Ramos v. LaJoie et al
RULING AND ORDER granting 16 Motion to Dismiss. The case will proceed only on the claims against defendant Trifone. Signed by Judge Dominic J. Squatrito on 9/12/12. (Glynn, T.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
MICHAEL LAJOIE, et al.,
Case No. 3:11cv679(DJS)
RULING ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS [Doc. #16]
Plaintiff Joshua Ramos filed this action pro se under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 (2000).
He named as defendants Michael Lajoie,
Angel Quiros, David Butkiewicus, Joshua Trifone and K-9
The plaintiff alleged that defendant Trifone used excessive force
against him after an altercation in the recreation yard by
permitting Apollo to bite him even though he was complying with
The Court previously dismissed all damages claims
against the defendants in their official capacities and all
claims against defendant K-9 Apollo as a dog cannot be sued.
[Doc. # 4.]
Defendants Lajoie, Quiros and Butkiewicus now move
to dismiss all claims against them.
For the reasons that follow,
the defendants’ motion is granted and the case will proceed only
against defendant Trifone.
Standard of Review
When considering a motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as
true all factual allegations in the complaint and draws
inferences from these allegations in the light most favorable to
See Pena v. DePrisco, 432 F.3d 98, 107 (2d Cir.
2005). The Court considers not whether the plaintiff ultimately
will prevail, but whether he has stated a claim upon which relief
may be granted so that he should be entitled to offer evidence to
support his claim.
See York v. Association of the Bar of the
City of New York, 286 F.3d 122, 125 (2d Cir. 2002).
In reviewing the complaint in response to a motion to
dismiss, the court applies a "plausibility standard," which is
guided by two working principles.
662, 678 (2009).
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
First, the requirement that the court accept as
true the allegations in the complaint “‘is inapplicable to legal
conclusions,’ and ‘[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.’” Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009)
(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
Second, to survive a motion to
dismiss, the complaint must state a plausible claim for relief.
Determining whether the complaint states a plausible claim for
relief is “‘a context-specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.’”
(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).
Even under this standard,
however, the court liberally construes a pro se complaint.
Boykin v. KeyCorp, 521 F.3d 202, 213-14, 216 (2d Cir. 2008).
On March 8, 2010, the plaintiff and several other inmates
attended recreation in the north recreation yard.
altercation broke out, a code blue was called.
One of the
responding correctional officers ordered the inmates to lie face
down on the ground.
The plaintiff complied with the order.
Shortly thereafter, defendant Trifone entered the recreation yard
and allowed Apollo to bite the plaintiff’s leg.
received medical treatment at the UCONN Health Center.
the incident, the plaintiff informed defendants Lajoie, Quiros
and Butkiewicus that he had been bitten, but they failed to
investigate the incident or reprimand defendant Trifone.
Defendants Lajoie, Quiros and Butkiewicus, all supervisory
officials, contend that they lack personal involvement in any
constitutional violation and also are protected by qualified and
Because the doctrine of respondeat superior is inapplicable
in section 1983 cases, see Blyden v. Mancusi, 186 F.3d 252, 264
(2d Cir. 1999), supervisors are not automatically liable under
section 1983 when their subordinates commit a constitutional
For many years it was well settled in this circuit that
there were five ways to demonstrate the personal involvement of a
(1) the defendant directly participated
in the alleged constitutional violation, (2) after he was
informed of the violation through a report or appeal, the
supervisory defendant failed to remedy the wrong, (3) the
supervisory defendant created a policy or custom pursuant to
which the constitutional violation occurred or permitted such a
policy or custom to continue, (4) the defendant was grossly
negligent in supervising the subordinates who committed the
wrongful acts, or (5) the defendant was deliberately indifferent
to the plaintiff’s rights by failing to act on information that
unconstitutional acts were occurring.
865, 873 (2d Cir. 1995).
Colon v. Coughlin, 58 F.3d
In addition, the plaintiff must
demonstrate an affirmative causal link between the supervisory
official’s failure to act and his injury.
