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Morissette v. Superintendent of McI Cedar Junction

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 7, 2014

ALBERT MORISSETTE, Plaintiff,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT OF MCI CEDAR JUNCTION, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

DENISE J. CASPER, District Judge.

For the reasons set forth below, the Court: (1) directs the clerk to correct plaintiff's address on the court's docket; (2) reverses its order of February 3, 2014 denying plaintiff's Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis; (3) grants plaintiff's Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis; (4) directs dismissal of the complaint unless plaintiff files an amended complaint curing the pleading deficiencies noted below; and (5) orders that no summonses shall issue until further Order of the Court.

BACKGROUND

On February 3, 2014, plaintiff Albert Morissette, a Boston resident who had been incarcerated by the Massachusetts Department of Correction, filed a civil rights complaint against the Superintendent of MCI Cedar Junction and the Office of the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Correction. All events alleged in the complaint occurred while plaintiff was incarcerated at MCI Cedar Junction. With his complaint, plaintiff filed a Motion to proceed in forma pauperis.

The clerk entered plaintiff's address on the docket at a correctional institution despite the fact that the category sheet accompanying the complaint listed a mailing address in Boston. Because it appeared that plaintiff was still incarcerated, the Court denied without prejudice his Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis because it was not accompanied by a copy of his prison account statement. Unlike other civil litigants, prisoner plaintiffs are not entitled to a complete waiver of the filing fee, notwithstanding the grant of in forma pauperis status.

The clerk mailed copies of the Procedural Order to the prison treasurer as well as plaintiff at a prison address. Although the copy mailed to plaintiff was returned as undeliverable, the prison treasurer responded with a letter explaining that Mr. Morissette had been released on January 22, 2014. The letter included a copy of plaintiff's prison account statement for the period encompassing August 19, 2013 through February 19, 2014.

Because plaintiff was not incarcerated when the Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis was filed, the Court has reexamined that motion.

DISCUSSION

I. Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

Morissette filed his complaint and motion to proceed in forma pauperis less than two weeks after his release from prison. Because plaintiff was not incarcerated at the time of filing, a copy of his prison account statement was not required. Plaintiff's motion indicates that he had no source of income and owned no property. Based upon this financial record, the Court now grants the Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis and vacates its earlier order to the contrary.

II. Review

Because Morissette is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court will review his complaint to determine if it satisfies the substantive requirements of the federal in forma pauperis statute. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Section 1915 of title 28 authorizes federal courts to dismiss actions in which a plaintiff seeks to proceed without prepayment of fees if the action lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact, Neitzke v. Williams , 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989), or if the action fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); Denton v. Hernandez , 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992).

When examining the sufficiency of the pleadings, the court considers whether the plaintiff has pled "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). The court accepts as true the factual allegations of the complaint, draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff that are supported by the factual allegations, and determines whether the complaint, so read, sets forth a claim for recovery that is "plausible on its face." Eldredge v. Town of Falmouth , 662 F.3d 100, 104 (1st Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted)). A plaintiff's complaint need not provide an exhaustive factual account, only a short and plain statement. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). However, the allegations must be sufficient to identify the manner by which the defendant subjected the plaintiff to harm and the harm alleged must be one for which the law affords a remedy. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678. Legal conclusions couched as facts and "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action" will not suffice. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678. See also Ocasio-Hernandez v. Fortuno-Burset , 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011).

Finally, in screening plaintiff's complaint, the Court recognizes that pro se pleadings are construed generously. Haines v. Kerner , 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Rodi v. New Eng. Sch. of Law , 389 F.3d 5, 13 (1st Cir.2004). Even with this generous reading, ...


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