Taylor v. Wilde et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER denying 9 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. For the foregoing reasons, Defendant's motion to dismiss (Docket Entry 9) is DENIED. So Ordered by Judge Joanna Seybert on 7/10/12. C/M; C/ECF (Valle, Christine)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
ANTOINE L. TAYLOR,
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
-againstCORRECTIONAL OFFICER MICHAEL WILDE,
Antoine L. Taylor, pro se
Sing Sing Correctional Facility
354 Hunter Street
Ossining, New York 10562
Peter A. Laserna, Esq.
Office of the Nassau County Attorney
One West Street
Mineola, New York 11501
SEYBERT, District Judge:
(“Plaintiff”) commenced this action on July 22, 2011 against
Correctional Officer Michael Wilde, the Nassau County Sheriff’s
Department, Acting Sheriff Michael Sposato, and Sergeant Lettman
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting claims of excessive force
in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Pending before the Court
is Defendant Wilde’s motion to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to
FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6).
Wilde’s motion is DENIED.
For the following reasons, Defendant
submitted on the Court’s civil rights complaint form, on July 2,
2010, Plaintiff was being escorted from the Nassau University
(Compl. ¶ IV.)
Plaintiff claims that he
“asked the officer if he could take off the leg armor and the
handcuffs b/c [they] were in the facility now,” and alleges that
Defendant Wilde refused.
(Compl. ¶ IV.)
Plaintiff asserts that
he was in “a lot of pain from [his] surgery” and he began to
complain about “the body gear still being on even in medical.”
The officer then told me to “shut up” before
he sticks me in the medical pins [sic].
then replied by saying something that he
(Mr. Wilde) didn’t like, he told me to head
to the pins [sic], I said “for what,” the
officer then tried to grab me from behind
b/c at that point I was holding on to
something on the wall.
When his grab was
not successful he picked me up from behind
and slammed me into a vacant office. Where
I hit my head on a desk and the floor real
hard, cut my finger, and a staple from my
surgery had fell [sic] out.
(Compl. ¶ IV.)
As a result of the foregoing, Plaintiff seeks
The following facts are taken from Plaintiff’s Complaint and
are presumed to be true for the purposes of this Memorandum and
including pain and suffering and mental anguish.
(Compl. ¶ V.)
Plaintiff also seeks to have “immediate action taking [sic] out
(Compl. ¶ V.)
Plaintiff filed his Complaint and a motion for leave
to proceed in forma pauperis on July 22, 2011.
On September 2, 2011, this Court granted Plaintiff's
request to proceed in forma pauperis but sua sponte dismissed
the claims against Sheriff Sposato, Sergeant Lettman, and the
§§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A(b).
(Docket Entry 7.)
On November 4, 2011, Defendant Wilde moved to dismiss
the Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of
(Docket Entry 9.)
Plaintiff, after being
granted multiple extensions of time, filed his opposition to
Defendant Wilde’s motion on May 14, 2012 (Docket Entry 34), and
Defendant Wilde filed his reply on May 21, 2012 (Docket Entry
Defendant Wilde moves to dismiss on two grounds:
because his use of force was justified and (2) because he is
entitled to qualified immunity.
The Court will first describe
the standard of review on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion before turning
to the merits of Defendant Wilde’s motion.
Standard of Review under Rule 12(b)(6)
“[t]wo working principles.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009); Harris v. Mills,
572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009).
First, although the Court must
accept all of a complaint's allegations as true, this “tenet” is
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements, do not suffice.”
Harris, 572 F.3d at 72
that state a “plausible claim for relief” survive a motion to
Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
Determining whether a complaint does so is “a context-specific
task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.”
Id. (internal quotation marks and
While pro se plaintiffs enjoy a somewhat
more liberal pleading standard, see Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94, 127 S. Ct. 2197, 167 L. Ed. 2d 1081 (2007) (“[A] pro se
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.”)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted), they must still
comport with the procedural and substantive rules of law.
Capital v. Owens, 227 F.R.D. 181, 186 (E.D.N.Y. 2005).
In deciding a 12(b)(6) motion, the Court is confined
to “the allegations contained within the four corners of [the]
Pani v. Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, 152 F.3d 67,
71 (2d Cir. 1998).
This has been interpreted broadly to include
document on which the complaint heavily relies, and anything of
Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 152-53 (2d Cir. 2002); Kramer v.
Consideration of matters beyond those just enumerated requires
the conversion of the 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss to one for
See FED. R. CIV. P. 12(d) (“If,
summary judgment under Rule 56.
12(b)(6) . . . ,
pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the
motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule
56.”); see also Kramer, 937 F.2d at 773.
Defendant Wilde’s Motion to Dismiss
Defendant Wilde argues that the Complaint should be
dismissed because (1) his use of force was justified and (2) he
is shielded from suit on the grounds of qualified immunity.
Court will address each argument in turn.
Whether Wilde’s Use of Force Was Justified
To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff
must “allege that (1) the challenged conduct was attributable at
least in part to a person who was acting under color of state
guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States.”
v. Dylag, 188 F.3d 51, 53 (2d Cir. 1999).
