thus cannot be held liable on the basis of respondeat superior. Id.
C. The Court Will Dismiss the Plaintiff's Claims Against Defendants Moore and Plaut to the Extent that They Are Being Sued in Their Official Capacity.
It is well settled that if the plaintiff is suing the defendants in their official capacities, the suit is to be treated as a suit against the District of Columbia. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166, 87 L. Ed. 2d 114, 105 S. Ct. 3099 (1985). Under § 1983, governmental entities can be found liable only where the action alleged to be unconstitutional "implements or executes a policy statement, ordinance, regulation or decision officially adopted and promulgated by that body's officers," 436 U.S. at 690-691, or the injury to the plaintiff is caused by the "persistent and widespread discriminatory practices of state officials." Id. at 691. The plaintiff fails to allege that any of the defendants took an unconstitutional action pursuant to an official policy or regulation brought about by the decisions of an official with final policy making authority, or that his injuries were the result of the defendants' acquiescence to a longstanding practice or custom that constitutes the standard operating procedure of the government entity. See Jett v. Dallas Ind. School Dist., 491 U.S. 701, 737, 105 L. Ed. 2d 598, 109 S. Ct. 2702 (1989).
An allegation of a one-time constitutional violation is insufficient to establish the existence of a policy giving rise to governmental liability, absent proof that the incident was caused by an existing unconstitutional municipal policy. See City of Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, 471 U.S. 808, 823-24, 85 L. Ed. 2d 791, 105 S. Ct. 2427 (1985). The plaintiff makes no allegations that an existing policy, established by an official with policy making authority, caused his beating, his inadequate medical treatment or his conditions of confinement. Accordingly, the Court will grant the defendants' Motion to Dismiss with respect to the plaintiff's claims against Defendants Moore and Plaut, in their official capacities, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
IV. THE COURT WILL DENY THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS THE PLAINTIFF'S CLAIM THAT THE UNNAMED ERT OFFICERS USED EXCESSIVE FORCE IN VIOLATION OF HIS EIGHTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS.
When a prison official stands accused of using excessive physical force in violation of the Eighth Amendment, it must be shown that the official applied force "maliciously and sadistically to cause harm." Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6, 117 L. Ed. 2d 156, 112 S. Ct. 995 (1992). No liability arises when the force was applied in "'a good faith effort to maintain or restore discipline.'" Id. (citation omitted).
When determining whether the force used was excessive, a court considers (1) the extent of the injury suffered, (2) the need for the applicable force, (3) the relationship between that need and the force used, (4) the threat to the safety of staff and inmates reasonably perceived by responsible officials, and (5) any efforts made to temper the severity of a forceful response. See id. at 7. In reviewing these factors, a court should recognize that, in the context of force used to quell a prison disturbance, prison officials must often act "'in haste, under pressure, and frequently without the luxury of a second chance.'" Id. at 6 (quoting Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 320, 89 L. Ed. 2d 251, 106 S. Ct. 1078 (1986)). Thus, "'prison administrators . . . should be accorded wide-ranging deference in the adoption and execution of policies and practices that in their judgment are needed to preserve internal order and discipline and to maintain institutional security.'" Id. (quoting Whitley, 475 U.S. at 321-22 (citation omitted)).
In considering whether an Eighth Amendment violation has occurred, courts examine both objective and subjective components of the above factors. See Duamutef v. Fial, 922 F. Supp. 807, 815 (W.D.N.Y. 1996). The objective component of the alleged violation relates to the seriousness of the injury. See Branham v. Meachum 77 F.3d 626, 630 (2d Cir. 1996) (citing Hudson, 503 U.S. at 1). The subjective component relates to whether the defendants had a sufficiently culpable state of mind when they were engaging in the alleged misconduct. See Hudson, 503 U.S. at 8; Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 300, 115 L. Ed. 2d 271, 111 S. Ct. 2321 (1991) ("If pain inflicted is not formally meted out as punishment by the statute or the sentencing judge, some mental element must be attributed to the inflicting officer before it can qualify.").
