United States District Court, D. Maine
RECOMMENDED DECISION SCREENING COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO
28 USC §§ 1915, 1915A
C. NIVISON U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
action, Plaintiff Anthony Logan complains of disruption in
the receipt of his mail while incarcerated at the York County
Jail. Plaintiff filed an application to proceed in forma
pauperis (ECF No. 4), which application the Court granted.
(ECF No. 5.)
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).
a review of the pleadings, I recommend the Court dismiss
Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a federal
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
alleges that while incarcerated at the York County Jail, he
received his mail on a regular basis until Corrections
Officer Mayo began working in his pod, at which time Officer
Mayo began reading Plaintiff's mail. According to
Plaintiff, Officer Mayo held some of Plaintiff's mail
without first obtaining Plaintiff's signature on the
appropriate consent form. On September 11, 2016, Plaintiff
received an item of mail dated August 29, 2016. Plaintiff
asserts his claim against the York County Sheriff's
Department and its staff.
prisoner's right to the free flow of incoming and
outgoing mail is protected by the First Amendment.”
Davis v. Goord, 320 F.3d 346, 351 (2d Cir. 2003).
“In balancing the competing interests implicated in
restrictions on prison mail, courts have consistently
afforded greater protection to legal mail than to non-legal
mail, as well as greater protection to outgoing mail than to
incoming mail.” Id. In Wolff v.
McDonnell, the Supreme Court held that legal mail from a
prisoner's counsel can be inspected for contraband while
still preserving the confidential nature of the communication
by opening the mail in the prisoner's presence. 418 U.S.
539, 576 - 77 (1974). However, other than in the context of
mail between attorney and client, which raises special
concerns related to the prisoner's access to the courts,
a prison policy of opening and examining incoming mail does
not raise a constitutional concern. Kaufman v.
McCaughtry, 419 F.3d 678, 685 (7th Cir. 2005)
(“Inmates have a First Amendment right both to send and
receive mail, but that right does not preclude prison
officials from examining mail to ensure that it does not
contain contraband[.]” (citation omitted)).
prisoner's constitutional interest in receiving mail can
be violated by the failure of prison staff to deliver timely
incoming mail. Isolated incidents and short-term delay,
however, do not rise to the level of a constitutional
violation. Sizemore v. Williford, 829 F.2d 608, 610
(7th Cir. 1987) (“[A]n isolated delay or some other
relatively short-term, non content-based disruption in the
delivery of inmate reading materials will not support, even
as against a motion to dismiss, a cause of action grounded
upon the First Amendment.”); Langlois v. Dane Cty.
Sheriffs Office & Deputies, No. 3:08-cv-541, 2008 WL
4722993, at *1 (W.D. Wis. Oct. 23, 2008) (dismissing claim
alleging 10-day denial of all incoming mail during period of
case, Plaintiff's allegations regarding Officer
Mayo's handling of Plaintiff's incoming mail,
including the alleged delay in the delivery of the mail by 13
days, would not support a finding that Defendants violated
Plaintiff's constitutional rights.Rowe v.
Shake, 196 F.3d 778, 780 (7th Cir. 1999) (affirming sua
sponte dismissal where the allegations ...