See Poe v. Leonard,
282 F.3d 123, 140 (2d Cir. 2002).
The decision in Iqbal caused many courts to question this
In Iqbal, the Supreme Court
rejected the argument that
“a supervisor’s mere knowledge of his subordinate’s
discriminatory purpose amounts to the supervisor’s violating the
Constitution,” concluding that “each Government official, his or
her title notwithstanding, is only liable for his or her own
556 U.S. at 677.
Since Iqbal, some districts courts within this circuit have
determined that not all five of Colon’s categories of conduct
that may give rise to supervisory liability remain viable. See
e.g., Bellamy v. Mount Vernon Hospital, No. 07 Civ. 1801(SAS),
2009 WL 1835939 at *6 (S.D.N.Y. June 26, 2009) (“The Supreme
Court’s decision in Iqbal v. Ashcroft abrogates several of the
categories of supervisory liability enumerated in Colon v.
Iqbal’s 'active conduct' standard only imposes
liability on a supervisor through section 1983 if that supervisor
actively had a hand in the alleged constitutional violation.
Only the first and part of the third Colon categories pass
Iqbal’s muster. . . .”); Bryant v. County of Monroe, No. 09-CV6415-CJS, 2010 WL 4877799 at *3 (W.D.N.Y. Nov. 22, 2010) (“The
Court ... is persuaded by the analysis of ... Iqbal ... in
Other district courts restrict application of Iqbal to cases
involving discriminatory intent.
See, e.g., Delgado v. Bezio,
No. 09 Civ. 6899(LTS), 2011 WL 1842294 at *9 (S.D.N.Y. May 9,
2011) (“It was with intent-based constitutional claims in mind,
specifically racial discrimination, that the Supreme Court
rejected [in Iqbal] the argument that a supervisor’s mere
knowledge of his subordinate’s discriminatory purpose amounts to
the supervisor’s violating the Constitution. Thus, where the
claim does not require a showing of discriminatory intent, the
Colon analysis should still apply, insofar as it is consistent
with the particular constitutional provision alleged to have been
violated.” (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)).
Second Circuit has not yet addressed this issue.
This Court need not determine whether Iqbal applies in all
cases or just those involving discriminatory intent, because the
allegations against the defendants Lajoie, Quiros and Butkiewicus
are insufficient to survive dismissal even under the Colon
The plaintiff alleges that he did not tell defendants
Lajoie, Quiros or Butkiewicus about the incident until after it
Thus, they were not personally involved in and were
not aware of any facts that would have enabled them to prevent
See Odom v. Calero, No. 06 Civ. 15527(LAK)(GWG),
2008 WL 2735868, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. Jul. 10, 2008) (holding that
failure to remedy factor applies only to ongoing, hence
Defendants Lajoie, Quiros and Butkiewicus were notified of
the incident through the institutional administrative remedy
The receipt of a letter of complaint or an inmate
grievance is insufficient to establish personal involvement of
See Manley v. Mazzuca, No. 01CV5178(KMK),
2007 WL 162476, at *10 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 19, 2007) (affirming denial
of grievance insufficient to establish personal involvement of
prison official); Cox v. Colgane, No. 94 Civ. 6361(DAB), 1998 WL
148424, at *9 (S.D.N.Y. March 27, 1998) (ignoring prisoner’s
letter of complaint and request for investigation insufficient to
establish personal involvement in alleged constitutional
In addition, the plaintiff has alleged no facts suggesting
that the incident was other than an unauthorized act by defendant
Thus, none of the other Colon categories apply. The
defendants’ motion to dismiss is granted as to the claims against
defendants Lajoie, Quiros and Butkiewicus.
The defendant’s motion to dismiss [Doc. #16] is GRANTED.
The case will proceed only on the claims against defendant
SO ORDERED this 12th day of September 2012, at Hartford,
Dominic J. Squatrito
United States District Judge
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