot with a gun—presumably,
that it causes enormous pain—would be far outweighed by the pain itself. By comparison,
experiencing the debilitating but nonpermanent effects of a taser is not just to experience a lesser
degree of force compared to that of a gun, but to do so for better reason. As Defendants here and
the court in Robert both claimed, the tasing of officers "is directly related to training deputies to
handle the effects of combatants whom they tase and of being tased themselves." Id. at 852. The
Court has been given no reason to question these justifications for Bridgeport's taser training
program, and it finds that the planning and execution of that training, while far from perfect in
this instance, do not approach the conscience-shocking level that the Due Process Clause
Because the Court has found as a matter of law that no violation of Officer Iamartino's
constitutional rights occurred, his Monell claims against the City of Bridgeport for its failure to
supervise and train its employees must also be dismissed. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436
U.S. 658 (1978). "Monell does not provide a separate cause of action for the failure by the
government to train its employees; it extends liability to a municipal organization where that
organization's failure to train, or the policies or customs that it has sanctioned, led to an
independent constitutional violation." Segal v. City of New York, 459 F.3d 207, 219 (2d Cir.
2006). Thus, Defendants are entitled to summary judgment as to Counts One, Two, Four, and Six
of Officer Iamartino's Complaint [doc. # 1].
Officer Iamartino's remaining counts involve state law claims of intentional infliction of
emotional distress against Chief Norwood and Deputy Chief Radzimirski. Where no federal
claims remain in a lawsuit, however, the district court may decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction and leave the state law claims to be considered by the state courts. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1367(c)(3) (noting that a district court may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
state law claims where all federal claims have been dismissed); Giordano v. City of New York,
274 F.3d 740, 754 (2d Cir. 2001) (collecting cases). The Second Circuit advises that "if a
plaintiff's federal claims are dismissed before trial, the state claims should be dismissed as well."
Brzak v. United Nations, 597 F.3d 107, 113–14 (2d Cir. 2010).
Since the Court has granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants on all of Officer
Iamartino's federal claims, it declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining
state law claims. Thus, Counts Five and Seven of his Complaint [doc. # 1] are DISMISSED
without prejudice to refiling in state court. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [doc.
# 21] is GRANTED as to the remaining five counts. The clerk is instructed to close this case.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
/s/ Mark R. Kravitz
United States District Judge
Dated at New Haven, Connecticut: June 28, 2012.
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