Those kicks and punches were not administered in a good faith effort to restore discipline, nor could they have plausibly been thought necessary since plaintiff was already pinned face down by two officers. Officer LaSarso did not intercede to stop the unnecessary beating and is liable to plaintiff for that failure.
Further, the court holds that Officer LaSarso violated the plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights when he participated in ripping the plaintiff's clothes off of him because plaintiff would not (or was too slow to) strip. Such force was not necessary given the number of officers present in the holding room and the fact that by that point plaintiff was subdued. The court concludes that the stripping of plaintiff was done maliciously with the intent to humiliate him. In addition, Officer LaSarso flagrantly violated plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights when he slapped and punched plaintiff as plaintiff stood handcuffed and naked. By that time, it was clear that the plaintiff was no longer misbehaving. The court concludes that this punching and slapping was vindictive and malicious.
With regard to Officer Huff, the court concludes that he also violated the plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights. However, his conduct was not as egregious as Officer LaSarso's. Officer Huff's initial attempt to stop plaintiff from proceeding to B Dorm, and his chicken wing hold on plaintiff's arm while escorting him to the holding room in A Dorm were appropriate under the circumstances. His efforts to subdue plaintiff inside the holding room by forcing him face down on the bed were necessary to restore order and discipline after plaintiff caused Officer LaSarso to tumble over the bed. Although plaintiff was beaten as Officer Huff pinned plaintiff face down on the bed, the court is unable to conclude that Officer Huff had a reasonable opportunity to intercede on plaintiff's behalf to prevent the kicking and punching. At the time, Officer Huff was trying to subdue the plaintiff. He cannot at the same moment be charged with the duty to subdue his colleagues.
The court concludes that Officer Huff did violate plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights when he participated in tearing plaintiff's clothes off, for the same reasons as enumerated above with respect to Officer LaSarso. Furthermore, although the record does not indicate that Officer Huff participated in beating plaintiff after plaintiff was handcuffed, as set forth above with respect to Officer LaSarso, Officer Huff also bore an affirmative duty to intercede on plaintiff's behalf when he witnessed other officers maliciously beating the handcuffed plaintiff in violation of plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights. The court holds that Officer Huff had a reasonable opportunity to intercede before he left for the dispensary, yet he failed to act to stop the beating. Officer Huff's failure in this regard constitutes a violation of plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights.
Finally, the court concludes that Sergeant Baker's kicks to the plaintiff's buttocks violated his Eighth Amendment rights. Given the injuries to plaintiff's head and eyes which were evident to Sergeant Baker, see Plaintiff's Exhs. 4-7, and given the fact that in each hand plaintiff was carrying a bag weighing approximately 25 pounds, the kicks were unwarranted and cavalier. The court acknowledges that the kicks did not cause plaintiff much physical pain. However, the extent of pain is but one element of the Johnson analysis. Corselli v. Coughlin, 842 F.2d 23, 26 (2d Cir. 1988); see Hudson, 112 S. Ct. at , 60 U.S.L.W. at 4153-54. The court concludes that, under the circumstances of this case, the kicks administered by Sergeant Baker were unreasonable and excessive.
In view of the above findings and conclusions, an award of damages to plaintiff is appropriate to compensate for his pain and suffering at the time and for the lasting effects he suffers including sinus problems and headaches behind his left eye. Given the court's finding that Officer Warner -- who is not named as a defendant -- inflicted most of the plaintiff's injuries, and given the finding that Officer Huff did not strike the plaintiff during the beating in the holding room, the court will apportion the compensatory damages between the defendants according to their respective portions of liability. O'Neill, 839 F.2d at 12. As against Officer LaSarso, the court awards the plaintiff $ 6,000 dollars in compensatory damages. As against Officer Huff, the court awards the plaintiff $ 3,000 dollars in compensatory damages. As against Sergeant Baker, the court awards the plaintiff $ 500 dollars in compensatory damages.
The court further concludes that punitive damages should be awarded in this case. Smith v. Wade, 461 U.S. 30, 51-56, 75 L. Ed. 2d 632, 103 S. Ct. 1625 (1983); see Memphis Community School Dist. v. Stachura, 477 U.S. 299, 306, 91 L. Ed. 2d 249, 106 S. Ct. 2537 n.9 (1986); Ismail v. Cohen, 899 F.2d 183, 187 (2d Cir. 1990); O'Neill, 839 F.2d at 13. Here, the court will apportion the award equally among Officers Huff and LaSarso based on the fact that Officer Huff, through his failure to intercede, and Officer LaSarso, through striking the plaintiff, equally contributed to the plaintiff's injuries. In a sense, one hand washed the other. As against Officer Huff, the court awards plaintiff $ 1,000 in punitive damages. As against Officer LaSarso, the court awards plaintiff $ 1,000 in punitive damages.
The plaintiff is directed to file and serve his fee petition on or before the date that falls thirty days after this Memorandum-Decision and Order is filed by the clerk of the court. Defendants are directed to file and serve their objections, if any, on or before the date which falls twenty-one days after the filing of the fee petition. The court encourages the parties to settle the attorney fees issue. If after a good faith effort they cannot settle the issue, plaintiff's counsel should so notify the court.
The court directs the clerk of the court to enter judgment on behalf of the plaintiff in his Eighth Amendment claim. The damage amounts should be entered as set in the preceding section of this Memorandum-Decision, for a total award in compensatory damages of $ 9,500, and a total award in punitive damages of $ 2,000. The clerk of the court is further directed to enter judgment dismissing the plaintiff's state law claims.
It is So Ordered.
Dated: April 11, 1992
Syracuse, New York
Howard G. Munson
Senior U.S. District Judge