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Antoine L. Taylor v. Correctional Officer

July 10, 2012

ANTOINE L. TAYLOR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER MICHAEL WILDE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Incarcerated pro se Plaintiff Antoine L. Taylor ("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). For the following reasons, Defendant Wilde's motion is DENIED.

BACKGROUND*fn1

According to the brief, handwritten Complaint submitted on the Court's civil rights complaint form, on July 2, 2010, Plaintiff was being escorted from the Nassau University Medical Center ("NUMC") Prison Ward to the Nassau County Correctional Center. (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." (Compl. ¶ IV.) Plaintiff describes what occurred next as follows:

The officer then told me to "shut up" before he sticks me in the medical pins [sic]. I 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 unspecified "monetary damages" for his claimed injuries, including pain and suffering and mental anguish. (Compl. ¶ V.) Plaintiff also seeks to have "immediate action taking [sic] out on the Officer (Michael Wilde) for his unacceptable, inappropriate behavior." (Compl. ¶ V.)

Plaintiff filed his Complaint and a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis on July 22, 2011. (Docket Entries 1-2.) 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 Nassau County Sheriff's Department pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 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 Civil Procedure. (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 35).

DISCUSSION

Defendant Wilde moves to dismiss on two grounds: (1) 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.

I. Standard of Review under Rule 12(b)(6)

In deciding Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss, the Court applies a "plausibility standard," which is guided by "[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 "inapplicable to legal conclusions;" thus, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Harris, 572 F.3d at 72 (alteration in original) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678) (internal quotation marks omitted). Second, only complaints that state a "plausible claim for relief" survive a motion to dismiss. 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 citation omitted). 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 complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less 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. Colo. 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] complaint." Pani v. Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, 152 F.3d 67, 71 (2d Cir. 1998). This has been interpreted broadly to include any document attached to the complaint, any statements or documents incorporated in the complaint by reference, any document on which the complaint heavily relies, and anything of which judicial notice may be taken. See Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 152-53 (2d Cir. 2002); Kramer v. Time Warner Inc., 937 F.2d 767, 773 (2d Cir. 1991). Consideration of matters beyond those just enumerated requires the conversion of the 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss to one for summary judgment under Rule 56. See FED. R. CIV. P. 12(d) ("If, on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) . . . , matters outside the 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. II. 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. The Court will address each argument in turn.

A. 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 law and (2) the conduct deprived the plaintiff of a right guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States." Snider

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 ...


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