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ARNOLD v. MOORE

September 5, 1997

JAMES E. ARNOLD, Plaintiff,
v.
MARGARET A. MOORE, Director of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, WILLIAM PLAUT, Warden of the District of Columbia Detention Facility, and THREE UNNAMED EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM OFFICERS, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LAMBERTH

 INTRODUCTION

 Before the Court in the above-captioned case are the defendants' Motion to Dismiss, filed in response to the Court's Order to Show Cause, and the plaintiff's Opposition thereto. Upon careful consideration of the parties' pleadings, the entire record herein, and the law applicable thereto, and for the reasons expressed below, the Court will grant the defendants' Motion to Dismiss as to all claims against defendants District of Columbia Department of Corrections, Moore, and Plaut. The Court will deny the Motion to Dismiss as to the excessive force claims against the unnamed Emergency Response Team officers.

 BACKGROUND

 The plaintiff, James E. Arnold, is an inmate at the D.C. Detention Facility. The defendants are as follows: the District of Columbia Department of Corrections; Margaret Moore, Director of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections; William Plaut, Warden of the D.C. Detention Facility; and three unnamed Emergency Response Team ("ERT") officers, identified only as "ERT(1)," "ERT(2)" and "ERT(3)."

 The events giving rise to this case occurred on and after February 23, 1996, while the plaintiff was incarcerated at the D.C. Detention Facility. The plaintiff alleges that on February 23, 1996, while returning to his housing unit after a meeting in Corrections Officer Patricia B. Jackson's office, he smelled tear gas and encountered an injured corrections officer, who apparently had been injured in an altercation with other inmates. Compl. at 2; Pl.'s Second Aff. at 1 (July 30, 1996). The officer, Sergeant J. McCulley, had been attacked by several inmates during an uprising and was "bleeding profusely from his head and face and staggering, disoriented and falling from his injuries." Id. The plaintiff further alleges that he was attempting to assist Sergeant McCulley by reaching out to stabilize him and that his actions were mistaken for aggression by ERT officers (the three unnamed defendants identified as ERT(1), ERT(2), and ERT(3)), who were coming to Officer McCulley's assistance. Compl. at 2; Pl.'s First Aff. at 1 (April 24, 1996).

 The plaintiff alleges that the unnamed defendants ordered him to face the wall. The plaintiff immediately turned to face the wall when one officer stated, "You f-- inmates like to stab correctional staff, huh, punk." The plaintiff then was punched from behind, knocking his forehead and face into the wall. The plaintiff was allegedly picked up and slammed down on the concrete floor by the defendant ERT officers, who were screaming, "It's our go now, m-- f--." As the plaintiff tried to explain that he had just come from Officer Jackson's office, the ERT officers allegedly yelled, "Shut your f-- mouth," and "We ought to kill you, m-- f--." Compl. at 2. The defendants then allegedly beat, stomped and stuck him with a black metal flashlight repeatedly until he lost consciousness. Compl. at 2; Pl.'s Second Aff. at 1. The plaintiff claims that he was handcuffed throughout the beating and that he is unable to identify the corrections officers who beat him. Id.

 The plaintiff further alleges that following the beating, he was placed for several days in a feces-infested cell, without heat, running water, and with garbage and urine on the floor. Pl.'s Second Aff. at 1. He also alleges that he was denied bedding, a jumpsuit, heat and eating utensils. Id. at 1-2. The plaintiff also alleges that he was denied medical treatment for several days, even though he was bleeding from the mouth, nose, and head. Compl. at 3; Pl.'s Second Aff. at 2.

 The defendants are being sued individually and in their official capacities as employees of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections. The plaintiff seeks damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violation of the plaintiff's constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment. The plaintiff specifically cites the defendants' use of excessive force, failure to provide adequate medical care, and the plaintiff's conditions of confinement as violative of his constitutional rights.

 DISCUSSION

 I. THE COURT WILL TREAT THE PLAINTIFF'S AFFIDAVITS AS AMENDMENTS TO HIS COMPLAINT.

 Appearing pro se, the plaintiff filed in forma pauperis a handwritten complaint dated March 27, 1996. On July 30, 1996, the plaintiff filed with the Court two of his own affidavits: a typed affidavit dated July 30, 1996, and a handwritten affidavit dated April 24, 1996. The plaintiff notes on the July 30, 1996 affidavit that it was submitted to clarify his complaint, which the defendants found "exceedingly hard to understand." Pl.'s Second Aff. at 1.

 Because the plaintiff submitted his affidavits to clarify his confusing, nearly illegible complaint, and because the Court has a special responsibility to allow ample opportunity for amending pro se complaints, see Donald v. Cook County Sheriff's Dep't, 95 F.3d 548, 555 n.2 (7th Cir. 1996), the Court will treat the plaintiff's affidavits as amendments to his complaint, rather than matters outside the pleadings. Consequently, the Court's consideration of the affidavits does not convert the defendants' Motion to Dismiss to a Motion for Summary Judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b).

 II. THE COURT WILL GRANT THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS THE PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS AGAINST THE DEFENDANT DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS BECAUSE GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ARE NOT SUABLE ENTITIES.

 Governmental agencies of the District of Columbia are not suable entities, or sui non juris. Roberson v. District of Columbia Bd. of Higher Ed., 359 A.2d 28, 31 n.4 (D.C. App. 1976); Miller v. Spencer, 330 A.2d 250, 251 n.1 (D.C. App. 1974). Therefore, all of the plaintiff's claims against the District of Columbia Department of Corrections must be dismissed.

 III. THE COURT WILL GRANT THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS THE PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS AGAINST DEFENDANTS MOORE AND PLAUT FOR FAILURE TO STATE CLAIMS UPON WHICH RELIEF MAY BE GRANTED.

 A. The Court Will Dismiss All Claims Against Defendants Moore and Plaut to the Extent That They are Being Sued in ...


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