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Walker v. U.S. Marshals

February 4, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: John Gleeson, United States District Judge



Plaintiff Thomas Walker IV, currently incarcerated in the Suffolk County Correctional Facility, brings this pro se action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that various police department officials violated his Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment by denying him medical treatment. Walker is seeking "adequate medical attention for those after me"; appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the misconduct of Suffolk County law enforcement agencies; $5,000,000 in damages; and appropriate consequences for each offending officer. Defendant Waterbury Police Department ("WPD") moves to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), (2) and (6) as well as 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted.


The following facts are drawn from the plaintiff's complaint, filed March 3, 2008, and are assumed to be true for the purposes of this motion.

On November 26, 2007, Walker was arrested in the parking lot of his apartment in Waterbury, Connecticut by U.S. Marshals, police detectives from the 6th and 7th precincts of Suffolk County Police Department and police officers from the Waterbury Police Department. He was taken to the Waterbury Police Department, where he was placed in a room for questioning. When Walker asked to speak with a lawyer, the detectives with whom he was speaking left the room. Later, the detectives returned to speak with Walker and promised him that if he made a written statement, he would be released from jail like his co-defendant.*fn1

Upon being brought to the police department, Walker had begun to feel nauseated and dizzy. While being questioned by the detectives, he vomited and dry-heaved several times into a garbage can. Walker told the detectives that he had never felt this way before and requested that he be taken to a hospital for medical attention. The detectives promised Walker that he could see a doctor only if he "helped" them by signing a confession. After signing a statement, Walker was placed in a cell but did not receive medical treatment until the following day, when he was admitted to Walker Correctional Facility, where his blood pressure was monitored for three days.


A. The Legal Standard for a Motion to Dismiss

Motions to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) test the legal, not the factual, sufficiency of a complaint. See, e.g., Sims v. Artuz, 230 F.3d 14, 20 (2d Cir. 2000) ("At the Rule 12(b)(6) stage, '[t]he issue is not whether a plaintiff is likely to prevail ultimately, but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims.'" (quoting Chance v. Armstrong, 143 F.3d 698, 701 (2d Cir. 1998))). Accordingly, I must accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true. Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007). However, I do not give effect to "legal conclusions couched as factual allegations." Port Dock & Stone Corp. v. Oldcastle Ne., Inc., 507 F.3d 117, 121 (2d Cir. 2007) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)).

While generally "[s]pecific facts are not necessary" to state a claim so long as the statement gives the defendant "'fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests,'" Erickson, 127 S.Ct. at 2200 (quoting Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1964), in at least some circumstances a plaintiff must plead specific facts in order to survive a motion to dismiss. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1964-65. The Second Circuit has interpreted this principle as a "flexible 'plausibility standard'" under which a plaintiff must "amplify a claim with some factual allegations in those contexts where such amplification is needed to render the claim plausible." Iqbal v. Hasty, 490 F.3d 143, 157-58 (2d Cir. 2007) (emphasis omitted) (interpreting Twombly). The Second Circuit's subsequent decision in Boykin v. KeyCorp, 521 F.3d 202, 213 (2d Cir. 2008), however, strongly suggests that Twombly does not significantly alter the lenient, notice-focused standard used to assess the complaint of a pro se litigant. Id. at 213-14. Boykin noted that after Twombly, the Supreme Court's decision in Erickson addressed the sufficiency of a pro se plaintiff's pleading under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Relying on Erickson, the Boykin court concluded that "departure from Rule 8(a)'s liberal pleading standard was particularly unwarranted" where the complaint was filed pro se: "'A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Boykin, 521 F.3d at 214(quoting Erickson, 124 S.Ct. at 2200).

When considering a motion to dismiss, a court may examine (1) the factual allegations in the complaint, which are accepted as true; (2) documents attached to the complaint as an exhibit or incorporated in it by reference; (3) matters of which judicial notice may be taken; or (4) documents either in the plaintiff's possession or of which the plaintiff had knowledge and relied on in bringing suit. Brass v. American Film Techs., Inc., 987 F.2d 142, 150 (2d Cir. 1993).

B. WPD's Motion to Dismiss

The Waterbury Police Department moves to dismiss Walker's complaint on the ground that it is not susceptible to ...

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