The plaintiff's allegations that he was beaten until he lost consciousness meet the objective component of this inquiry. See Hudson, 503 U.S. at 8 (objective component of excessive force allegation requires only that plaintiff establish he suffered more than de minimis pain or injury; and plaintiff's bruises, swelling, loosened teeth, and a cracked dental plate were more than de minimis injuries for Eighth Amendment purposes).
The plaintiff's allegations also meet the test's subjective component. The plaintiff claims that the unnamed defendants brutally beat him in retaliation for the stabbing of the injured corrections officer, not in order to preserve order. The plaintiff asserts that he was handcuffed while he was beaten and that one of the officers essentially told him that he was being beaten in retaliation for assaulting correctional officers. Compl. at 2. The plaintiff alleges that one correctional officer screamed, "It's our go now, M-- F--," as the plaintiff was repeatedly kicked and beaten until he lost consciousness. If true, these facts establish malicious and sadistic intent.
While the plaintiff admits that the unnamed defendants were called onto the scene to respond to an inmate uprising, Compl. at 2; Pl.'s Second Aff. at 2, and that he was beaten because the unnamed defendants believed that he was assaulting, or had assaulted, a corrections officer, Pl.'s First Aff. at 1 (April 24, 1996) (stating that ERT officers "misinterpreted" plaintiff's efforts to help Sergeant McCulley as act of aggression); Compl. at 2 (ERT officer's remark while ordering plaintiff against wall indicates that officer mistook plaintiff for inmate who had stabbed Sergeant McCulley; additional comment by unnamed Lieutenant that plaintiff was "caught in a bad situation" further indicates that officers mistook plaintiff as aggressor), this case is more than one of mistaken identity. The Court therefore concludes that the plaintiff has alleged facts that, if true, could establish Eighth Amendment excessive force claims against the unnamed ERT officers.
The defendants argue that there is no evidence that the assault on the plaintiff ever took place. They further assert that the complaint should be dismissed for violating Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because the complaint fails to identify or name the defendants who allegedly assaulted the plaintiff. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 (requiring a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief). The Court disagrees.
The plaintiff has had no discovery in this case. Therefore, it is not surprising that he would not know the names of the corrections officer who allegedly beat him. The plaintiff's complaint, however, is sufficiently detailed, and should not be found deficient simply because the plaintiff has not learned the names of his alleged assailants. If, after discovery, the plaintiff still has not provided the names of the defendant ERT officers or substantiated his claims, the Court may make a determination at that time whether the claims are frivolous, or whether judgment should be granted in favor of the defendants. The Court, however, will not dismiss the claims at this early stage of the litigation simply because the plaintiff has yet to provide evidence in support of his claims. Consequently, the Court will deny the defendants' Motion to Dismiss the excessive force claims against the unnamed ERT officers.
V. THE COURT WILL APPOINT COUNSEL TO REPRESENT THE PLAINTIFF.
Because the plaintiff's excessive force claims against the unnamed ERT officers still are viable, and because justice requires that counsel be appointed to represent the plaintiff in this cause, the Clerk shall designate counsel from the Civil Pro Bono Panel pursuant to Local Rule 702.1 to represent the plaintiff pro bono publico.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court will grant the defendants' Motion to Dismiss as to all claims against the defendants District of Columbia Department of Corrections, Moore, and Plaut. The Court will deny the motion as to the plaintiff's excessive force claims against the unnamed ERT officers. The Court will issue an order of even date herewith consistent with the foregoing Memorandum Opinion.
September 5, 1997
ROYCE C. LAMBERTH
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
For the reasons set forth in the Court's Memorandum Opinion of even date, it is, by the Court, this 5th day of September, 1997,
ORDERED that the defendants' Motion to Dismiss shall be, and hereby is, GRANTED with respect to all claims against the defendants District of Columbia Department of Corrections, Moore, and Plaut; and, DENIED with respect to the plaintiff's claims against the unnamed Emergency Response Team officers; and, it is
FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall designate counsel from the Court's Civil Pro Bono Panel pursuant to Local Rule 702.1 to represent plaintiff.
September 5, 1997
ROYCE C. LAMBERTH
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE