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Hammel v. Norfolk County D.A Office

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

July 27, 2018

JASON HAMMEL, Plaintiff,
v.
NORFOLK COUNTY D.A. OFFICE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ALLISON D. BURROUGHS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court (1) grants the plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis, (2) assesses plaintiff an obligation to make monthly payments towards the filing fee pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2), and (3) directs him to show cause in writing why this action should not be dismissed, or, in the alternative, to file an amended complaint.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 16, 2018, Jason Hammel (“plaintiff” or “Hammel”), now in custody at MCI Cedar Junction, filed his pro se complaint while in custody of the Norfolk County Sheriff. See Complaint (“Compl.”), Dkt. No. 1.

         Because the complaint was filed without payment of the filing fee, Hammel was granted additional time either to pay the fee or file a request to proceed in forma pauperis. See 06/25/2018 Procedural Order, Dkt. No. 5. Now before the Court are Hammel's Application to Proceed in District Court without Prepaying Fees or Costs and his prison account statement. See Dkt. Nos. 6, 7.

         The complaint consists of a preprinted complaint form (AO Pro Se 14) and 53 pages of documents with additional allegations and exhibits. See Compl. Plaintiffs complaint concerns events that occurred while Hammel was in the custody of the Norfolk County Sheriff and his claims are brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12132. Id. at ¶¶ II(B), IV(C). The complaint names the following twelve defendants: (1) the Norfolk County District Attorneys' Office; (2) ADA Danielle Piccarini; (3) ADA Lisa Beatty; (4) Sheriff Michael Bellotti; (5) Dr. Patricia Pickett; (6) Superintendent Gerard Horgan; (7) Assistant Deputy Superintendent Danielle Boomhower; (8) County of Norfolk; (9) Town of Stoughton, town manager; (10) Stoughton Police Department; (11) Stoughton District Court; and (12) Sandra Lee Hammel. Id. at ¶¶ I(B).

         As best as can be gleaned from the documents attached to plaintiffs complaint, Hammel seeks monetary damages due to the failure of the defendants to provide him “with adequate mental health counseling and medications.” See Dkt. No. 1-1, p. 8. Hammel was “on permanent disability for PTSD, Depression, and Anxiety and was in active treatment up until [his] arrest.” Id. In May 2016, Hammel arrived at the Norfolk County Correctional Center (“NCCC”) and since August 2017 has spent much of his time in administrative segregation or placed with a cellmate which was contraindicated by his mental health condition. Id. at p. 9. He complains of additional psychological injury and disciplinary sanctions due to a classification incident involving another inmate in December 2017. Id. at p. 6. Additionally, Hammel contends that despite his physical and mental disabilities, he was criminally prosecuted (1) without proper investigation of alleged false statements made by Sandra Lee Hammel; (2) despite the repeated omission of exculpatory evidence; and (3) without regard to the “real facts.” Id. at p. 5.

         II. IN FORMA PAUPERIS

         Upon review of Hammel's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court concludes that he is without income or assets to pay the $400.00 filing fee. The motion is therefore granted. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2), plaintiff is obligated to make monthly payments of 20 percent of the preceding month's income credited to his account until the statutory filing fee has been paid in full.

         III. SCREENING OF THE ACTION

         When a prisoner plaintiff seeks to file a complaint without prepayment of the filing fee, summonses do not issue until the Court reviews the complaint and determines that it satisfies the substantive requirements of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915, 1915A. These provisions authorize federal courts to dismiss a complaint if the claims therein lack an arguable basis in law or in fact, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id.

         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).

         A plaintiff's complaint need not provide an exhaustive factual account, only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(d)(1) imposes the additional pleading requirement that “[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1). “The purpose of a clear and distinct pleading is to give defendants fair notice of the claims and their basis as well as to provide an opportunity for a cogent answer and defense.” See Belanger v. BNY Mellon Asset Management, No. 15-cv-10198-ADB, 2015 WL 3407827 (D. Mass. May 27, 2015).

         In conducting this review of the complaint, a pro se plaintiff such as Hammel is entitled to a liberal reading of his allegations, even when such allegations are inartfully pled. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Rodi v. New Eng. Sch. of Law, 389 F.3d 5, 13 (1st Cir. 2004). A pro se litigant's obligation to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure includes the requirement that a complaint complies with the “short and plain statement” ...


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