United States District Court, D. Maine
RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER SCREENING AMENDED
C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge.
March 8, 2016, after screening Plaintiff’s complaint in
accordance with 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A, I
recommended the Court dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint.
(ECF No. 9.) Subsequently, Plaintiff moved to amend his
complaint (ECF No. 16), which motion was granted. (ECF No.
23.) In his amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendants
failed to ensure that Plaintiff’s prison grievances
were properly investigated and addressed. (Am. Compl., ECF
No. 24.) He requests declaratory relief, damages, and an
injunction requiring the Department of Corrections to amend
its prison grievance policies. Upon review of
Plaintiff’s allegations, I recommend the Court afford
Plaintiff another opportunity to amend his complaint, and in
the event Plaintiff fails to state an actionable claim, the
Court dismiss this action.
review of the prior recommended decision, Plaintiff evidently
concluded that his complaint was deficient because he failed
to include sufficient facts regarding his grievance activity.
In his amended complaint, Plaintiff describes in some detail
his history of filing prison grievances regarding a variety
of conditions and incidents at the Maine State Prison.
According to the allegations in the amended complaint, most
of Plaintiff’s grievances focused on the grievance
procedure itself and the manner in which Defendants responded
to or ignored Plaintiff’s grievances. Consistent with
that focus, in this case, Plaintiff asserts that the harm for
which he requests relief is Defendants’ failure to
follow the prison grievance procedures, and Defendants’
failure to issue grievance receipts to prisoners, which the
grievance policy does not currently require and thus would
involve an amendment of the prison grievance policy.
determining whether a prisoner has asserted an actionable
civil rights claim, courts assess (1) whether the prisoner
has identified an underlying event or occurrence that could
support a finding that he suffered the deprivation of a
constitutional or other federal right as the result of state
action by a particular defendant and (2) whether the prisoner
has requested appropriate relief for the deprivation from the
appropriate defendant(s). 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Johnson
v. Rodriguez, 943 F.2d 104, 108 (1st Cir. 1991). In
other words, in the context of prisoner civil rights
litigation, the focus is the merit of the prisoner’s
substantive claim, and not whether the prison has followed
its grievance process.
do not focus on whether a prison followed its grievance
procedures because “state grievance procedures do not
create substantive liberty interests protected by due
process.” Courtney v. Devore, 595 Fed.
App’x 618, 620 - 21 (7th Cir. 2014) (unpublished).
See also Flick v. Alba, 932 F.2d 728, 729
(8th Cir. 1991) (per curiam) (“When the claim
underlying the administrative grievance involves a
constitutional right, the prisoner’s right to petition
the government for redress is the right of access to the
courts, which is not compromised by the prison’s
refusal to entertain his grievance.”); Charriez v.
Sec’y, Florida Dep’t of Corr., 596 Fed.
App’x 890, 895 (11th Cir. 2015) (unpublished)
(“Because the prison grievance procedure does not
create a protected liberty interest, Charriez does not have a
federal constitutional right within that
administrative-grievance procedure.”); Von Hallcy
v. Clements, 519 Fed. App’x 521, 523 (10th Cir.
2013) (unpublished) (“Von Hallcy cannot state a due
process claim based on allegations of an ineffective
grievance reporting system.”); Brown v.
Graham, 470 Fed. App’x 11, 13 (2d Cir. 2012)
(“Brown’s argument that he has a
federally-protected liberty interest in the state’s
compliance with its own prison grievance procedures is
meritless.”); Butler v. Brown, 58 Fed.
App’x. 712 (9th Cir. 2003) (“[A] prisoner has no
constitutional right to prison grievance procedures.”);
Young v. Gundy, 30 Fed. App’x. 568, 569 - 70
(6th Cir. 2002) (unpublished) (“[T]here is no inherent
constitutional right to an effective prison grievance
procedure.”). Because prison grievance procedures are
not mandated or governed by the Constitution or other federal
law,  Plaintiff’s attempt to assert a
claim based on Defendants’ alleged failure to follow
the prison’s procedures or to assert a claim based on
the appropriateness of Defendants’ procedures fails.
Plaintiff’s allegations, either separately or in
combination, do not assert a claim for violation of a
constitutional or other federal right, Plaintiff, when
describing the alleged procedural irregularities, references
grievances he filed regarding an adverse cell transfer, harm
at the hands of other prisoners, inability to access legal
materials, opened legal mail, interference with access to
counsel, inadequate or denied medical care, and other matters
that could form the basis for a federal civil rights action
against one or more individuals who might be responsible for
the alleged conduct. While Plaintiff’s complaint cannot
reasonably be construed to assert a claim based on the
subject matter of any of the grievances, Plaintiff
conceivably could have intended to assert such a claim. To
clarify Plaintiff’s intent, leave for Plaintiff to
amend further his complaint is warranted.
on the foregoing analysis, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2) and 29 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), I recommend the
Court find that Plaintiff’s amended complaint fails to
state an actionable claim and that the Court dismiss
Plaintiff’s complaint unless, before the expiration of
the 14-day objection period, Plaintiff asserts an actionable
claim in an amended complaint.
may file objections to those specified portions of a
magistrate judge’s report or proposed findings or
recommended decisions entered pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B) for which de novo review by the
district court is sought, together with a supporting
memorandum, within fourteen (14) days of being served with a
to file a timely objection shall constitute a waiver of the
right to de novo review by the district court and ...