Jean-Baptiste v. Froehlich et al
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER. Plaintiff shall carefully review the attached Initial Review Order of the Amended Complaint and comply with all deadlines and requirements therein. It is so ordered. Signed by Judge Sarah A. L. Merriam on 1/10/2022. (McCallum, C.)
Case 3:21-cv-01482-SALM Document 18 Filed 01/10/22 Page 1 of 9
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
OFFICER RYAN FROEHLICH,
Civ. No. 3:21CV01482(SALM)
January 10, 2022
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER -- AMENDED COMPLAINT
Self-represented plaintiff Oles Jean-Baptiste
(“plaintiff”), a pretrial detainee 1 in the custody of the
Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”), brings this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 against a variety of defendants
apparently associated with the Norwich Police Department. See
Doc. #17 at 1-2. Plaintiff was been granted leave to proceed in
this matter in forma pauperis. See Doc. #8. On November 23,
2021, the Court issued an Initial Review Order of the original
The Court may take judicial notice of matters of public record.
See, e.g., Mangiafico v. Blumenthal, 471 F.3d 391, 398 (2d Cir.
2006); United States v. Rivera, 466 F. Supp. 3d 310, 313 (D.
Conn. 2020) (taking judicial notice of BOP inmate location
information); Ligon v. Doherty, 208 F. Supp. 2d 384, 386
(E.D.N.Y. 2002) (taking judicial notice of state prison website
inmate location information). The Court takes judicial notice of
the Connecticut DOC website, which reflects that plaintiff was
admitted to custody on March 3, 2020, and has not been
sentenced. See Inmate Information, CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF
49440 (last visited Jan. 10, 2022).
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Complaint, permitting the case to proceed as against defendant
Froehlich, in his individual capacity, on plaintiff’s claim of
excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. See Doc.
#9 at 8. The Court dismissed all claims against the other
defendants without prejudice, for failure to allege personal
involvement in the alleged use of force.
Plaintiff has filed an Amended Complaint, reasserting
claims against all of the individual defendants, and adding the
City of Norwich as a defendant. See Doc. #17 at 2. The Court now
proceeds to review of that Amended Complaint.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Under section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code,
the Court must review any “complaint in a civil action in which a
prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. §1915A(a). This
duty includes review of amended complaints. The Court then must
“dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if” it
“is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted; or ... seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §1915A(b).
A civil complaint must include sufficient facts to afford
defendants fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon which
they are based and to demonstrate a plausible right to relief.
See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).
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Conclusory allegations are not sufficient. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Rather, a plaintiff must plead “enough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.
It is well-established that “[p]ro se complaints ‘must be
construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest
arguments that they suggest.’” Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d
399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of
Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)). However, even selfrepresented parties must comply with Rule 8 and the other rules
of pleading applicable in all federal cases. See Harnage v.
Lightner, 916 F.3d 138, 141 (2d Cir. 2019).
The Amended Complaint adds the following wholly conclusory
allegations against the defendants other than Froehlich:
[All defendants] caused assault and battery to me, these
officers used excessive force upon me, these officers
subjected me to cruel and unusual punishment(s).
These officers above names mentioned violated my rights
to be free from the use of excessive force while working
for the Norwich Police Department and the City of
Doc. #17 at 5 (sic). Plaintiff makes detailed allegations as to
the use of force by Froehlich. See id. at 3.
As it did previously, the Court again construes the
Complaint, very generously, as asserting (A) a Fourth Amendment
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excessive force claim against Froehlich and (B) a failure to
intervene claim against the remaining defendants. The Court
construes the Complaint as bringing claims against all
defendants in their individual capacities, for money damages;
the Amended Complaint makes no demand for injunctive relief. See
id. at 7.
The Amended Complaint Fails to State a Claim Against
Any Individual Defendant Other than Froehlich
As the Court explained in its Initial Review of the
original Complaint: “In order to state a claim for damages under
section 1983, the plaintiff must demonstrate the defendant’s
direct or personal involvement in the actions which are alleged
to have caused the constitutional deprivation.” Roque v.
Armstrong, 392 F. Supp. 2d 382, 388 (D. Conn. 2005). The
original Complaint made no allegations at all against any
defendant other than Froehlich. The Amended Complaint adds only
purely conclusory allegations against the other defendants.
Plaintiff has made no specific allegations of actual conduct by
any defendant other than Froehlich. Rather, he repeatedly
asserts that “the defendants,” collectively, violated his
rights. Such conclusory allegations are insufficient to state a
claim against each of these individual defendants. See, e.g.,
Harris v. Dougherty, No. 3:17CV00440(VAB), 2017 WL 1902151, at
*4 (D. Conn. May 9, 2017) (dismissing claims where plaintiff
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“alleges no facts to support the conclusory claims that these
Defendants violated his Eighth or First Amendment rights”);
Miley v. Hous. Auth. of City of, Bridgeport, 926 F. Supp. 2d
420, 434 (D. Conn. 2013) (dismissing claims against defendant
where plaintiff “only conclusorily alleged that [the defendant]
was involved in the alleged” constitutional violation); Davis v.
