Wilson v. Agustino
To prevail on a §1983 claim against a municipality, a plaintiff must allege that an official policy or custom led to the denial of a constitutional right. The plaintiff, Alvin Wilson, claimed that he was walking to a store in Hartford in June 2012 when Hartford police officers allegedly handcuffed and beat him, kicking him and knocking out his teeth. The plaintiff went to St. Francis Hospital, where a doctor allegedly refused to provide adequate medical treatment. The pro se plaintiff sued the police officers, the City of Hartford and the St. Francis Hospital doctor, alleging that they violated his civil rights under 42 United States Code §1983. In Vasquez v. Marciano, a 2001 decision, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held that an emergency room doctor who provided medical treatment to an arrestee did not qualify as a state actor. The plaintiff's complaint failed to allege that the St. Francis doctor qualified as a "state actor," and the court dismissed the §1983 claim against the doctor. The plaintiff's complaint also failed to allege that police officers beat him as a result of a municipal policy or custom, and the court dismissed the plaintiff's §1983 claim against the City of Hartford and claims against the police officers in their official capacities. "Excessive force used by police officers arresting suspects implicates the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable seizures," pursuant to the 2nd Circuit's 1998 decision, Hemphill v. Schott. The plaintiff's allegations that police officers in their individual capacities used excessive force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment, survived. The court ordered the police officers to file answers or motions to dismiss within 70 days.