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Ahearn v. Inland Hospital

United States District Court, D. Maine

September 23, 2016

NICHOLAUS AHEARN, Plaintiff
v.
INLAND HOSPITAL, Defendant

          RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER SCREENING PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(E).

          John C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         In this action, Plaintiff Nicholaus Ahearn seeks relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and on state law claims of fraud and medical negligence against Defendant Inland Hospital arising out of Plaintiff's involuntary hospitalization.

         Plaintiff filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis, which application the Court granted. (ECF Nos. 4, 6). In accordance with the in forma pauperis statute, a preliminary review of Plaintiff's amended complaint is appropriate.[1] 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         Following a review of Plaintiff's amended complaint (ECF No. 7), I recommend the Court dismiss the amended complaint.

         Standard of Review

         To consider the merits of Plaintiff's claims, the Court must have subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”); see also Florio v. Olson, 129 F.3d 678, 680 (1st Cir.1997) (providing that a court has “an obligation to inquire sua sponte into the subject matter jurisdiction of its cases, and to proceed no further if such jurisdiction is lacking” (internal citations and quotations omitted).)

         In addition to the primary concern over jurisdiction, when a 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).

         When 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.” 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 claim”).

         Background Facts

         According to Plaintiff's amended complaint, Plaintiff is a 22 year-old man who lives in Eddington, Maine. (Amended Complaint at 1, ¶ 2, ECF No. 7.) Defendant is a “private hospital” located in Waterville, Maine. (Id. at 1, ¶ 3.) Plaintiff alleges Defendant acted “on behalf of the state through the process of involuntary hospitalization.” (Id.)

         On February 3, 2015, Plaintiff appeared in Defendant's emergency room for treatment of a “basic hand injury.” (Id. at 2, ¶ 1.) Plaintiff alleges he was involuntarily hospitalized by Defendant for fraudulent reasons, which include Defendant's determination that Plaintiff engaged in acts of self-harm, and threatened to assault members of Defendant's staff. (Id. at 2, ¶¶ 3 - 7.) Plaintiff maintains he spent “approximately 1 year 6 months on involuntary treatment” including time “in a forced group home setting” and in a “mental facility.” (Id. at 2, ¶ 10.)

         Plaintiff asserts Defendant's conduct constitutes false imprisonment and an unreasonable seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. (Id. at 2, Claim 1.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant is ...


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