Mack v. Johnson
Verbal harassment and threats may not arise to the level of a constitutional violation, for purposes of a civil-rights complaint under 42 United States Code §1983. On June 13, 2012, the plaintiff inmate, Anthony Mack, allegedly fought with his cellmate at Garner Correctional Institution. Corrections officers decided to move Mack from the A-block to the C-block. Mack negotiated to remain on the A-block in a cell that was located in a lower tier. Allegedly, corrections officers threatened Mack that if anyone attacked his former cellmate, they would plant a knife on Mack and charge Mack with assault. Mack allegedly experienced flashbacks, emotional distress, panic attacks, pain and suffering as a result of the threats. Mack sued, alleging that the corrections officers violated his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. §1983. In Cotz v. Mastroeni, a 2007 decision of the Southern District of New York, the court held that verbal harassment and threats, regardless of how inappropriate, unprofessional and reprehensible, are insufficient to violate a federally protected right or to lead to a civil-rights action under 42 U.S.C. §1983. The Connecticut District Court dismissed the plaintiff's complaint.