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Linton v. O'Brien

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

November 3, 2015

DAMION LINTON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROL H O'BRIEN, COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION, JAMES J. SABA, SUPERINTENDENT, OF MCI CEDAR JUNCTION WALPOLE, NELSON JULIUS, DEPUTY OF OPERATION OF MCI CEDAR JUNCTION WALPOLE, MARC DUBOIS, MCI CEDAR JUNCTION GRIEVANCE COORDINATOR, ELENA CLODIUS, DIRECTOR OF DEPARTMENT DISCIPLINARY UNIT, Defendants

          Damion Linton, Plaintiff, Pro se, South Walpole, MA.

         For James J. Saba, Superintendent of MCI Cedar Junction Walpole, Nelson Julius, Deputy of Operation of MCI Cedar Junction Walpole, Marc Dubois, MCI Cedar Junction Grievance Coordinator, Elena Clodius, Director of Department Disciplinary Unit, Carol H O'Brien, Commissioner of Corrections, Defendants: Sheryl F. Grant, LEAD ATTORNEY, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Correction, Boston, MA.

Page 216

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

         ALLISON D. BURROUGHS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Damion Linton, an inmate at MCI -- Cedar Junction, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (" § 1983" ), alleging that prison personnel have violated his civil rights by not providing rehabilitative educational programs that award good time credits. His complaint asserts that the defendants' failure to provide such programs is a violation of the Due Process Clause, Equal Protection Clause, and Eighth Amendment. [ECF No. 1.]

         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Complaint [ECF No. 18], which moves to dismiss the entire complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the foregoing reasons, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Complaint is GRANTED.

Page 217

         I. BACKGROUND

         Linton is currently an inmate in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (" DOC" ) and, at relevant times, was housed within the Department Disciplinary Unit (" DDU" )[1] of MCI -- Cedar Junction. [ECF No. 1, Exh. B.] In February 2015 Linton filed a grievance with the DOC, stating that he was unable to participate in educational rehabilitative programs and therefore earn good time credits to reduce his sentence. Id. Linton complained that the DDU orientation manual listed numerous educational rehabilitative programs that were either not being offered or were being offered, but without the opportunity to earn good time credits. Id. Linton's grievance was denied, as was his appeal. [ECF No. 1, Exhs. B & C.] The superintendent's decision on Linton's appeal stated that because he had been placed in the DDU, Linton could only earn time off of his DDU sanction and not good time off of his sentence. [ECF No. 1, Exh. C.] On April 28, 2015, after exhausting the grievance process, Linton initiated this action. [ECF No. 1.]

         In his complaint, Linton states that due to the policies and procedures of the defendants, he has been denied access to proper rehabilitative educational programs and, as a result, is unable to earn good time credits. Id. ¶ ¶ 8, 15. Linton filed affidavits from five inmates in the DDU, who also complain that there are not programs through which they can earn good time credits. [ECF Nos. 4-8.] In support of his complaint, which alleges Due Process, Equal Protection, and Eighth Amendment violations under § 1983, Linton attaches the DDU Manual and cites several Massachusetts DOC Regulations. [ECF No. 1, ¶ 10 (citing 103 CMR § § 411.04, 411.09(1)(b), 411.08(2)) & Exh. A] The DDU Manual states that " [i]nmates may participate in such educational and/or rehabilitative programs as can be provided within the confines of the DDU, consistent with the safety and security needs of the unit." Id. The Massachusetts DOC Regulations Linton cites establish the standards for awarding good time credits. See e.g., 103 CMR 411.09(1)(b) (" [A]n inmate may receive deductions from sentence only for participation in those approved programs and activities." ).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and draws all reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of the plaintiff. United States ex rel. Hutcheson v. Blackstone Med., Inc., 647 F.3d 377, 384 (1st Cir. 2011). Although detailed factual allegations are not required to survive a motion to dismiss, " more than labels and conclusions" are required. Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). Where, as here, the complaint is filed pro se, the pleading must be " liberally construed" and " held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007).

         Section 1983 is " not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred." Graha ...


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