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Sergentakis v. Channell

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 23, 2017




         Defendant Dr. Shawn Channell has moved to dismiss pro se Plaintiff Kris Sergentakis's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to exhaust administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), and for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. (Docket #27). Sergentakis filed an opposition thereto. (Docket #29). These matters are now ripe for adjudication. In consideration of the foregoing submissions and for the reasons that follow, Defendant Channell's Motion to Dismiss (Docket #27) is GRANTED and Sergentakis's complaint is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.


         Sergentakis initiated this action by filing a complaint on June 28, 2016, (Docket #1), and was later granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Docket #5). On October 6 and November 17, 2016, Sergentakis filed what I construed as Motions for Entry of Default. (Docket #17 and #20). I denied both motions for failure to show proof of service as to any named Defendant. (Docket #24). On February 3, 2017, Defendant Channell individually filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's complaint. (See Docket #28 at 7). On February 27, 2017, Sergentakis filed an opposition to that motion. (Docket #29).


          The instant case stems from an alleged interaction between Sergentakis and Defendant Channell-a forensic psychologist at the Federal Medical Center in Devens, Massachusetts (“FMC Devens”)-during a psychological evaluation ordered by Judge Nelson Stephen Roman of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. (See Docket #1); United States v. Sergentakis, Docket No. 15-cr-00033-NSR (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 20, 2015) (S.D.N.Y. ECF No. 31). That evaluation was ordered to determine whether Sergentakis was competent to stand trial in connection with the criminal charges pending against Sergentakis for witness retaliation and cyberstalking. See United States v. Sergentakis, No. 15 Cr. 33(NSR), 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77719, at *1-7 (S.D.N.Y. June 15, 2015).

         Judge Nelson Stephen Roman first ordered Sergentakis to undergo a competency evaluation on August 18, 2015. United States v. Sergentakis, Docket No. 15-cr-00033-NSR (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 20, 2015) (S.D.N.Y. ECF No. 31). In October of 2015, that Court found Sergentakis to be suffering from delusional disorder, and therefore committed Sergentakis to the custody of the Attorney General of the United States for hospitalization to determine whether he could be restored to competency pursuant to 18 U.S.C § 4241(d). (S.D.N.Y. ECF No. 41).

         Sergentakis was eventually transferred to FMC Devens, where he met with Defendant Channell on April 7, 2016 in the office of Lisa Britton. (Docket #1 at 3). During that interaction, Sergentakis contends that Dr. Channell told him the following: “unless you plead guilty you will be civilly committed for 10 years. Unless you plead guilty we can forcibly medicate you with mind altering drugs. If you do not reveal privileged information regarding how you will defend yourself at trial I will be forced to report you incompetent.” (Docket #1 at 3). Sergentakis filed the instant complaint on June 28, 2016. (Docket #1). Thereafter, Sergentakis appears to have attempted to file various exhibits, which include various requests to staff and, notably, a Request for Administrative Remedy, dated July 22, 2016. (See Docket #10). Sergentakis also filed two motions for leave to admit exhibits, which I denied. (Docket #14).


         On a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court “must assume the truth of all well-plead[ed] facts and give the plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences therefrom.” Ruiz v. Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp., 496 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2007) (citing Rogan v. Menino, 175 F.3d 75, 77 (1st Cir. 1999)). Materials attached to a complaint, or incorporated by reference, are a part of the pleading itself, and the Court may consider them on a motion to dismiss. Trans-Spec Truck Serv. v. Caterpillar, 524 F.3d 315, 321 (1st Cir. 2008). To survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must state a claim that is plausible on its face. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). That is, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, . . . on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. at 555 (citations omitted). “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Dismissal is appropriate if plaintiff's well-pleaded facts do not “possess enough heft to show that plaintiff is entitled to relief.” Ruiz Rivera v. Pfizer Pharms., LLC, 521 F.3d 76, 84 (1st Cir. 2008) (quotations and alterations omitted). “[L]egal labels and conclusions, ” however, are to be “isolate[d] and ignore[d].” Schatz v. Republican State Leadership Committee, 669 F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012); cf. Haag v. United States, 736 F.3d 66, 69 (1st Cir. 2013) (“Although we view all well-pleaded facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, ‘the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.'”) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

         A court must apply “an even more liberal standard” where, as here, the plaintiff is proceeding pro se. Gibbs v. SLM Corp., 336 F.Supp.2d 1, 3 (D. Mass. 2004). To that end, “[p]ro se pleadings are construed liberally, to avoid inappropriately stringent rules and unnecessary dismissals.” Bourne v. Arruda, No. 10-cv-393-LM, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62332, at *8 (D.N.H. June 10, 2011). This is not to suggest, however, that pro se litigants are not held to any standard at all. See Solomon v. Khoury, No. 16-10176, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20670, at *9 (D. Mass. Feb. 13, 2017) (“While the ‘First Circuit holds a pro se litigant to a standard of pleading less stringent than that for lawyers . . . this cannot be taken to mean that pro se complaints are held to no standard at all.'”) (quoting Green v. Massachusetts, 108 F.R.D. 217, 218 (D. Mass. 1985)).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Defendant Channell contends that Sergentakis's complaint should be dismissed “first, because the plaintiff did not exhaust available administrative remedies before filing suit, as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); second, because as to Ms. Britton, the plaintiff has not alleged personal misconduct; and third, because as to Dr. Channell, Sergentakis has not alleged conduct giving rise to a constitutional deprivation.” (Docket #28 at 1).

         As a preliminary matter, I note that Defendant Channell has individually filed the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's complaint. (See Docket #28 at 7) (“Sergentakis has not yet served Ms. Britton, and the instant motion is filed solely by Dr. Channell.”). Because this motion is filed by Defendant Channell only, I find that he does not have standing to contest the sufficiency of the allegations relative to Lisa Britton, and therefore I do not consider those arguments. Notwithstanding, I nonetheless dismiss without prejudice any and all claims made against purported Defendant Britton. In my Order denying Plaintiff's Motions for Entry of Default on January 12, 2017, I gave Sergentakis an extension of time to serve the named Defendants and indicated that “[i]f service is not made on or before March 13, 2017, the action will be dismissed without prejudice as to each Defendant ...

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