United States District Court, D. Maine
RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER REVIEW OF COMPLAINTS
PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(E), 1915A
these two related actions, Plaintiff alleges he was assaulted
by corrections officers while he was incarcerated at the
Penobscot County Jail. He also asserts that medical personnel
were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. On
October 24, 2018, Plaintiff filed a complaint against the
officers and the jail administration (18-cv-00449, ECF No.
1), and a separate complaint against the medical staff at the
jail. (18-cv-00450, ECF No. 1.)Plaintiff filed
applications to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2), which
applications the Court granted. (ECF No. 4.) In accordance
with the in forma pauperis statute, a preliminary review of
Plaintiff's complaints is appropriate. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2). Additionally, Plaintiff's complaints are
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 complaints, I recommend that
unless Plaintiff amends the complaints to assert facts that
would support an actionable claim, the Court dismiss
Plaintiff's complaints 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 complaints are subject to a review 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 review 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.” 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 he was assaulted on July 26, 2014, while he was
incarcerated at the Penobscot County Jail. (18-cv-00449 ECF
No. 1-1, 1-3.) Plaintiff claims the assault constitutes
“excessive force” and “torture” by
Corrections Officers Wintle and Norwood, defendants in
1:18-cv-449-JAW, in violation of the Eighth Amendment
prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
(18-cv-00449 ECF No. 1-1, 1-3, 1-4.)
also alleges that a number of other individuals acted with
deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's constitutional
rights. According to Plaintiff, Sergeant John Nutall, a
defendant in 1:18-cv-449-JAW, demonstrated deliberate
indifference when he failed to provide relief from
Plaintiff's assailants and in fact sent Defendants Wintle
and Norwood with Plaintiff to the hospital. (18-cv-00449 ECF
No. 1-2.) Plaintiff further alleges Defendant Nutall
otherwise failed to report properly the events and follow
jail protocols for incidents involving bodily injury.
(Id.) Lieutenant Golden also allegedly failed to
report properly the events and follow jail protocol for
incidents resulting in bodily injury and failed to provide
Plaintiff a safe environment in which to discuss the assault.
(18-cv-00449 ECF No. 1-5.) Plaintiff further alleges that the
jail's medical providers failed to report properly the
events and follow protocol for incidents resulting in bodily
injury. (18-cv-00450 ECF No. 1 at 4.) Plaintiff alleges that
on January 2, 2018, after an attorney-client meeting at
Penobscot County Jail, Defendant Norwood threatened
Plaintiff. (Id. at 2.)
federal civil rights statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, permits
a plaintiff to file an action in federal court against any
person who has acted under color of state law to deprive the
plaintiff of a federal right. Estades-Negroni v. CPC
Hosp. San Juan Capestrano, 412 F.3d 1, 4 (1st Cir.
2005). The defendants identified in Plaintiff's
complaints qualify as state actors subject to suit under
section 1983. The issue is whether Plaintiff has alleged
sufficient facts to state an actionable claim for the
deprivation of a federal right.
The Eighth Amendment Claims
Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which
applies to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibits
excessive bail, excessive fines, and the infliction of cruel
and unusual punishments. U.S. Const. amend. VIII. A
punishment is cruel and unusual if it involves the
unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain. Gregg v.
Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 173 (1976). The question whether
a particular use of force “inflicted unnecessary and
wanton pain and suffering ultimately turns on whether force
was applied in a good faith effort to maintain or restore