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Gagnon v. Correct Care Solutions

United States District Court, D. Maine

December 21, 2016

SCOTT GAGNON, a/k/a Missy Gagnon, Plaintiff
CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, et al ., Defendants


          John C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         In this action, Plaintiff Scott Gagnon, also known as Missy Gagnon, an inmate in the custody of the Maine Department of Corrections, alleges that Defendant Correct Care Solutions acted with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious health needs.

         Plaintiff filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 3), which application the Court granted. (ECF No. 4.) On November 14, 2016, the Court ordered service of Plaintiff's complaint on Correct Care Solutions. On November 25, 2016, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend (ECF No. 10) and an amended complaint. (ECF No. 11.)

         In accordance with the in forma pauperis statute, a preliminary review of Plaintiff's pleadings is appropriate. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Additionally, Plaintiff's pleadings are 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).

         Following a review of the pleadings, I grant the motion to amend, and recommend the Court dismiss certain claims set forth in Plaintiff's amended complaint.

         Factual Background

         In Plaintiff's original complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant has demonstrated deliberate indifference toward Plaintiff's need for certain medical treatment. Because the Court previously ordered service on Plaintiff's core claim, I do not address the claim in this Recommended Decision.

         In Plaintiff's original complaint, Plaintiff also purports to assert a claim on behalf of two other inmates in the Maine Correctional Center. (Complaint at 6 - 7, ECF No. 1.) Through the amended complaint, Plaintiff purports to join as additional defendants the Maine Correctional Center and unnamed officials and corrections staff. (Amended Complaint at 2, ECF No. 11.) Plaintiff also asserts a new claim regarding mail at the Correctional Center. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Correct Care Solutions and the proposed additional Defendants have worked “in collusion” and opened Plaintiff's mail without reasonable suspicion that it contained contraband, in violation of the applicable policy and Plaintiff's due process rights. (Id. at 5.)

         Motion to Amend

         Rule 15(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a litigant to amend a pleading “once as a matter of course, ” subject to certain time constraints. Thereafter, leave of court is required, though leave should be granted “freely . . . when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2); see also Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). To the extent the Court determines that a claim advanced or supplemented by means of a motion to amend would be futile because the facts fail to state a claim for which relief may be granted, the Court can deny the motion. Chiang v. Skeirik, 582 F.3d 238, 244 (1st Cir. 2009).

         Plaintiff filed the motion to amend and the amended complaint before any responsive pleading was filed in answer to the original complaint. Because Plaintiff is entitled to amend once as a matter of course, the motion to amend is granted and Plaintiff's amended complaint is accepted as the operative pleading in this case. Certain claims set forth in the amended complaint, however, are susceptible to summary dismissal.

         Screening Analysis

         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).

         In addition to the review contemplated by § 1915, Plaintiff's amended 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 ...

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