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Roberts v. Littlefield

United States District Court, District of Maine

June 16, 2014

KEVIN ROBERTS, Plaintiff
v.
REGGIE LITTLEFIELD, et als., Defendants.

Plaintiff KEVIN ROBERTS represented by KEVIN ROBERTS HOWARD R. YOUNG

Defendant JOHN DOES 1 - 4 represented by CASSANDRA S. SHAFFER WHEELER & AREY, PETER T. MARCHESI WHEELER & AREY,

Defendant JANE DOE represented by CASSANDRA S. SHAFFER, PETER T. MARCHESI

Defendant REGGIE LITTLEFIELD represented by CASSANDRA S. SHAFFER, PETER T. MARCHESI

Defendant JEFF CHUTE represented by CASSANDRA S. SHAFFER, PETER T. MARCHESI

Defendant JOHN LEBEL represented by CASSANDRA S. SHAFFER, Defendant JOHN LEBEL represented by CASSANDRA S. SHAFFER

RECOMMENDED DECISION

John C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge

In this action, Plaintiff Kevin Roberts, proceeding pro se, joined members of the staff of the Androscoggin County Jail as defendants. Plaintiff evidently complains about an incident or incidents that occurred while Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Androscoggin County Jail.

The matter is before the Court on Defendants’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No. 17). Through their motion, Defendants, with the exception of Defendant Reggie Littlefield, seek summary judgment based on Plaintiff’s deposition testimony that Plaintiff wishes to limit this action to his claim against Defendant Littlefield.

Following a review of the pleadings, as explained below, the recommendation is that the Court deny the motion, but issue an Order to Show Cause.[1]

Background Facts

In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on May 30, 2013, Defendant Littlefield used excessive force on Plaintiff during a cell extraction. (Complaint, ECF No. 1.) As alleged, Defendant Littlefield pepper sprayed Plaintiff in the face without provocation or need, used his knee to apply pressure to Plaintiff’s head while he was being held on the ground by others, and pepper sprayed Plaintiff after Plaintiff was secured in restraints. (Complaint ¶¶ 17-21.) Plaintiff names as additional defendants on the excessive force claim three John Doe defendants (John Does 1, 2, and 4) and one Jane Doe defendant.[2] According to Plaintiff’s allegations, John Does 1, 2, and 4, and Jane Doe participated in the May 30 cell extraction. (Id. ¶¶ 15, 18, 19, 23.)

Plaintiff also alleges a claim of First Amendment retaliation against John Doe 3. Plaintiff asserts that on June 14, 2013, John Doe 3 treated Plaintiff differently than other inmates when he kept Plaintiff in lockdown after releasing other inmates after Plaintiff voiced his objection to the lockdown, and expressed his intention to file a grievance over the lockdown. (Id. ¶¶ 30-33.) Plaintiff also contends that after he completed a grievance form, he was informed that because he threatened John Doe 3, he would be punished with a 48-hour lockdown. Plaintiff complains of retaliation for his grievance activity, which includes a grievance that he filed regarding the May 30, 2013, use of force. (Id. ¶¶ 33-38.)

In addition to Defendant Littlefield and the Doe defendants, Plaintiff joined as defendants, Jeff Chute, described as a lieutenant responsible for reviewing and answering inmate grievances, and John Lebel, described as the captain of the corrections officers. (Id. ¶¶ 8-9.) Plaintiff maintains that they share liability because they failed to act to curb “abuse” inflicted by Defendant Littlefield and other officers. (Id. ¶ 42.)

The sole basis of Defendants’ motion is Plaintiff’s deposition testimony that the only claim that he wants to pursue is his excessive force claim against Defendant Littlefield.[3] In particular, Defendants cite the following testimony regarding the excessive force claim:

Q. Do you think that Dugay or Luce or Carr did anything wrong?
A. No.
Q. Okay. So for this incident -- A. They all ...

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