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 Gregory Paul Violette, a former participant
in the reentry program administered by Volunteers of America
Northern New England, at its Northern Maine Regional Reentry
Center, alleges his federal rights were violated when a
safety officer, Mr. Ripley, opened Plaintiff's legal
mail. (Complaint, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff has also filed a
motion to compel the disclosure of the address of certain
individual defendants, and a motion for leave to file an
addendum. (Motion to Compel, ECF No. 5; Motion for
Leave, ECF No. 6.)
filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No.
4), which application the Court granted. (ECF No. 8.) In
accordance with the in forma pauperis statute, a preliminary
review of Plaintiff's complaint is appropriate. 28 U.S.C.
a review of the complaint in accordance with 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2), I recommend the Court dismiss Plaintiff's
party is proceeding in forma pauperis, “the court shall
dismiss the case at any time if the court determines”
that the action is “frivolous or malicious, ”
“fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted,
” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant
who is immune from such relief.” 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.'” Rodriguez-Reyes v. Molina-
Rodriguez, 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 while he was a participant in the reentry
program conducted by Volunteers of America Northern New
England at its Northern Maine Regional Reentry Center, Mr.
Ripley opened Plaintiff's outgoing legal mail. The mail
(a “box and package”) was addressed to
Plaintiff's attorney. According to Plaintiff, he told Mr.
Ripley the mail was legal mail, but Mr. Ripley nevertheless
has joined Mr. Ripley, Ms. Francis, a program manager, the
United States Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of
Prisons, Volunteers of America Northern New England, and the
Northern Maine Regional Reentry Center as defendants.
Plaintiff alleges the defendants other than Mr. Ripley failed
to train Mr. Ripley.
“Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.
They cannot act in the absence of subject matter
jurisdiction, and they have a sua sponte duty to confirm the
existence of jurisdiction in the face of apparent
jurisdictional defects.” United States v. Univ. of
Mass., Worcester, 812 F.3d 35, 44 (1st Cir. 2016). In
this case, Plaintiff, a Maine citizen, has asserted a claim
against a group of proposed defendants that includes at least
two citizens of Maine (Mr. Ripley and Ms. Francis). Plaintiff
thus has not alleged the diversity of citizenship necessary
for diversity jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Given the
lack of diversity jurisdiction, in the absence of any
cognizable federal claim, this Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claim.
evidently attempts to invoke this Court's federal
question jurisdiction by alleging that the proposed
defendants violated his constitutional right to send
confidential correspondence to his attorney. To the extent
Plaintiff seeks to proceed against private parties, Plaintiff
has not cited any authority to support a recovery under
federal law against a private person or entity based on the
facts alleged. Indeed, even when a constitutional right is at
stake, the Supreme Court has not recognized implied damages
actions against private corporations under contract with the
Bureau of Prisons. Corr. Servs. Corp. v. Malesko,
534 U.S. 61, 66 (2001). See also Stoutt v. Banco Popular
de Puerto Rico, 320 F.3d 26, 33 (1st Cir. 2003)
(“The Supreme Court has already limited Bivens
actions by refusing to extend them to private entities acting
under color of federal law.”).
extent Plaintiff seeks to proceed against the United States
based on his inclusion of the Bureau of Prisons among the
named defendants, while this Court has subject matter
jurisdiction over certain claims against the United States,
28 U.S.C. § 1346, Plaintiff's claim is based on the
conduct of Volunteers for America and its agent, Mr. Ripley,
and not the conduct of the Bureau of Prisons. In other words,
Plaintiff has not asserted any facts that would support a
claim against the Bureau of Prisons. Given the ...