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 James Lee Wood, an inmate in custody at the
York County Jail, alleges the cost of goods at the prison
commissary violate the County's policies. (Complaint, ECF
No. 1.) Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and money damages.
Plaintiff filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis
(ECF No. 4), which application the Court granted (ECF No. 6).
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 Plaintiff's complaint, I recommend the Court
dismiss the 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
alleges that Defendants have violated and evidently continue
to violate York County's policy that requires the cost of
items sold in the jail commissary, or canteen, reflect the
average retail price in the community. (Complaint at 3.)
Plaintiff asserts the cost of items in the commissary is
consistently higher than in the community.
alleged violation of a jail policy is not an actionable
federal claim. Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 250
- 51 (1983) (“The State may choose to require
procedures for reasons other than protection against
deprivation of substantive rights, of course, but in making
that choice the State does not create an independent
substantive right.”); Phillips v. Norris, 320
F.3d 844, 847 (8th Cir. 2003) (“[T]here is no federal
constitutional liberty interest in having state officers
follow state law or prison officials follow prison
regulations.”). Plaintiff also does not have a
constitutional right to purchase items in the jail commissary
at a particular cost. French v. Butterworth, 614
F.2d 23, 25 (1st Cir. 1980) (“reject[ing] [the]
contention that … inmates have a constitutionally
protected interest in buying food as cheaply as
possible”). See also DeBrew v. Atwood, 792
F.3d 118, 129 (D.C. Cir. 2015); Stergios v. Sheriff
Cumberland Cty., No. 2:10-CV-00365-GZS, 2010 WL 3842154,
at *1, 2010 U.S. Dist. Lexis 102848, at *1 (D. Me. Aug. 31,
2010). Plaintiff, therefore, has failed to assert an
actionable federal claim.
on the foregoing analysis, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), I recommend the