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Adams v. Monahan

United States District Court, D. Maine

September 29, 2017

JON ROBERT ADAMS, Plaintiff
v.
LUKE MONAHAN, Defendant

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND AND RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER SCREENING AMENDED COMPLAINT

          John C. Nivison, U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         In this action, Plaintiff Jon Robert Adams, an inmate in the custody of the Department of Corrections, alleges that Defendant Luke Monahan has denied him access to the courts.[1] The matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's motion to amend, through which motion Plaintiff seeks to join Deputy Warden Susan Carr as a party defendant. (ECF No. 21.)

         Because Defendant has not yet filed a response to the complaint, Plaintiff is entitled to amend his complaint once as a matter of course. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(B).[2]Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion to amend is granted.

         Plaintiff also filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 3), which application the Court granted (ECF No. 7). 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 “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 amended complaint, I recommend the Court dismiss Plaintiff's personal capacity claim against Deputy Warden Carr.

         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” 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).

         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).

         Factual Background

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Monahan, the unit manager for Plaintiff's cell block, has denied Plaintiff meaningful access to the law library, and that the denial of access has interfered with his ability to conduct litigation in which he is involved in state court. According to Plaintiff, he receives one hour per week in the library and Defendant Monahan has denied his request for additional time unless and until Plaintiff informs Defendant Monahan that he has a court deadline to meet.

         Plaintiff unsuccessfully grieved the matter with Defendant Monahan in June 2017. (ECF No. 1-7.) On September 1, 2017, Plaintiff received a further grievance response from Warden Scott Landry. Warden Landry advised Plaintiff to address the matter with Deputy Warden Carr, Defendant Monahan's supervisor. (Amended Complaint ¶ 43.)

         On September 1, 2017, Plaintiff filed a supplemental grievance with Deputy Warden Carr. (Amended Complaint ¶ 39.) Plaintiff alleges that he “never received a response” and that his “grievance went unanswered and ignored.” (Id. ΒΆ 41.) The Court received the motion to amend and the proposed amended ...


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