United States District Court, D. Maine
NICHOLAS A. GLADU, Plaintiff
JOSEPH FITZPATRICK, et al., Defendants
RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER REVIEW OF COMPLAINT
PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(E), 1915A
C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge.
action, Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the Maine
Department of Corrections at the Maine State Prison, alleges
Defendants violated his constitutional rights following an
incident in February 2018. He also attempts to assert a class
action on behalf of others who are similarly situated.
(Complaint, ECF No. 1.)
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 a review “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 Plaintiff's class action allegations and dismiss
all of Plaintiff's claims except for his claim against
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 on February 11, 2018, he received two
“heavy applications” of pepper spray when he
refused to “cuff up” for a cell extraction, and
that he was subsequently denied access to a shower for three
days after he was placed in Emergency Observation Status
(EOS). (Complaint ¶¶ 11 - 19, ECF No. 1.) In
particular, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Manning, identified
as a sergeant at the Maine State Prison, denied
Plaintiff's request for a shower for a period of three
days, even though Plaintiff reported to Defendant “that
his skin was burning from head-to-toe.” (Id.
¶¶ 18 - 20, 23.) Additionally, Plaintiff alleges
that Defendant Manning denied Plaintiff access to other means
of decontamination in his cell (i.e., wash cloths and
towels), even though prison policy does not deny EOS
prisoners access to such items. (Id. ¶ 23.)
Plaintiff asserts Defendants Liberty and Ross, alleged to be
the warden and deputy warden of security, are liable as
supervisors. (Id. ¶¶ 7c, 7d.) Plaintiff
further alleges that Defendants Fitzpatrick and Thornell have
supervisory liability because they are, respectively,
Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the Maine Department
of Corrections. (Id. ¶¶ 7a, 7b.)
asserts that Department of Corrections' policy
“requires [officers] to provide reasonable opportunity
for a prisoner to be decontaminated, by means of a shower and
clean change of clothing, following any direct exposure to
chemical agents.” (Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff
also alleges that the supervisory defendants nevertheless
tolerate or condone a practice in which prisoners are denied
the ability to decontaminate after exposure to pepper spray
because, based on information and belief, other prisoners
have had experiences similar to Plaintiff's experience.
(Id. ¶¶ 26 - 28.)
seeks to assert a class action on behalf of “all male
prisoners [at] MSP who were or will be exposed to chemical
agents and then deprived of meaningful opportunity to
decontaminate by means ...