Defendant Wilde does
not dispute that he was acting under color of state law; at
issue is whether Plaintiff has adequately pled the deprivation
of a constitutional right.
punishments,” including the “unnecessary and wanton infliction
Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 173, 96 S. Ct. 2909,
49 L. Ed. 2d 859 (1976).
To state a claim of cruel and unusual
punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, a prisoner must
“allege facts from which it could be inferred that prison
maliciously and sadistically.”
(2d Cir. 2000).
Sims v. Artuz, 230 F.3d 14, 22
In other words, Plaintiff must show that (1)
the alleged use of force was “objectively sufficiently serious
or harmful enough,” United States v. Walsh, 194 F.3d 37, 50 (2d
Cir. 1999) (citing Hudson v. McMillan, 503 U.S. 1, 8, 112 S. Ct.
995, 117 L. Ed. 2d 156 (1992)), and (2) that the force was
applied “maliciously and sadistically to cause harm” rather than
Hudson, 503 U.S. at 7.
The Court finds that Plaintiff has done that here.
First, Defendant Wilde’s act of “slamm[ing]” a handcuffed and
shackled Plaintiff into a vacant office causing, inter alia, a
sufficiently serious” to state a claim for relief.
U.S. at 8; see also, e.g., Charlton v. New York, No. 03-CV-8986,
2006 WL 406315, at *7-8 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 22, 2006) (finding the
act of vehemently and repeatedly slamming an inmate against a
wall sufficient to satisfy the objective prong of his excessive
force claim); Messina v. Mazzeo, 854 F. Supp. 116, 129 (E.D.N.Y.
1994) (stating that “the unprovoked slapping of a handcuffed
prisoner while under custody in a police car is an example of an
amount of force which is excessive as a matter of law”).
attempting to defy Defendant Wilde’s order to “head to the pins”
by “holding on to something on the wall” (Compl. ¶ IV), it can
Wilde) didn’t like” (Compl. ¶ IV) and was thus “malicious and
although it is far from clear whether Plaintiff will ultimately
prevail, the Court cannot conclude at this early stage of the
plausible claim for relief under the Eighth Amendment.
(reversing district court’s dismissal of an inmate’s excessive
force claim because there were “genuine issues of material fact
concerning . . . whether
against him”); Charlton, 2006 WL 406315, at *7 (denying motion
whether the defendant’s conduct was malicious and sadistic as
discipline); cf. Phillips v. Girdich, 408 F.3d 124, 127-28 (2d
Cir. 2005) (“When reviewing pro se submissions, a district court
should look at them with a lenient eye, allowing borderline
cases to proceed.”)
Defendant Wilde argues that Plaintiff has failed to
state a claim because:
The physical force used by Officer Wilde, as
alleged by Plaintiff, was in response to
Plaintiff’s refusal to obey a direct order.
Officer Wilde’s force was no more than
discipline of the inmate at the Nassau
County Correctional Center, and was thus,
justified under [N.Y. PENAL LAW § 35.10(2) and
the Nassau County Correctional Center Inmate
Rules and Regulations].
(Wilde Mot. 6-7.)
There are multiple issues with Defendant
Second, the Court may not consider the Nassau
County Correctional Center Inmate Rules and Regulations, as they
were neither attached to the Complaint nor referenced therein.
(S.D.N.Y. 2003) (“To be incorporated by reference, the Complaint
must make a clear, definite and substantial reference to the
allegations in the Complaint, which, construed in the light most
favorable to Plaintiff, states a claim for relief.
immunity protects a government official sued in his official
(1) if the conduct attributed to him was not
prohibited by federal law; or (2) where that
Plaintiff’s right not to be subjected to
such conduct by the defendant was not
clearly established at the time it occurred;
or (3) if the defendant’s action was
objective[ly] legal[ly] reasonable . . .
in light of the legal rules that were
clearly established at the time it was
Manganiello v. City of N.Y., 612 F.3d 149, 164 (2d Cir. 2010)
Because “[i]t is indisputable that freedom
constitutional right,” Jeanty v. Cnty. of Orange, 379 F. Supp.
2d 533, 542 (S.D.N.Y. 2005), the issue here is whether it was
objectively reasonable for Defendant Wilde to believe that his
acts did not violate Plaintiff’s right to be free from the use
of excessive force.
The Second Circuit has held, however, that whether a
government official’s actions were objectively reasonable “turns
on factual questions that cannot be resolved at this stage of
Taylor v. Vt. Dep’t of Educ., 313 F.3d 768,
793 (2d Cir. 2002); see also Green v. Maraio, 722 F.2d 1013,
1018 (2d Cir. 1983) (“Usually, the defense of qualified immunity
cannot support the grant of a [Rule] 12(b)(6) motion for failure
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”); Maloney v.
inquiry, it is generally premature to address the defense of
adjudication as to the applicability of the qualified immunity
affirmative defense would be premature since ‘[r]esolution of
factual questions that cannot be answered at this stage of the
McKee, 332 F. Supp. 2d 659, 666 (S.D.N.Y. 2004)).
the Court will not dismiss on the grounds of qualified immunity
at this time.
dismiss (Docket Entry 9) is DENIED.
/s/ JOANNA SEYBERT______
Joanna Seybert, U.S.D.J.
10 , 2012
Central Islip, New York
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