United States, 430 F. Supp. 2d 67, 79 (D. Conn. 2006)
(dismissing claims where plaintiff “failed to set forth specific
facts showing that [the defendant] was personally involved in
the alleged constitutional deprivation”); Buckley v. McBain, 113
F.3d 1229 (2d Cir. 1997) (affirming dismissal of §1983 claims
where plaintiff “offered only conclusory allegations, failing to
identify how each defendant participated in the alleged”
The Amended Complaint Fails to State a Claim against
the City of Norwich
The Amended Complaint again names the City of Norwich as a
defendant; however, again, no factual allegations are made
against the City. The Court explained the standard for pleading
a §1983 claim against a city in its Initial Review of the
“[A] municipality cannot be held liable under §1983 on
a respondeat superior theory.” Monell v. Dep’t of Soc.
Servs. of City of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978). Local
governments “are not vicariously liable under §1983 for
their employees’ actions.” Outlaw v. City of Hartford,
884 F.3d 351, 372 (2d Cir. 2018). “Plaintiffs who seek
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to impose liability on local governments under §1983
must prove, inter alia, that the individuals who
violated their federal rights took action pursuant to
official municipal policy.” Id. (citations and quotation
Doc. #9 at 7. The Amended Complaint does not allege any policy,
or any facts even suggesting such a policy, sufficient to state
a Monell claim against the City of Norwich. Accordingly, all
claims against the City of Norwich are DISMISSED.
The Court Has Previously Dismissed All Claims Against
the Norwich Police Department with Prejudice
In the Initial Review of the original Complaint, the Court
dismissed all claims against the Norwich Police Department with
prejudice, and barred plaintiff from reasserting such claims.
See Doc. #9 at 7-8, 9. Any claims against the Norwich Police
Department remain DISMISSED, with prejudice. Plaintiff is
cautioned against attempting to reassert these claims.
The Court finds that the Amended Complaint has not
corrected the deficiencies identified in the Initial Review
Order (Doc. #9). The Amended Complaint fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted against any defendant other
than Froehlich. The Court therefore enters the following orders:
All claims against the City of Norwich, Matthew Seidel,
Harrison Formiglio, Elizabeth Harsley, Benjamin Sawary,
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James V. Mastroian, and Matthew Goddu, are DISMISSED,
All claims against the Norwich Police Department remain
DISMISSED, with prejudice.
The case may proceed to service on plaintiff’s Fourth
Amendment excessive force claim against Officer Ryan
Froehlich, in his individual capacity, for damages.
Plaintiff has two options as to how to proceed after this
Initial Review Order:
If plaintiff wishes to proceed with the Complaint as
against Officer Ryan Froehlich only, in his individual capacity,
he may do so without further delay. To choose this option,
plaintiff need only file a Notice on the docket stating that he
wishes to proceed against Officer Froehlich only. If plaintiff
files this Notice, the Clerk will immediately provide plaintiff
with the “service packets” to be completed, so that the process
of service on defendant Froehlich (by waiver or, if necessary,
by formal service) can begin.
If plaintiff wishes to attempt to state a viable claim
against the City of Norwich or any of the other named officers,
the Court grants him one final opportunity to do so. Plaintiff
may file a Second Amended Complaint on or before February 4,
2022. A Second Amended Complaint, if filed, will completely
replace the Complaint and the Amended Complaint, and the Court
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will not consider any allegations made in the original Complaint
or the Amended Complaint in evaluating any Second Amended
Complaint. The Court will review any Second Amended Complaint
after filing to determine whether it may proceed to service of
process on any defendants named therein.
If plaintiff does not file a Second Amended Complaint by
February 4, 2022, the Court will presume that he intends to
proceed against Officer Ryan Froehlich only, and the case will
proceed to service against defendant Froehlich.
CHANGES OF ADDRESS: If plaintiff changes his address at any
time during the litigation of this case, he MUST file a Notice
of Change of Address with the Court. Failure to do so may result
in the dismissal of the case. Plaintiff must give notice of a
new address even if he remains incarcerated. He should write
“PLEASE NOTE MY NEW ADDRESS” on the notice. It is not enough to
just put a new address on a letter or filing without indicating
that it is a new address. He should also notify the defendants
or defense counsel of his new address.
Plaintiff shall utilize the Prisoner E-filing Program when
filing documents with the Court. He is advised that the Program
may be used only to file documents with the Court.
Discovery requests and responses should not be filed on the
docket, except when required in connection with a motion to
compel or for protective order. See D. Conn. L. Civ. R. 5(f).
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Discovery requests and responses or objections must be served on
defendants’ counsel by regular mail.
It is so ordered this 10th day of January, 2022, at New
HON. SARAH A. L. MERRIAM
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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