United States District Court, D. Maine
NICHOLAS A. GLADU, Plaintiff
MAINE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants
RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER REVIEW PURSUANT TO 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e), 1915A
C. NIVISON, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
action, Plaintiff Nicholas Gladu, an inmate in the custody of
the Maine Department of Corrections, alleges that Defendants
violated his constitutional rights because they denied him
access to medical literature through the library service at
the Maine State Prison.
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).
review of Plaintiff's complaint, I recommend the Court
dismiss the complaint.
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).
alleges that he asked the librarian at the Maine State
Prison, Defendant Weddle, to provide him with “medical
reference materials” related to specific medical
conditions, that Defendant Weddle denied his request and
advised him to request a consultation with the medical
department, and that Defendants Mathiau, Liberty and Thornell
upheld Defendant Weddle's decision in the context of
Plaintiff's related grievance. (Complaint ¶¶ 9
- 17.) Plaintiff suggests the information is related to his
pending litigation regarding the quality of the medical care
he has received while incarcerated. (Id. ¶13.)
Plaintiff specifically asserts that the medical reference
materials are necessary “to assist him in advocating
for better medical care and treatment.” (Id.
Bounds v. Smith, the Supreme Court held “that
the fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts
requires prison authorities to assist inmates in the
preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by
providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate
assistance from persons trained in the law.” 430 U.S.
817, 828 (1977). In Lewis v. Casey, the Supreme
Court observed that “[b]ecause Bounds did not
create an abstract, freestanding right to a law library or
legal assistance, an inmate cannot establish relevant actual
injury [for purposes of standing to sue] simply by
establishing that his prison's law library or legal
assistance program is subpar in some theoretical
sense.” 518 U.S. 343, 351 (1996).
Plaintiff has not cited, and research has not revealed, legal
precedent establishing that the Constitution requires prison
administrators to provide inmates with a medical reference
library as part of the prison's obligation “to
assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful
legal papers” as contemplated by Bounds. In
fact, in Lewis, the Supreme Court made clear that a
prison was not required to “enable the prisoner to
discover grievances, and to litigate
effectively once in court.” Id. at 354
(emphasis in original). In addition, even if providing access
to medical literature is deemed in some instances to be
within a prison's obligation to assist inmates in the
preparation of their legal matters, ...