STILE v. CUMBERLAND COUNTY SHERIFF et al
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS AND MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT dismissing 204 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings; granting in part and denying in part 204 Motion for Summary Judgment By JUDGE JOHN A. WOODCOCK, JR. (CCS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MAINE
SHERIFF, et al.,
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE
PLEADINGS AND MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
James Stile has asserted various constitutional violations and state tort claims
against the Defendants. Except for one claim against three individual Defendants,
Mr. Stile failed to create a genuine issue of material fact and therefore the Court
denies in part and grants in part Defendants’ motions for summary judgment.
On October 14, 2014, Mr. Stile filed a civil complaint against Cumberland
County, the Cumberland County Sheriff, and twenty Cumberland County corrections
officers pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the Defendants violated his
constitutional rights while he was a pretrial detainee. Compl. (ECF No. 1). Since
then, Mr. Stile filed a number of unorthodox filings, which has complicated this case. 1
A number of motions and objections to various orders extended the life of this case to nearly
four years. See Order on Def. Darling (ECF No. 31) (Darling Order) (providing a procedural overview
from October 2014 to April 2015); Order Denying Mot. to Stay (ECF No. 171) (providing a procedural
overview from February 2016 to August 2016); Order on Obj. to Order on Mot. for Sanctions (ECF No.
181) (providing a procedural overview from December 2015 to February 2017). Given Defendants’
On September 28, 2017, Mr. Stile filed a motion to stay of proceedings as
concerns motions for summary judgment in both this case and another case before
this Court, 1-13-cv-00248-JAW.
Mot. to Stay Proceedings as Concerns Mots. for
Summ. J. at 1 (ECF No. 201 – 2:14-cv-00406-JAW); (ECF No. 450 – 1-13-cv-00248JAW) (Mot. to Stay). On October 17, 2017, Defendants filed a response in opposition
to his motion to stay. Resp. in Opp’n to Mot. to Stay Proceedings as Concerns Mots.
for Summ. J. (ECF No. 207) (Opp’n to Mot. to Stay). On November 11, 2017, the Court
denied Mr. Stile’s motion to stay. Order (ECF No. 211).
On October 3, 2017, Defendants requested leave to file a memorandum of law
in excess of page limit set forth in Local Rule 7(e). Defs.’ Mot. for Leave to File Mem.
of Law in Excess of Page Limits (ECF No. 202) (Mot. for Leave.) The Court granted
Defendants’ motion the same day.
Order (ECF No. 203). On October 6, 2017,
Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings and motion for summary
judgment together with a statement of material facts. Mot. for J. on Pleadings and
Mot. for Summ. J. (ECF No. 204) (Defs.’ Mots.); Defs.’ Statement of Material Facts
(ECF No. 205) (DSMF).
Mr. Stile’s responses were initially due by October 27, 2017; however, on
February 15, 2018, the Magistrate Judge allowed an extension until March 23, 2018,
for Mr. Stile’s to file his response to Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings
and motion for summary judgment. Procedural Order at 1 (ECF No. 221). On March
5, 2018, Mr. Stile moved to extend time to respond to Defendants’ motions alongside
pending motion for judgment on the pleadings and motion for summary judgment, the Court will only
focus on the procedural history relevant to these motions.
various other motions. Mot. for Extension of Time to Resp. to Summ. J. Mot. and for
Court to Issue Writ to the United States Marshals Serv./U.S. Att’y General for
Transfer of Pl. to Danbury Conn. F.C.I. (ECF No. 223). On May 29, 2018, the
Magistrate Judge extended Mr. Stile’s response deadline to June 15, 2018 but denied
his motion in all other respects. Order Granting Pl.’s Mots. for Order Regarding Disc.,
to Extend Time to File Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J., and for Transfer (ECF No. 231).
Mr. Stile objected to the Magistrate Judge’s Order on June 11, 2018, and the
Defendants responded on June 22, 2018. Pl.’s Obj. to Magistrate’s Order as Concerns
Pl.’s Mots. for Order Regarding Disc., to Extend Time to File Resp. to Mot. for Summ.
