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 Robert McKenney, an inmate in the York
County Jail, alleges that he has been wrongly classified as
maximum security whenever he has been assigned to the
Cumberland County Jail. Plaintiff asserts his claim against
“Officer Ryder in classification, ” Captain Butts
(described as the “overseer of all security”),
and Sheriff Kevin Joyce who “oversees everything at the
jail [and] also the County of Cumberland.” (Complaint
at 4, ECF No. 1.)
filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis
(ECF No. 2), which application the Court granted (ECF No. 5).
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.” 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A, I
recommend the Court dismiss Plaintiff's complaint.
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 claim”).
alleges that in 2012, while serving two consecutive
nine-month sentences in the Cumberland County Jail (CCJ), he
was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a
member of the corrections staff. (Complaint, ECF No. 1)
Pending a criminal investigation, Plaintiff was transferred
to other correctional facilities in Maine, and was classified
as maximum security for some of the time. Plaintiff was
released from custody in 2013. (Statement of Claim at 1, ECF
2016, Plaintiff was arrested and processed at the CCJ.
“[D]ue to a violent crime [he] was arrested for,
” Plaintiff was initially classified as maximum.
(Id. at 2.) Soon after his arrival at the jail,
officials at the CCJ transferred Plaintiff to the York County
Jail (YCJ) to prevent contact between Plaintiff and the CCJ
staff member with whom he allegedly had an improper
relationship. At YCJ, Plaintiff was placed in maximum
security for five days before being reclassified to general
population, where he has remained ever since “with no
disciplinary action.” (Id.) On occasion, when
transported to court proceedings in Cumberland County,
Plaintiff has been held temporarily in maximum security at
the CCJ, purportedly to prevent contact with the staff
maintains Defendants unlawfully classified him as maximum
security. He contends prison policies or regulations provide
that maximum security is reserved for prisoners who present
security risks or who present a danger to themselves or
others. (Id. at 3.) After Plaintiff wrote a letter
challenging his classification, his classification at the CCJ
was changed. (Id.) Plaintiff describes his claim as
a denial of due process based on the denial of a
classification hearing. (Id.)
September 26, 2016, Plaintiff filed a supplemental pleading.
(ECF No. 8.) In the pleading, Plaintiff alleges that on
September 12, he was sentenced to 364 days in county jail, to
be followed by a six-month consecutive sentence. After
sentencing, Plaintiff asked Defendant Ryder whether he will
qualify for the prerelease program administered by Cumberland
County when he has six months or less remaining on his
sentence. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Ryder informed
Plaintiff that because of his inappropriate relationship with
the corrections staff member at the CCJ, he would not be
assigned to the CCJ and thus would not be ...