United States District Court, D. Maine
RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER REVIEW OF PLAINTIFF'S
COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(E),
C. NIVISON U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
an inmate at the Cumberland County Jail, alleges Defendants
retaliated against him for his grievance activity and
postings on a social media account, and discriminated against
him based on race. (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 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 the complaint, I recommend the Court dismiss
Plaintiff's claims against certain of the named
defendants as discussed below.
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).
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).
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
addition to the Cumberland County Jail,  Plaintiff names
several individuals as defendants in his complaint: Officer
Wakefield, Sr. Moody, Lt. Moore, Detective Cheryl Holmes,
Major Kortes, Sr. Haskell, Captain Butts, and Lt. Jaguese.
alleges that Defendant Wakefield made racially offensive
statements to him. According to Plaintiff, when he asked for
a grievance form, Defendant Wakefield refused his request and
placed Plaintiff in lockdown for 48 hours. Plaintiff contends
that in retaliation for attempting to assert the grievance
and other grievances, he has been placed in segregation
multiple times, including by Defendant Moore. Plaintiff
asserts that Defendant Moody told him that if he continued to
report the “racial insults, ” he would be
segregated. Plaintiff alleges that he also was segregated by
Defendant Holmes for posting discovery materials to a social
media account. Plaintiff further asserts that he is a Black
Muslim American and that Defendant Jacques refused to permit
him to perform certain work (i.e., painting), and thus earn
good time credit, while several white inmates were permitted
to do so.
Court's jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims is based
on 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides a civil action to
any person deprived a federal right by a state
actor. In order to maintain a § 1983 action
against those who exercise state authority, Plaintiff must
assert a claim that describes a deprivation of a federal
right. Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 145 n.3
(1979) (explaining that section 1983 “is not itself a
source of substantive rights, but a method for vindicating
federal rights elsewhere conferred by those parts of the
United States Constitution and federal statutes that it
§ 1983 claims include a claim of retaliation for his
grievance activity, which is considered protected activity
for purposes of the First Amendment. Hannon v.
Beard, 645 F.3d 45, 48 (1st Cir. 2011). In addition,
Plaintiff asserts a retaliation claim in connection with his
social media posting, which also implicates his First
Amendment rights. Plaintiff's claim of racial
discrimination is assessed under the Equal Protection Clause
of the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits discrimination