Grant v. Norfleett et al
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER denying 7 MOTION to Seize Video of Inmates Being Strip Searched denying 9 MOTION asking court to contact prison counselor ; denying 10 MOTION for order to seize footage denying 11 Motion to Amend/Correct case number. The Clerk is directed to enter a judgment for the defendants and close this case. Signed by Judge Alvin W. Thompson on 5/8/2017. (Payton, R.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
LT. NORFLEETT, et al.
CASE NO. 3:17-cv-328 (AWT)
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
On February 24, 2017, the plaintiff, Earl Grant, who is
incarcerated and proceeding pro se, filed a complaint pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against two named defendants, Lieutenants
Norfleett and Colella, and three unnamed defendants, all of whom
work at Cheshire Correctional Institution.
The plaintiff is
suing these defendants for sexual harassment in violation of the
Eighth Amendment, and he seeks money damages.
For reasons set
forth below, the plaintiff’s claim is being dismissed without
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the court must review
prisoner civil complaints against governmental actors and
“dismiss ... any portion of [a] complaint [that] is frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted,” or that “seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief.”
Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain “a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).
Although detailed allegations are not required, “a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.
A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted).
A complaint that
includes only “‘labels and conclusions,’ ‘a formulaic recitation
of the elements of a cause of action’ or ‘naked assertion[s]’
devoid of ‘further factual enhancement,’” does not meet the
facial plausibility standard.
Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557 (2007)).
Although courts still
have an obligation to interpret “a pro se complaint liberally,”
the complaint must still include sufficient factual allegations
to meet the standard of facial plausibility.
See Harris v.
Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).
The complaint alleges that, on January 5, 2017, the
plaintiff was involved in an altercation with his cellmate.
defendants escorted both the plaintiff and his cellmate to the
restrictive housing unit.
The plaintiff was ordered by
Lieutenants Norfleett and Colella to “stand in a certain spot
with [a] drawing of two feet” and take off his clothes.
Complaint (Doc. No. 1) at 6.
The Complaint then alleges:
The Lieutenants [t]old me to [t]ake off my underw[ear],
[b]end over with straight legs[, t]ake both my [h]ands and
spread open my buttcheeks [e]xposing my [b]utt [h]ole. I
hesitated. Lt. Colella said are you [r]efusing a [d]irect
order. You will be sprayed with chemical agent and [f]o[r]ced
while being [h]eld by other C/Os. This is sexual [h]arassment
and I heard you’ll be given numerous DRs for [d]isobeying a
[d]irect order while being [h]eld by [t]wo C/Os while my
[h]ands were cuff[ed.] Feeling compel[ed] to [e]xpose myself
[l]ike [t]h[at] was very [d]isturbing. See footage from the
camera the officer was [h]olding while standing behind me. I
was compel[l]ed to [e]xpose my [b]utt [h]ole in front of
numerous correction officer in which one held a camera
recording this plaintiff being compel[led] to open his b]utt
[h]ole. This plaintiff is [r]equesting the court to obtain
a copy of [t]he video of the [i]ncident on January 5th 2017
to support plaintiff[‘s] allegations and ac[c]usation in this
lawsuit to prove sexual [h]arassment [f]o[r]cing this
plaintiff to [e]xpose [h]is [r]ectum [h]ole [e]xplo[i]ting
[g]ra[t]ification and [a]mus[e]ment and [h]omo sexual act.
Compl. at 6-7.
The Complaint further alleges, with respect to the period
after January 5, 2017:
Now when I walk in the [h]all I [f]eel [l]ike the[y are]
looking at me s[e]xually. I[‘]ve oc[c]asionally turn[ed] and
see [t]hem watching [m]e like a p[ea]ce of me[a]t. I have
nightmares of them watching me in the [h]allway waking up
in a cold sweat.
Compl. at 7.
The plaintiff alleges that this experience has
caused him significant harm with respect to his mental health.
He claims that the defendants’ actions constituted sexual
harassment and a violation of his Eighth Amendment right not to
be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.
A. Claims Against Defendants in their Official Capacities
The complaint does not specify whether the plaintiff is
suing the defendants in their individual or official capacities.
To the extent the plaintiff is seeking monetary damages against
the defendants in their official capacities, such claims are
barred by the Eleventh Amendment.
See Kentucky v. Graham, 473
U.S. 159 (1985); Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 342 (1979).