J., and for Transfer (ECF No. 235); Defs.’ Resp. to Pl.’s Obj. to Magistrate’s Decision
(ECF No. 237). The Court overruled Mr. Stile’s objection on July 13, 2018. Order on
Objection to Order on Mot. to Extend Time (ECF No. 241). In doing so, the Court
stated, “that it will immediately begin . . . reviewing the Defendants’ dispositive
motions . . . . If Mr. Stile is able to file a response to those motions before the Court
issues the order, the Court will consider his responses and will allow the Defendants
fourteen days to reply . . . .” Id. at 6-7. 2
Subsequently, Mr. Stile filed a motion for judicial intervention and a motion to extend time for
filing remaining responses and supplements. Mot. for Judicial Intervention and Mot. to Extend Time
for Filing Remaining Resps. and Supps. (ECF No. 242). On July 17, 2018, Mr. Stile filed an affidavit
with eight attachments in support of his motion for judicial intervention and a motion to extend time
for filing remaining responses and supplements. Aff. (ECF No. 243) (Pl.’s Aff. 1). Defendants
responded on August 1, 2018. Resp. in Opp’n for Mot. for Judicial Intervention and Mot. to Extend
Time for Filing Remaining Resps. and Supps. (ECF No. 244). On August 27, 2018, Mr. Stile filed
another affidavit with ten exhibits in support of his motion for judicial intervention and a motion to
extend time for filing remaining responses and supplements. Aff. (ECF No. 246) (Pl.’s Aff. 2). The
Court denied Mr. Stile’s motion on September 4, 2018. Order on Mot. for Judicial Intervention and for
Extension of Time and on Mot. to Accept Partial Resps. and to Allow the R. to Remain Open, and Mot.
for Ct. to obtain Bate Stamped Materials from DEF.S that Pl. Cited in His Resps. to Dispositive
Pleadings (ECF No. 248).
Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment 3
A court may grant summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56 if the record demonstrates that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). “A
fact is material when it has potential of changing a case's outcome.” Doe v. Trustees
of Boston Coll., 892 F.3d 67, 79 (1st Cir. 2018). There is a genuine dispute “when the
evidence about the fact is such that a reasonable jury could resolve the point in favor
of the nonmoving party.” Id. (internal quotations omitted) (quoting Rivera-Muriente
v. Agosto-Alicea, 959 F.2d 349, 352 (1st Cir. 1992)). If the Court finds that “there is
a genuine dispute of a material fact, that dispute would need to be resolved by a trier
of fact.” Id. (alteration in original) (quoting Kelley v. LaForce, 288 F.3d 1, 9 (1st Cir.
The Court must examine the record evidence “in the light most favorable to
[the nonmovant], and [must draw] all reasonable inferences in . . . favor [of the
As the First Circuit has noted, “the fate of [a motion for judgment on the pleadings] will
depend upon whether the pleadings, taken as a whole, reveal any potential dispute about one or
more of the material facts.” Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Co., v. Reder, 355 F.3d 35, 38 (1st Cir. 2004)
(citing 5 CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT & ARTHUR R. MILLER, FED. PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE
§ 1367, at 509-10 (2d ed. 1995)). Here, Mr. Stile and the Defendants have disputed most of the
essential facts set forth in the Complaint. Accordingly, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(d), the Court treated the motion for judgment on the pleadings as a motion for summary
judgment. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d) (“If, on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, matters outside the
pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion shall be treated as one for
summary judgment and disposed of as provided in Rule 56.”).
Whether technically the Court is ruling on the motion for judgment on the pleadings
converted into a motion for summary judgment or on the motion for summary judgment itself is
academic. To clarify the record, the Court is dismissing without prejudice the motion for judgment
on the pleadings and has grounded its disposition on the pending motion for summary judgment.
nonmoving party].” Foley v. Town of Randolf, 598 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2010). But a
movant may “demonstrate an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's
case.” Murray v. Warren Pumps, LLC, 821 F.3d 77, 83 (1st Cir. 2016) (internal
quotations omitted) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986)). The
nonmovant, in turn, “must adduce specific facts showing that a trier of fact
reasonably could find in his favor.” Id. (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986)).
Local Rule 56 of the District of Maine
A pro se litigant is not “absolved from compliance with the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure.” F.D.I.C. v. Anchor Props., 13 F.3d 27, 31 (1st Cir. 1994) (quoting
United States v. Heller, 957 F.2d 26, 31 (1st Cir. 1992)). A pro se litigant must also
comply with a district court's procedural rules.” See Ruiz Rivera v. Riley, 209 F.3d 24,
27 –28 & n.2 (1st Cir. 2000). District of Maine Local Rule 56(c) provides, in relevant
part, that a party opposing a motion for summary judgment shall submit its own
statement of material facts in which it admits, denies, or qualifies the movant’s
statement of material facts, and section (f) states that facts shall be deemed admitted
if not properly controverted. A non-movant’s failure to properly respond with his or
her own opposing statement of material facts deems movant’s statement of material
facts, if properly supported by references to the summary judgment record, as
admitted. See Lawson v. Campbell, No. CIV. 09-226-P-H, 2010 WL 2803372, at *1
(D. Me. July 15, 2010) (citing Cosme–Rosado v. Serrano–Rodriguez, 360 F.3d 42, 45
(1st Cir. 2004)). However, a non-movant’s failure “to respond does not automatically
entitle the movant to summary judgment.” Jackson v. Town of Waldoboro, 751 F.
