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McKenney v. Farrinton

United States District Court, D. Maine

March 2, 2017

OFFICER FARRINTON, et al., Defendants



         In this action, Plaintiff Robert McKenney, an inmate detained in the Androscoggin County Jail, alleges Defendants committed various violations of his constitutional rights, including violations of his right to due process in connection with disciplinary proceedings in the jail. (Complaint, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff also requests a preliminary injunction. (Statement of Claim at 4, ECF No. 1-1).

         Plaintiff has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2), which application the Court granted. (ECF No. 3.) 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).

         Following a review of the complaint and the attachments filed by Plaintiff, I recommend the Court dismiss Plaintiff's claims, except for Plaintiff's claim of retaliation based on the alleged denial of participation in a work program.

         Standard of Review

         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 complaint is subject to screening under the Prison Litigation Reform Act because Plaintiff is currently 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).

         When 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”).

         Background Facts[1]

         On November 1, 2016, Plaintiff was transferred from Cumberland County Jail to Androscoggin County Jail because jail administrators concluded Plaintiff had an inappropriate relationship with a member of the staff at the Cumberland County Jail. (Statement of Claim at 1, ECF No. 1-1, ¶ 1, PageID # 4.) Defendant Officer Farrinton, described by Plaintiff as a programs officer, told Plaintiff he would not receive work through the Androscoggin County Jail if the work would place him near women. Defendant Farrinton allegedly called Plaintiff a “manipulator” and “predator.” (Id.) Plaintiff filed complaints with the jail about his interaction with Defendant Farrinton, but Defendant Lieutenant Feldman returned the complaints and advised Plaintiff not to file frivolous complaints or Plaintiff would be placed in segregation. (Id.)

         On November 24, 2016, Plaintiff received a disciplinary write-up for assault. At a subsequent hearing on the matter, the disciplinary board found him guilty and sentenced him to 10 days in segregation. (Id. ¶ 2.) Defendant Farrinton was the chairperson of the board. (Id.) Plaintiff also asserts Defendant Farrinton informed him that as part of the discipline, he would not be permitted to work for the balance of his sentence. (PageID # 6.) At the hearing, Plaintiff was not permitted to call witnesses, or review the officer's reports or the alleged victim's statement. (Id.) Defendants Officer Stone and Corporal Prosser, who were present at the hearing, did not intervene when Plaintiff objected to Defendant Farrinton's participation and his violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights. (Id.)

         Plaintiff also asserts that when he complained to the jail about certain insults, including that he was a “rapist dirtbag, ” made by a corrections officer, Defendant Farrinton informed him the alleged insults did not support a complaint. (PageID # 6.) In addition, Plaintiff maintains Defendant Farrinton denied Plaintiff credit for work Plaintiff performed in November 2016 (PageID # 10), and denied Plaintiff good time credit for Plaintiff's work in November. (PageID # 11.) According to Plaintiff, when he complained about the good time, Defendant Farrinton determined the complaint was frivolous, and threatened Plaintiff with disciplinary action if Plaintiff continued to file such complaints. (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges that before he filed this action, he wrote numerous requests to Defendants Stone and Farrinton for the services of a notary public, law materials, and access to a copier. The requests were ignored. (PageID # 12.)

         In his motion for preliminary injunction, Plaintiff asks the Court to transfer him back to the Cumberland County Jail. (PageID # 7.) Plaintiff also asks the Court to direct Defendants to implement a policy that prevents officers from answering complaints against them. (PageID # 9.) Finally, Plaintiff evidently requests an ...

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