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McKenney v. Joyce

United States District Court, D. Maine

July 8, 2019

ROBERT MCKENNEY, Plaintiff
v.
SHERIFF KEVIN JOYCE, et al., Defendants

          RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER REVIEW OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

          JOHN C. NIVISON U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, an inmate at the Cumberland County Jail, filed a complaint in which he alleges that Defendants unlawfully denied him access to a pre-release program. (Complaint, ECF Nos. 1, 4.)

         Plaintiff filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF Nos. 2, 5), which application the Court granted. (ECF No. 6.) 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).

         Following a review of Plaintiff's complaint, I recommend the Court permit Plaintiff to proceed on a disability discrimination claim, but dismiss all other claims asserted by Plaintiff.

         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 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 ….” 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 [1]

         According to Plaintiff, he is eligible to participate in a pre-release program, which would evidently reduce the time Plaintiff would be physically incarcerated at the jail. Plaintiff, who was prescribed medication for a mental health condition, was told he needed to stop taking the medication in order to participate in the pre-release program. He stopped taking the medication and was cleared by a psychiatrist to participate in the program. Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Brady determined that he could not participate in the program at least until his mental stability was monitored for an unspecified period of time. Plaintiff advised Defendants Joyce and Gagnon, the Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff of Cumberland County, of Defendant Brady's decision, but they evidently took no action to reverse the decision. Plaintiff contends Defendants discriminated against him as the result of his need for treatment for a mental health issue.

         Plaintiff also alleges he attempted to file a grievance, but he was denied the opportunity. He asserts he was denied his due process right to file a grievance.

         Discussion

         A. ...


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