Supp. 2d 263, 265 (D. Me. 2010) (citing Torres–Rosado v. Rotger–Sabat, 335 F.3d 1,
8-9 (1st Cir. 2003)).
The movant must show that it has “met its burden to
demonstrate undisputed facts entitling it to summary judgment as a matter of law.”
Cordero-Soto v. Island Fin., Inc., 418 F.3d 114, 118 (1st Cir. 2005) (quoting Lopez v.
Corporación Azucarera de P.R., 938 F.2d 1510, 1516 (1st Cir. 1991)).
At the summary judgment stage, a verified complaint is treated as an affidavit
equivalent. Sheinkopf v. Stone, 927 F.2d 1259, 1262 (1st Cir. 1991); Demmons v.
Tritch, 484 F. Supp. 2d 177, 182 (D. Me. 2007). This District has generally considered
prisoner affidavits even if they are noncompliant with Local Rule 56. See e.g., Clarke
v. Blais, 473 F. Supp. 2d 124 (D. Me. 2007). Mr. Stile’s Complaint in this case is
notarized and contains only the words “sworn to before me” above the notary’s stamp.
The Court considers this sufficient under the standard of a verified complaint and
thus, treats it as an affidavit equivalent. Nevertheless, the Court will consider only
specific facts outlined in Mr. Stile’s Complaint, not conclusory allegations that do not
make a factual showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Sheinkopf, 927 F.2d
at 1262; Sullivan v. City of Springfield, 561 F.3d 7, 24 (1st Cir. 2009) (citation
omitted) (Courts will “ignore conclusory allegations, improbable inferences, and
unsupported speculation”); Perry v. Ryan, No. 90–1826, 1991 U.S. App. LEXIS 7098,
at *7 (1st Cir. Apr. 3, 1991) (discussing Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e)).
STATEMENT OF FACTS 4
The Court views Mr. Stile’s verified Complaint in the light most favorable to his theory of the
case consistent with the record. Gillen v. Fallon Ambulance Serv., Inc., 283 F.3d 11, 17 (1st Cir. 2002).
On October 30, 2015, Mr. Stile pleaded guilty to a robbery charge and was
sentenced on May 29, 2015. DSMF ¶ 4. 5 Before pleading guilty, Mr. Stile was a
pretrial inmate incarcerated at the Cumberland County Jail beginning February 1,
2012. Id. ¶ 1; Pl.’s Compl. ¶ 3. 6 Mr. Stile remained at the Cumberland County Jail,
with the exception of a few days when he was transported to Penobscot County and
Somerset County, until January 15, 2013. DSMF ¶¶ 2, 3; Compl. ¶ 3. The individual
Defendants are all employed by Cumberland County Jail. 7 Compl. ¶¶ 4, 5, 8; Answer
¶¶ 4, 8. Defendant Joyce has the overall responsibility for the running of Cumberland
County Jail and its corrections officers. Compl. ¶ 8; DMSF Att. 24, Aff. of Kevin Joyce
Disciplinary Hearings at Cumberland County Jail
On November 21, 2012, Corrections Officers Bryan Leblanc, Christopher
The Court recites certain events as facts even though the Defendants’ statement of material facts
conflicts with Mr. Stile’s version of these events.
Mr. Stile filed two Affidavits in this case. Aff. Attachs. 1-8 (ECF No. 243) (Pl.’s Aff. I); Aff.
Attachs. 1-15 (ECF No. 246) (Pl.’s Aff. II). However, the Court has not included them for two reasons.
First, Mr. Stile filed Plaintiff’s Affidavit I in this case and in his suit against Somerset County,1-13cv-00248-JAW (ECF No. 569). As regards the Cumberland County case, Mr. Stile’s affidavit relates
only to his repeated contention that he was unable to prepare adequate responses to the motions.
There are no facts alleged in the Affidavit that relate to the merits of the pending dispositive motions.
In the second Affidavit, Mr. Stile admits that he has not complied a response to the Defendants’
motions in this case, and the remaining attachments refer to his motion for a temporary restraining
order against the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Pl.’s Aff. II at 1-17.
United States v. Stile, No. 1:11-CR-00185-JAW, (ECF Nos. 543 and 579).
The parties have a slight disagreement about when Mr. Stile was first incarcerated at
Cumberland County. The Defendants state that his incarceration began January 31, 2012. DMSF ¶
1. As the Court is required to view the facts in the light most favorable to Mr. Stile, it has used the
February 1, 2012, date as his first day of incarceration at Cumberland County Jail.
