United States District Court, D. Maine
JOHN P. ROSS, Plaintiff
YORK COUNTY JAIL, Defendant
RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER SCREENING COMPLAINT
PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(E), 1915A
C. NIVISON U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
action, Plaintiff John Ross, an inmate in the custody of the
Maine Department of Corrections, alleges that an officer of
the York County Jail did not permit Plaintiff to mail his
personal property to an out-of-state recipient before he was
transferred to the Maine State Prison, and informed Plaintiff
that his property would be destroyed if someone did not
retrieve it. Plaintiff commenced this action to recover his
property or the value of his property.
filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No.
4), which application the Court granted. (ECF No. 5.) 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).
a review of Plaintiff's complaint, I recommend the Court
dismiss the complaint without prejudice.
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).
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
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).
who is presently incarcerated at the Downeast Correctional
Facility (see ECF No. 7), alleges that he entered state
custody at the York County Jail. Subsequently, Plaintiff was
transferred to the Maine State Prison. According to
Plaintiff, prior to the transfer, an officer at the York
County Jail asked him to complete certain paper work to
arrange for someone to pick up his personal property.
Plaintiff alleges he told the officer that because he was not
a Maine resident, he did not have anyone who could retrieve
was transferred without making any arrangements for the
disposition of his property. Plaintiff alleges the property
is now lost because he was informed it would be destroyed if
he did not make arrangements within 30 days of his transfer,
which period has now expired. Plaintiff attached to his
complaint a copy of a motion for the return of property,
which motion Plaintiff evidently filed in York County
Superior Court in July 2017. Plaintiff's property
consisted of jewelry, articles of clothing, and a cell phone.
filed this action against the York County Jail. While the
jail facility is not a proper defendant, the Court can
reasonably construe the complaint to assert a claim against
York County. Plaintiff, however, ...