Therefore, any claims for monetary relief against the defendants
in their official capacities are being dismissed pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(2).
B. Eighth Amendment Claim
“The Eighth Amendment protects prisoners from cruel and
unusual punishment by prison officials.”
Crawford v. Cuomo, 796
F.3d 252, 256 (2d Cir. 2015). To state an Eighth Amendment
claim, a prisoner must allege that the defendants acted with “a
subjectively sufficiently culpable state of mind” and “that the
conduct was objectively harmful enough or sufficiently serious
to reach constitutional dimensions.”
Id. (internal quotation
Sexual abuse of a prisoner “may violate contemporary
standards of decency and . . . cause severe physical and
Boddie v. Schneider, 105 F.3d 857, 861 (2d
[A] single incident of sexual abuse, if sufficiently severe
or serious, may violate an inmate's Eighth Amendment rights
no less than repetitive abusive conduct.
abuse, while not a prerequisite for liability, bear on the
question of severity: Less severe but repetitive conduct may
still be “cumulatively egregious” enough to violate the
To show that an incident or series of incidents was
serious enough to implicate the Constitution, an inmate need
not allege that there was penetration, physical injury, or
direct contact with uncovered genitalia.
Crawford v. Cuomo, 796 F.3d 252, 257 (2d Cir. 2015) (internal
“In determining whether an Eighth Amendment
violation has occurred, the principal inquiry is whether the
contact is incidental to legitimate official duties, such as a
justifiable pat frisk or strip search, or by contrast whether it
is undertaken to arouse or gratify the officer or humiliate the
Crawford, 796 F.3d at 257-58.
See also Bell v.
Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 560 (1979) (body cavity searches of
inmates must be reasonable in scope); Wiley v. Kirkpatrick, 801
F.3d 51, 56-57, 61, 69-70 (2d Cir. 2015) (vacating district
court’s order dismissing harassment claim based on allegation
that correction officer “lick[ed] his lips” and “bl[ew] kisses”
toward plaintiff inmate while plaintiff was showering).
The plaintiff in this case has not stated a plausible
Eighth Amendment claim against the defendants.
describes the incident in detail, but alleges only that the
defendants subjected him to a body cavity search when
transferring him to a restrictive housing unit in the prison
He alleges that the transfer occurred after he was in
a fight with his cellmate, and the allegations that they were
exploiting the prison directive suggests that they followed
In any event, none of the plaintiff’s factual
allegations suggest that they did not think they were following
proper procedure or that this search was unwarranted given the
See Bell, 441 U.S. at 560 (recognizing legitimate use
of strip searches to uncover contraband); Harris v. Miller, 818
F.3d 49, 57-58 (2d Cir. 2016) (standard for analyzing
reasonableness of inmate body cavity search).
Complaint includes only a conclusory allegation that the
defendants conducted the search for their own sexual
gratification, and an assertion that on occasions after the
plaintiff was strip searched, the defendants “watched him like a
piece of meat.”
Compare Wiley, 801 F.3d at 56-57 (inmate
alleged that correction officer “lick[ed] his lips” and “bl[ew]
kisses” while watching inmate shower); Crawford, 796 F.3d at 258
(inmate stated plausible Eighth Amendment claim based on
allegation that correction officer “fondl[ed] and squeez[ed]”
inmate’s penis to check for erection).
For these reasons, the
plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment claim should be dismissed.
C. Pending Discovery Motions
In conjunction with his complaint, the plaintiff has filed
two motions for the court to “seize” specific surveillance
footage, which he asserts is necessary for him to prepare for
trial in his case [Doc.#s 7, 10].
He has also filed a “Motion
to Contact Counselor Datill” [Doc.#9] and a “Motion To Correct
the Case Number” [Doc.#11].
Because the court is dismissing the
plaintiff’s complaint in its entirety, these pending motions are
also being denied.
The court enters the following orders:
The plaintiff’s case is hereby DISMISSED pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), without prejudice.
The plaintiff’s motions to seize video surveillance
footage [Doc.#s 7, 10] are hereby DENIED.
“Motion to Contact Counselor Datill” [Doc.# 9] and “Motion to
Correct Case Number” [Doc.# 11] are hereby DENIED.
The Clerk is directed to enter a judgment for the
defendants and close this case.
It is so ordered.
Signed this 8th day of May 2017 at Hartford, Connecticut.
Alvin W. Thompson
United States District Judge
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