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Rodriguez v. Cabral

United States District Court, D. Rhode Island

February 26, 2018



          Lincoln D. Almond, United States Magistrate Judge

         Pending before the Court pursuant to (28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B)) is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint. (ECF Doc. No. 29). Pro se Plaintiff Juan Rodriguez, a prisoner at the Adult Correctional Institutions ("ACI"), has brought claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Ashbel T. Wall, Matthew Kettle, Jeffrey Aceto, Lieutenant Burt, Lieutenant Amaral and Investigator Cabral, all of whom are sued in their individual capacities and in their official capacities with the Rhode Island Department of Corrections ("Defendants"). Defendants move the Court to dismiss the First Amended Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and because it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons that follow, I recommend that the Motion to Dismiss be GRANTED.


         Plaintiff is an inmate at the ACI in Cranston, Rhode Island. His pro se First Amended Complaint, filed on August 11, 2017, alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. §1983, the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. In brief, Plaintiff was charged with several disciplinary infractions, received hearings and was found guilty and sentenced to periods in segregation. His claims stem from the proceedings and resulting punishment.

         Following Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff filed several Motions seeking additional time to file an Objection as well as paper copies of certain cases. (ECF Doc. Nos. 30, 33, 34, 36). On January 19, 2018, the Court Ordered Defendants to provide Plaintiff with copies of the requested cases and Ordered Plaintiff to file his response to the Motion to Dismiss on or before February 9, 2018. Defendants promptly filed a Declaration that they complied with the Court's Order. (ECF Doc. No. 38). To date, Plaintiff has not filed an Objection to the Motion to Dismiss or otherwise responded to the Court's Order. Thus, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is unopposed and could be granted on that basis. However, out of deference to Plaintiffs pro se status, the Court will also substantively address the arguments for dismissal made by Defendants.

         Standard of Review

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, see Neeron-Gaztambide v. Hernandez-Torres, 35 F.3d 25, 27 (1st Cir. 1994); taking all well-pleaded allegations as true and giving the plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences, see Arruda v. Sears. Roebuck & Co., 310 F.3d 13, 18 (1st Cir. 2002); Carreiro v. Rhodes Gill & Co., 68 F.3d 1443, 1446 (1st Cir. 1995). If under any theory the allegations are sufficient to state a cause of action in accordance with the law, the motion to dismiss must be denied. Vartanian v. Monsanto Co., 14 F.3d 697, 700 (1st Cir. 1994).

         While a plaintiff need not plead factual allegations in great detail, the allegations must be sufficiently precise to raise a right to relief beyond mere speculation. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) (abrogating the "no set of facts" rule of Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 44-45 (1957)). "The complaint must allege 'a plausible entitlement to relief in order to survive a motion to dismiss." Thomas v. Rhode Island, 542 F.3d 944, 948 (1st Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 559). See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 ("[w]hen there are well- pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief). The Court of Appeals has cautioned that the "plausibility" requirement is not akin to a "standard of likely success on the merits, " but instead, "the standard is plausibility assuming the pleaded facts to be true and read in a plaintiffs favor." Sepulveda-Villarini v. Dep't of Educ. of P.R., 628 F.3d 25, 30 (1st Cir. 2010).

         In considering a motion to dismiss a prisoner's claim that his constitutional rights have been violated, the court must be guided by the principle that, while "prison officials are to be accorded substantial deference in the way they run their prisons, this does not mean that we will rubber stamp or mechanically accept the judgments of prison administrators." Spratt v. R.I. Dep't of Corr., 482 F.3d 33, 40 (1st Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). In addition, this Court has liberally reviewed Plaintiffs allegations and legal claims since they have been put forth by a pro se litigant. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-521 (1972).


         The following facts are gleaned from Plaintiffs First Amended Complaint, and the Court assumes their veracity for purposes of the Motion to Dismiss. Defendants are correctional officers and prison administrators at the ACI, where Plaintiff is an inmate. Plaintiff was charged with a disciplinary infraction on May 10, 2015 for fighting with another inmate. (ECF Doc. No. 25-2 at p. 3.) On May 15, 2015, Plaintiff pled guilty and received a punishment of twenty-one days of solitary confinement and twenty-one days of loss of good-time credit. On May 15, 2015, Plaintiff also was charged with a disciplinary infraction for assault. Plaintiff asserts that charge also stemmed from his fight with the other inmate. On May 19, 2015, Plaintiff pled guilty to the assault charge. Id. at p. 4. Plaintiff received a punishment of eighty-nine days in punitive solitary confinement and eighty-nine days of loss of good-time credit for that infraction. Id. at p. 5.

         When Plaintiff was approaching the end of his term in solitary confinement, he wrote a letter to another inmate asking the inmate to alert his family that he had nearly completed his period of solitary confinement and also asking for the inmate to get him a toothbrush. Id. Plaintiff was questioned by Investigator Cabral about the letter and claimed he only sought the toothbrush to brush his teeth after the lengthy period of time in solitary confinement with just a smaller toothbrush. On July 17, 2015, Plaintiff was charged with a disciplinary infraction for "mayhem" regarding his attempt to obtain the toothbrush. Id. at p. 6. Plaintiff pled not guilty at the disciplinary hearing and was found guilty and sentenced to eighty-nine days of punitive solitary confinement and eighty-nine days loss of good-time credit. Id. at p. 7. Plaintiff appealed that decision, and his appeal was denied. Id.

         His Amended Complaint alleges a violation of the Due Process Clause and specifically claims that ACI policy violates a "permanent federal injunction." Id. at p. 12. He also claims the approximate fifteen months of time spent in punitive and administrative solitary confinement violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel ...

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