United States District Court, D. Maine
RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER REVIEW OF PLAINTIFF'S
C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge.
a pretrial detainee at the York County Jail,  alleges that he
was charged with certain drug-related criminal offenses in
state court as the result of Defendants' unlawful
conduct. (Complaint, ECF No. 1.) The defendants are comprised
of law enforcement officers and their employers.
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 Plaintiff's complaint, I recommend the Court
dismiss Plaintiff's claims against Defendants City of
Saco, City of Biddeford, and Cumberland County. I also recommend
the Court stay further proceedings against Defendants Ryan
Hatch, Derek McDonald, Peter Mador, and Juliet Angis.
alleges he is being held in custody awaiting trial on state
court drug-related offenses. (Complaint at 8.) According to
Plaintiff, the law enforcement defendants violated his
constitutional rights in connection with the investigation of
the circumstances that resulted in the institution of
criminal charges against Plaintiff. Plaintiff has asserted no
independent basis for liability against the municipal
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 (“The Kennebec
County Jail is not a governmental entity or a proper party
defendant to this lawsuit. It is a building.”). 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).
of the merits of Plaintiff's claims against the
individual defendants, Plaintiff has not asserted an
actionable claim against Defendants City of Saco, City of
Biddeford, and Cumberland County. A municipality cannot be
vicariously liable for a constitutional deprivation simply
because the deprivation was caused by a municipal employee.
Welch v. Ciampa, 542 F.3d 927, 941 (1st Cir. 2008)
(citing Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S.
658, 691 (1978)). For a municipality to be liable for a
constitutional deprivation, the record must include evidence
that a municipal policy, custom, or practice caused the
deprivation. Id. The applicable standard requires a
plaintiff to “identify a municipal ‘policy'
or ‘custom' that caused the plaintiff's
injury.” Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs v. Brown, 520
U.S. 397, 403 (1997). Here, Plaintiff has not identified a
municipal policy or custom that resulted in the alleged
deprivation of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff,
therefore, cannot prevail on a claim against the municipal
seeks to recover money damages for conduct that is the
subject of ongoing state court criminal proceedings. As a
general rule, Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971),
mandates abstention from the exercise of jurisdiction when a
petitioner seeks relief in federal court from ongoing state
criminal proceedings. See Sprint Communications, Inc. v.
Jacobs, 571 U.S. 69, 78 (2013) (noting that
Younger “preclude[s] federal intrusion into
ongoing state criminal prosecutions”); In re
Justices of Superior Court Dept. of Mass. Trial Court,
218 F.3d 11, 16 (1st Cir. 2000) (“The federal courts
have long recognized the ‘fundamental policy against
federal interference with state criminal
proceedings.'” (quoting Younger, 401 U.S.
at 46)). While the Younger doctrine has ...