Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ruffin v. Hinkley

United States District Court, D. Maine

August 25, 2017

JOHN HINKLEY, et al., Defendants


          John C. Nivison, U.S. Magistrate Judge

         In this action, Plaintiff Daniel Ruffin, an inmate presently incarcerated at the Maine State Prison, alleges Defendants discriminated against him based on his religion, race, and grievance activity, while he was incarcerated at the Knox County Jail.

         Plaintiff's original complaint was the subject of a prior order that dismissed some, but not all, of the claims in Plaintiff's complaint. (Order Affirming and Adopting Recommended Decision, ECF No. 19; see also Recommended Decision After Screening Complaint, ECF No. 10.) Before the Court arranged for service of Plaintiff's complaint, Plaintiff filed motions to amend on June 8, 2017, and on June 15, 2017. (ECF Nos. 11, 13.) Plaintiff's original complaint, therefore, has not been served. The Court construed the two motions as one motion to amend and granted the motions “as a matter of course” pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15. (ECF Nos. 15, 16.)

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

         In its prior decision, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's claim related to the diet served to Plaintiff at the Knox County Jail and dismissed Plaintiff's due process claim regarding the prison grievance process. The Court authorized Plaintiff to proceed on the following claims: (1) a claim under the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause, based on allegations of disadvantageous treatment of Muslims as compared to Christians with respect to the availability of religious items and programming; and (2) a claim of discrimination in prison housing. (ECF No. 19.)

         Through his amendments, Plaintiff introduces new allegations to support his claims that Defendants discriminated against him on the basis of religion and retaliated against him on the basis of grievance activity. He evidently also attempts to assert a claim based on his alleged lack of access to the courts.

         Standard of Review

         The federal in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915, is designed to ensure meaningful access to the federal courts for those persons unable to pay the costs of bringing an action. When a party is proceeding in forma pauperis, however, “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 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).

         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), this is “not to say that pro se plaintiffs are not required to plead basic facts sufficient to state a claim”, Ferranti v. Moran, 618 F.2d 888, 890 (1st Cir. 1980). To allege a civil action in federal court, it is not enough for a plaintiff merely to allege that a defendant acted unlawfully; a plaintiff must affirmatively allege facts that identify the manner by which the defendant subjected the plaintiff to a harm for which the law affords a remedy. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         Supplemental Allegations[1]

         A. First Motion to Amend

         In the first motion to amend, Plaintiff repeated claims previously asserted in his complaint, [2] and he made the following additional assertions.

         1. Access to court.

According to Plaintiff, he should have been able to commence this litigation in January 2017, rather than in April 2017, but the complaint he attempted to file in January was not mailed by Defendants Hinkley and Norweg, allegedly because they were upset as the result of ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.