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Britto v. Umass Correctional Health Care

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

February 26, 2018

JEFFREY BRITTO, Plaintiff,
v.
UMASS CORRECTIONAL HEALTH, MASSACHUSETTS PARTNERSHIP FOR CORRECTIONAL HEALTH, GERI CRISMAN-RONDEAU, JAMES FERRIARI, ELLEN KURTZ, THOMAS GROBLEWSKI, REBECCA LUBELCZYK, HERBERT DUNGO, MAUREEN ATKINS, STEPHANIE BYRON, DR. FRANKIE LNU, CASSANDRA WARTMAN, LAWRENCE CHURCHVILLE, LAWRENCE WEINER, STEPHANIE COLLINS, DYANA NICKL, AND CYNTHIA SUMNER, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          F. DENNIS SAYLOR IV UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant the motion to proceed in forma pauperis, deny without prejudice the motion for appointment of counsel, deny without prejudice the motion for discovery, and order the plaintiff to file an amended complaint within 28 days of the entry of this memorandum and order.

         I. Background

         On October 11, 2017, pro se prisoner plaintiff Jeffrey Britto filed a voluminous complaint against UMass Correctional Health, Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Health, Geri Crisman Rondeau, James Ferriari, Ellen Kurtz, Thomas Groblewski, MD, Rebecca Lubelczyk, Herbert Dungo, Maureen Atkins, Stephanie Byron, Dr. Frankie LNU, Cassandra Wartman, Lawrence Churchville, Lawrence Weiner, Stephanie Collins, Dyana Nickl, and Cynthia Sumner. The 35-page complaint is a chronological narrative covering twenty years of alleged inadequate medical treatment. Plaintiff asserts claims against all defendants together under the Eighth Amendment and for medical malpractice. Attached to the complaint are 98 pages of exhibits. Along with his complaint, plaintiff filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis, a motion for appointment of counsel, and a motion for discovery.

         II. Discussion

         A. Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis (and prisoner account statement) and finds that it is meritorious. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), the Court assesses an initial partial filing fee of $44.85. The remainder of the fee, $305.15, shall be collected in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

         B. Plaintiff's Motion for Appointment of Counsel

         Plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel will be denied without prejudice. The Court may request an attorney to represent plaintiff if it finds that (1) plaintiff is indigent and (2) exceptional circumstances exist such that the denial of counsel will result in a fundamental unfairness infringing on his due-process rights. DesRosiers v. Moran, 949 F.2d 15, 23 (1st Cir. 1991); 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(1). While the plaintiff is indigent, the motion for appointment is premature. The Court may consider appointment of counsel later in this litigation once the disputed issues have become clear.

         C. Plaintiff's Motion for Discovery

         Plaintiff's motion for discovery will be denied without prejudice as premature. To the extent the complaint (or amended version of it) survives screening, it will be served and the defendants will respond. Discovery will be permitted in due course as to any claims that survive that process.

         D. Preliminary Screening - Amendment of the Complaint

         Because plaintiff is a prisoner, his complaint is subject to screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915 (e)(2)(B) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. These statutes authorize a court to review prisoner complaints in civil actions in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity, or officers or employees of a governmental entity, and to dismiss the action regardless of whether or not the plaintiff has paid the filing fee, if the complaint lacks an arguable basis in law or fact, fails to state a claim, or seeks relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. In connection with this preliminary screening, plaintiff's pro se complaint is construed generously. Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Instituto de Educacion Universal Corp. v. U.S. Dept. of Education, 209 F.3d 18, 23 (1st Cir. 2000).

         The complaint fails to comply with rule Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a) requires that the complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and . . . a demand for the relief sought[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1)-(3). This statement must “‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, '” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). It must afford the defendants a “[‘]meaningful opportunity to mount a defense, ' ” Díaz-Rivera v. Rivera-Rodríguez, 377 F.3d 119, 123 (1st Cir. 2004) (quoting Rodríguez v. Doral Mortgage Corp., 57 F.3d 1168, 1172 (1st Cir. 1995)). Similarly, Rule 10 requires that a plaintiff must state its claims “in numbered ...


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