FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MAINE HON. GEORGE Z. SINGAL, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
A. R. Willey and Willey Law Offices on brief for appellant.
M. Frey, Attorney General of Maine, James E. Fortin and
Christopher C. Taub, Assistant Attorneys General, on brief
Howard, Chief Judge, Torruella and Selya, Circuit Judges.
district court dismissed a complaint filed by
plaintiff-appellant Bridget Parker against (as relevant here)
three Maine prison officials, determining that the complaint
did not state a plausible claim. The plaintiff sought leave
to amend, but the district court denied her motion. The court
ruled that the proposed amended complaint was futile because
it failed to state any plausible claims against the three
officials. The plaintiff appeals. Concluding that the court
below appropriately evaluated the proposed amended complaint
and appropriately denied leave to amend, we affirm.
rehearse the relevant facts as set out in the proposed
amended complaint, assuming them to be true unless merely
conclusory. See D'Agostino v. ev3, Inc., 845
F.3d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 2016). At the times material hereto, the
plaintiff was incarcerated at the Southern Maine Reentry
Center (SMRC), a minimum-security facility operated under the
aegis of the Maine Correctional Center (MCC) and the Maine
State Prison (MSP) by the Maine Department of Corrections
(DOC). On occasion, the SMRC allows inmates to participate in
outside work-study programs.
in custody, the plaintiff experienced several instances of
unwanted sexual contact with a correctional officer, Joshua
Dall-Leighton. Shortly after the plaintiff's arrival at
the SMRC in September of 2014, she became the target of
sexualized comments from Dall-Leighton, who was tasked with
driving her to and from her employment and educational
courses. Dall-Leighton also used his position of authority
and his physical control over the plaintiff to initiate
multiple sexual encounters with her, beginning in December of
2015. Notwithstanding the plaintiff's repeated attempts
to end their carnal encounters, Dall-Leighton persisted in
plaintiff felt unable to reject Dall-Leighton's sexual
advances due to both fear of adverse consequences and the
power dynamic inherent in the situation. She nonetheless
disclosed his misconduct to another correctional officer,
Renee Shanks. The latter tried to help the plaintiff limit
her interactions with Dall-Leighton but did not report his
misconduct to her superiors. In conversations with the
plaintiff, Shanks appeared sympathetic to Dall-Leighton,
distinguishing him from another correctional officer who
reportedly had been fired for "preying" on female
inmates at the SMRC.
March of 2016, the plaintiff deliberately violated the
SMRC's alcohol policy to secure a transfer to a different
prison facility (where she would not have any contact with
Dall-Leighton). In the new facility, the plaintiff told her
story to a fellow inmate, who reported the abuse. This report
triggered an investigation and resulted in
Dall-Leighton's indictment and dismissal.
14, 2017, the plaintiff repaired to the United States
District Court for the District of Maine and sued the warden
of the MCC (Scott Landry), a former warden of the MSP
(Randall Liberty), and the former commissioner of the DOC
(Dr. Joseph Fitzpatrick), whom we shall collectively call
"the defendants."With respect to the defendants,
the complaint alleged federal constitutional violations, a
civil rights conspiracy, and supplementary state-law claims.
defendants answered the complaint and moved to dismiss.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The district court
treated the motion as a motion for judgment on the pleadings.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c); see also Aponte-Torres
v. Univ. of P.R., 445 F.3d 50, 54 (1st Cir. 2006)
("Because the defendants previously had answered the
amended complaint, the district court appropriately treated
their motion to dismiss as one for judgment on the
pleadings."). The court proceeded to grant the motion
concluding that the plaintiff had not alleged facts
sufficient to state any plausible claims against the
defendants. See Parker v. Dall-Leighton, No.
2:17-CV-216, 2017 WL 6210892, at *7 (D. Me. Dec. 8, 2017).
plaintiff moved for reconsideration and for leave to amend.
At the district court's request, she tendered a proposed
amended complaint in which she purposed to fill the gaps that
had doomed her original complaint. The district court denied
both motions, holding in an unpublished order that allowing
the motion to amend would be futile because the proposed
amended complaint failed to state any plausible claims for
relief. After some further proceedings, not pertinent here,
the district court entered a final judgment in favor of the
defendants. This timely appeal followed.
review the district court's disposition of a motion to
amend a complaint for abuse of discretion. See Hatch v.
Dep't for Children, Youth & Their Families, 274
F.3d 12, 19 (1st Cir. 2001). In most cases - the exceptions
are not relevant here - we gauge the court's use of its
discretion in keeping with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
15(a)(2), which directs that leave to amend a complaint
"shall be freely given when justice so requires."
Consequently, we will affirm the denial of a motion to amend
"so long as the record evinces an arguably adequate
basis for ...