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Hinote v. Jordan

United States District Court, D. Maine

August 15, 2019

VINCENT T. HINOTE, Plaintiff
v.
SCOTT JORDAN, et al., Defendants

          RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER REVIEW OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e), 1915A

          JOHN C. NIVISON U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          In this action, Plaintiff, an inmate in the Cumberland County Jail, alleges Defendants, members of the Cumberland County Sheriff's office, unlawfully disciplined him and otherwise violated his constitutional rights. (Complaint, ECF No. 1.)

         Plaintiff filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 5), which application the Court granted. (ECF No. 7.) 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).

         Following a review of the complaint, I recommend the Court dismiss Plaintiff's claims, except for Plaintiff's claim that he was denied adequate nutrition during his time in administrative segregation.

         Standard of Review

          When a party is proceeding in forma pauperis, “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.” 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 is currently 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).

         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). “The relevant question ... in assessing plausibility is not whether the complaint makes any particular factual allegations but, rather, whether ‘the complaint warrant[s] dismissal because it failed in toto to render plaintiffs' entitlement to relief plausible.'” Rodríguez-Reyes v. Molina- Rodríguez, 711 F.3d 49, 55 (1st Cir. 2013) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 569 n. 14). 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), the complaint may not consist entirely of “conclusory allegations that merely parrot the relevant legal standard, ” Young v. Wells Fargo, N.A., 717 F.3d 224, 231 (1st Cir. 2013). See also Ferranti v. Moran, 618 F.2d 888, 890 (1st Cir. 1980) (explaining that the liberal standard applied to the pleadings of pro se plaintiffs “is not to say that pro se plaintiffs are not required to plead basic facts sufficient to state a claim”).

         Background Facts [1]

         According to Plaintiff, when he was booked into the Cumberland County Jail on April 7, 2019, he informed Defendant Jordan that although he was being booked into the jail under the name “Jonathon Lee Hinote, ” he had legally changed his name to “Vincent T. Hinote” in August 2018. (Complaint at 3.) Plaintiff was then fingerprinted and held in lockdown until the FBI could confirm his identity. (Id.)

         Defendant Jordan subsequently charged Plaintiff with forgery and put Plaintiff in administrative segregation pending a hearing before the jail's disciplinary board. (Complaint at 4.) Plaintiff alleges that he was held in segregation for 15 days, and during that time was “denied access to the courts, law library, and made to eat food trays consisting of only one piece of bread and clear water.” (Id.) Plaintiff was found guilty by the disciplinary board and served 15 days in maximum security. Plaintiff contends that Defendant Joyce, the Sheriff of Cumberland County, oversaw and “rubberstamped” the violation of his rights. (Id.)

         Discussion

          In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that (1) Defendants retaliated against him for exercising his First Amendment rights; (2) he was unfairly disciplined; (3) he was denied adequate nutrition while in administrative segregation; and (4) he was denied access to the courts while in administrative segregation.

         1. First ...


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