United States District Court, D. Maine
RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER SCREENING COMPLAINT
PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)
C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge
action, Plaintiff Albion Savage Browne, formerly an inmate in
the custody of the Maine Department of Corrections, alleges
that while he was incarcerated, the staff of the Maine
Correctional Center, including corrections staff and medical
staff, violated his constitutional rights.
filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No.
2), which application the Court granted. (ECF No. 4.) In
accordance with the in forma pauperis statute, a preliminary
review of Plaintiff's complaint is appropriate. 28 U.S.C.
the review, I recommend the Court dismiss the Maine
Department of Corrections and the generally-identified
“medical staff” members, but permit Plaintiff the
opportunity to amend to assert his claim against the
individuals he maintains are responsible for the alleged
deprivation of his constitutional rights in connection with
his medical care.
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).
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 he has suffered, over the course of a year,
violations of the Eighth Amendment, the Thirteenth Amendment,
and the Fourteenth Amendment. (Complaint at 4, ECF No. 1,
PageID # 4.) Plaintiff asserts that the medical department at
the Correctional Center “put off, denied and ignored
serious medical conditions causing lifelong disability,
” and that security denied medication access and with
threats of violence and sanctions forced Plaintiff to perform
“exceedingly dangerous jobs tasks work
assignments.” (Id. at 5.) According to
Plaintiff, the Department of Corrections allows and
encourages this treatment. (Id.) Plaintiff maintains
that as the result of Defendants' conduct, he lost the
use of an eye, experiences vision headaches, lacks depth
perception, and has problems with his balance. (Id.)
Plaintiff did not identify any individual against whom he
asserts a claim.
of constitutional harm caused by state actors, as Plaintiff
has alleged in this case, is actionable under the Civil
Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides, in
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State …,
subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the
United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof
to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the
party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other
proper proceeding for redress, ….
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 “‘is not
itself a source of substantive rights, ' but merely
provides ‘a method for vindicating federal rights
elsewhere conferred.'” Albright v. Oliver,
510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994) (quoting Baker v. McCollan,
443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3 (1979)). To maintain a claim under
section 1983, a plaintiff must establish: “1) that the
conduct complained of has been committed under color of state
law, and 2) that this conduct worked a denial of rights
secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States.” Barreto-Rivera v. Medina-Vargas, 168
F.3d 42, 45 (1st Cir. 1999).
to limited exceptions not applicable in this case, the State
of Maine has immunity under the Eleventh Amendment against
suits brought by citizens in federal court, regardless of the
form of relief requested. Poirier v. Mass. Dep't of
Corr., 558 F.3d 92, 97 n. 6 (1st Cir. 2009). To the
extent Plaintiff asserts his claim against the Department of
Corrections, he is requesting relief against the State of
Maine that is barred in federal court pursuant to the
Eleventh Amendment. Additionally, while a federal district
court would have jurisdiction under the Civil Rights Act over
claims against persons exercising state authority, §
1983 does not authorize claims against the state or its
agencies. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police,491 U.S. 58, 64 (1989); see also Nieves- Marquez v.
Puerto Rico,353 F.3d 108, 124 (1st Cir.2003) (“No
cause of action for damages is stated under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against a state, its agency, or its officials acting in
an official capacity.”). Accordingly, Plaintiff cannot
proceed on his claim against the Maine Department of
Corrections or the Maine Correctional ...