United States District Court, D. Maine
COLBY L. DOUCETTE, Plaintiff
AROOSTOOK COUNTY JAIL, et al., Defendants
RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER REVIEW OF PLAINTIFF'S
C. Nivison, U.S. Magistrate Judge
action, Plaintiff, an inmate at the Aroostook County Jail,
seeks to recover damages allegedly resulting from his
treatment while detained in the jail. (Complaint, ECF No. 1.)
Defendants consist of Aroostook County and evidently several
filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No.
2), which application the Court granted. (ECF No. 3.) 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).
review of Plaintiff's complaint in accordance with 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A, I recommend the Court
dismiss the matter.
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 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
(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).
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”).
alleges that he suffered harm as the result of certain
conditions that he experienced while he was incarcerated at
the Aroostook County Jail. “It is undisputed that the
treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions
under which [the prisoner] is confined are subject to
scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment.” Helling v.
McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993). “Undue
suffering, unrelated to any legitimate penological purpose,
is considered a form of punishment proscribed by the Eighth
Amendment.” Kosilek v. Spencer, 774 F.3d 63,
82 (1st Cir. 2014) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 103 (1976)). Under the Eighth Amendment, prison
conditions cannot be inhumane, but they need not be
comfortable. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832
(1970). Cruel and unusual punishment consists of the denial
of “the minimal civilized measure of life's
necessities” assessed based on “the contemporary
standard of decency.” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452
U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Plaintiff thus conceivably could assert
an actionable claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on the
conditions of his confinement.
extent Plaintiff asserts a § 1983 claim against an
individual defendant, however, Plaintiff's allegations
must support a finding that the individual, through his or
her individual actions, violated Plaintiff's
constitutional rights. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 676-77 (2009). In other words, each defendant is
entitled to an individualized assessment as to whether
Plaintiff has asserted an actionable claim against that
defendant. Although Plaintiff has included the individual
defendants in his complaint, he has not described the conduct
of any of the individual defendants. Plaintiff, therefore,
has not asserted an actionable claim against any of the
individuals named as a defendant.
Plaintiff's claim against Aroostook County, because a
municipality or county is not automatically liable for a
constitutional deprivation that arises from the conduct of
entity's employees, Plaintiff must demonstrate that the
municipality or county itself bears responsibility for the
constitutional deprivation. Rodriguez-Garcia, 610
F.3d at 769 (citing Monell v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978)). “[L]iability
attaches to a municipality under § 1983 ‘only if
the violation occurs pursuant to an official policy or
custom.'” Id. (quoting Welch v.
Ciampa,542 F.3d 927, 941 (1st Cir. 2008)). Here,
Plaintiff has not ...