United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
Dennis Saylor IV, United States District Judge
a pro se prisoner civil rights action. Plaintiff,
Francis Arenella, is a former inmate housed at the North
Central Correctional Institute (“NCCI”). He
contends that while he was housed at NCCI, prison official
interfered with his mail and denied him the right to make
photocopies concerning legal matters. Defendants have filed
an unopposed motion for summary judgment. For the following
reasons, defendants' motion will be granted.
times relevant to the claims alleged in the amended
complaint, plaintiff Francis Arenella was an inmate housed at
NCCI in Gardner, Massachusetts. (Def. SMF ¶ 1).
Defendants are employees at the prison. Sheila Cregg is the
treasurer and Carolyn Murphy is the librarian. (Id.
SMF ¶ 3).
amended complaint alleges that between November 2013 and
March 2015, Arenella submitted out-going mail to the NCCI
mailroom, for which he was charged a fee. (Am. Compl. ¶
1-2). It alleges that on three separate occasions, mail he
sent went “missing.” (Id. ¶ 4). It
further alleges that Cregg's office refused to refund his
account for the missing mail. (Id. ¶ 5).
unopposed statements in defendants' statement of material
facts indicate that based on a review of the postal service
tracking record, two of the three “missing”
pieces of mail were actually received by the addressee. (Def.
SMF ¶ 7). As to the third piece of mail, Arenella
did not provide a tracking number when sending that piece as
required by prison policy, so there is no way to tell whether
it was delivered. (Id. ¶ 9).
amended complaint makes a separate allegation against Murphy
that she refused Arenella's requests to make photocopies
of certain materials concerning legal matters for attorneys.
(Compl. ¶¶ 7-9).
completed his criminal sentence and was released from custody
on November 10, 2016. (Id. ¶ 2).
Standard of Review
role of summary judgment is to “pierce the pleadings
and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a
genuine need for trial.” Mesnick v. General Elec.
Co., 950 F.2d 816, 822 (1st Cir. 1991) (quoting
Garside v. Osco Drug, Inc., 895 F.2d 46, 50 (1st
Cir. 1990)). Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving
party shows that “there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine issue is
“one that must be decided at trial because the
evidence, viewed in the light most flattering to the
nonmovant . . . would permit a rational fact finder to
resolve the issue in favor of either party.”
Medina-Munoz v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 896 F.2d
5, 8 (1st Cir. 1990) (citation omitted). In evaluating a
summary judgment motion, the court indulges all reasonable
inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. See
O'Connor v. Steeves, 994 F.2d 905, 907 (1st Cir.
1993). When “a properly supported motion for summary
judgment is made, the adverse party must set forth specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250
(1986) (quotations omitted). The non-moving party may not
simply “rest upon mere allegation or denials of his
pleading, ” but instead must “present affirmative
evidence.” Id. at 256-57.
the pro se amended complaint alleges that defendants
failed to reimburse plaintiff for the cost of sending mail
that was never received by the addressee. Based on the facts
in the record, no reasonable juror could find defendants
liable for the missing mail. The undisputed facts show that
two of the three pieces of mail that are at issue were
received by the addressee. Arenella has not provided the
Court with any evidence or reason to believe that the third
piece of mail was not received. Accordingly, the motion will
be granted as to the missing mail claim.
the amended complaint alleges that the prison's refusal
to provide plaintiff with attorneys' copies of material
concerning legal matters interfered with his constitutional
right of access to the courts. Despite the allegations in the
amended complaint, plaintiff has failed to produce any
evidence, in the form of an affidavit, a verified complaint,
or otherwise, that he was ever denied access to photocopies.
Even if the Court were to treat the pro se amended
complaint as a verified complaint, this claim would
nevertheless fail. In order to pursue an access-to-courts
claim, a plaintiff must demonstrate “actual
injury” by showing “that an actionable claim . .
. which he desired to bring has been lost or rejected, or
that the presentation of such a claim is currently being
prevented, because [the] capability of filing suit has not
been provided.” Lewis v.
518 U.S. 343, 356 (1996). Plaintiff has made no attempt to
show actual injury. Accordingly, the motion for summary