United States District Court, D. Maine
RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER SCREENING COMPLAINT
PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(E), 1915A
C. NIVISON U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
action, Plaintiff Jeffrey Paul Barnard, an inmate currently
incarcerated at the Somerset County Jail, seeks to recover
for injuries he alleges he sustained in a 2014 standoff in
Ellsworth, Maine, which standoff involved state, county and
municipal law enforcement officers. Plaintiff also purports
to assert a claim on behalf of his wife, Vicki Barnard.
filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No.
2), which application the Court granted. (ECF No. 3.) In
accordance with the in forma pauperis statute, a preliminary
review of Plaintiff’s complaint is appropriate. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Additionally, Plaintiff’s
complaint is subject to screening “before docketing, if
feasible or … as soon as practicable after docketing,
” because he is “a prisoner seek[ing] redress
from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a
governmental entity.” 29 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
a review of the pleadings, I recommend the Court dismiss all
defendants named in the caption unless Plaintiff amends his
complaint, in accordance with the recommendation, to assert
an actionable claim against one or more of the named
defendants. I also recommend the Court construe
Plaintiff’s complaint to assert a federal claim against
Officer Troy Bires.
party is proceeding in forma pauperis, “the court shall
dismiss the case at any time if the court determines, ”
inter alia, that the action is “frivolous or
malicious” or “fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
“Dismissals [under § 1915] are often made sua
sponte prior to the issuance of process, so as to spare
prospective defendants the inconvenience and expense of
answering such complaints.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989).
addition to the review contemplated by § 1915,
Plaintiff’s complaint is subject to screening under the
Prison Litigation Reform Act because Plaintiff currently is
incarcerated and seeks redress from governmental entities and
officers. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (c). The
§ 1915A screening requires courts to “identify
cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of
the complaint, if the complaint (1) is frivolous, malicious,
or fails to state a claim …; or (2) seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
considering whether a complaint states a claim for which
relief may be granted, courts must assume the truth of all
well-plead facts and give the plaintiff the benefit of all
reasonable inferences therefrom. Ocasio-Hernandez v.
Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011). A
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). “The relevant question ... in assessing
plausibility is not whether the complaint makes any
particular factual allegations but, rather, whether
‘the complaint warrant[s] dismissal because it failed
in toto to render plaintiffs’ entitlement to
relief plausible.’” Rodríguez- Reyes
v. Molina-Rodríguez, 711 F.3d 49, 55 (1st Cir.
2013) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 569 n. 14).
Although a pro se plaintiff’s complaint is subject to
“less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted
by lawyers, ” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520 (1972), the complaint may not consist entirely of
“conclusory allegations that merely parrot the relevant
legal standard, ” Young v. Wells Fargo, N.A.,
717 F.3d 224, 231 (1st Cir. 2013). See also Ferranti v.
Moran, 618 F.2d 888, 890 (1st Cir. 1980) (explaining
that the liberal standard applied to the pleadings of pro se
plaintiffs “is not to say that pro se plaintiffs are
not required to plead basic facts sufficient to state a
complaint, Plaintiff names as Defendants the State of Maine,
the Maine State Police, the City of Ellsworth, the Ellsworth
Police Department, the Hancock County Sheriff Department, the
City of Bangor, and the Bangor Police Department. As alleged,
each of these entities employed law enforcement officers who
were present at the standoff which ended with the use of
“extreme excessive force.” (Complaint at 3.)
only individual officer identified in the complaint is
Officer Troy Bires. According to Plaintiff, Officer Bires was
the first officer on the scene. Plaintiff alleges Officer
Bires is responsible for his injuries as follows:
This started out as a civil matter, but because of the police
officer [who] was first on the scene, [t]he situation became
out of control. The responding office[r], Troy Bires, pulled
out his gun, pointed it at this plaintiff, without any
provocation from above plaintiffs. He kept his gun pointed at
[my] head trying [to] intimidate me, yelling and screaming at
me to give him the tractor key I had. I s[h]owed this officer
I was unarmed, still he kept his gun pointed at my head. I
was not [a] threat to him.
(Id. at 3, ¶ IV.)
Plaintiff further ...