The parties did not identify themselves in the statements of material fact and to provide
context, the Court referred to the allegations in the Complaint and contents of the Answer to provide
some background information about the Mr. Stile and the Cumberland County Defendants.
Bisson and Lieutenant George Panenka 8 were part of a disciplinary board that
conducted five disciplinary hearings concerning Mr. Stile. Compl. ¶¶ 6, 14; DSMF ¶
5. 9 Even though he demonstrated a desire to attend the hearing, Mr. Stile was denied
the right to attend. 10 Compl. ¶ 14.
Cumberland County Jail’s Policies for Disciplinary
The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Division Policy and
Procedure Manual contains the official policies and procedures of the Cumberland
County Jail. DSMF ¶ 105. Staff is required to review and to be knowledgeable and
conversant with the policies in the manual. Id. Cumberland County Jail Policies and
Procedures D-101 entitled “Categories of Inmate Classification Assignments,” D-130
entitled “Inmate Reclassification Procedures,” D-131 entitled “Appeal of Inmate
Classification Assignments,” D-243 “Special Management Inmates,“ F-200 entitled
“Inmate Discipline,” F-340 entitled “Library Services,” and F-140 “Inmate Telephone
System,“ are some of the official policies and procedures of the Cumberland County
Jail regarding inmate services and rights in effect on the date of the incidents in this
lawsuit. Id. ¶ 106. Policy F-200 sets forth inmates’ procedural due process rights in
disciplinary hearings, which provides, among other things, for the right to:
A. Receive written notice of the alleged violation(s) within 24 hours of
Given the number of Defendants and differing job titles in this case, when introducing an
individual defendant, the Court provides the full name and job title, and thereafter, refers to them as
Defendant(s) with their last name.
Sergeant Ralph Dubois was not present at these hearings and did not decide whether Mr. Stile
was permitted to be present, whether any witnesses would be called, what evidence would be reviewed,
and was not responsible for imposing any discipline on Mr. Stile. DSMF ¶¶ 6-7.
Defendants assert that Mr. Stile was excluded from the hearings because he trashed his cell,
which constituted a security threat, and refused to exit his cell. DSMF ¶ 8. As the Court is required
to view the facts in the light most favorable to Mr. Stile, it accepts his version of these facts.
completing the report.
B. The right to a fair and impartial hearing.
C. The right to be represented by a fellow inmate and/or staff member
upon request . . . .
E. The right to be present at the hearing unless waived by the accused
inmate in writing, this right or his/her behavior justifies his/her
absence or removal.
F. The right to enter a statement of their version of the alleged
G. The right to call witnesses to the incident and other relevant
witnesses and present evidence . . . .
Id. ¶ 111.
The first hearing concerned charges against Mr. Stile based on minor
violations 11, 12, and 21 and a major violation B-21. Compl. ¶ 16; DSMF ¶ 9. On
November 15, 2012, Mr. Stile flushed newspaper and styrofoam food trays down his
toilet which caused the toilet water to back up and required maintenance to unclog
the toilet. DSMF ¶ 10. On the same day, corrections officer Keith Logan gave Mr.
Stile notice that this incident had been referred to the Disciplinary Board along with
a copy of the incident report and a copy of the Disciplinary Board Cover Sheet, which
advised him of his procedural rights at the hearing. Id. ¶ 11. On November 16, 2012,
Correctional Officer Sampson and Defendant Dubois conducted a prehearing review
with Mr. Stile about the incident. Id. ¶ 12. Mr. Stile stated that flushing his tray
was a form of protest because corrections officers had threatened to mess with his
food. Id. Mr. Stile was advised that the disciplinary board hearing would be on
November 21, 2012, and he stated that he did not plan to call any witnesses. Id.
Ultimately, Mr. Stile was found guilty and was given seven days disciplinary
segregation as a sanction. Id. ¶ 13.
The second hearing concerned charges against Mr. Stile based on an incident
on November 15, 2012, a major violation B-21. Id. ¶ 14. Mr. Stile was accused of
throwing his inhaler on the floor and stomping on it until it was in pieces. Id. On
November 15, 2012, Corrections Officer Tyrone Leslie gave Mr. Stile notice that this
incident had been referred to the Disciplinary Board along with a copy of the incident
report and a copy of the Disciplinary Board Cover Sheet advising him of his
procedural rights at the hearing. Id. ¶ 16. On November 18, 2012, Defendant Dubois
conducted a prehearing review with Mr. Stile, which lasted about thirty minutes.
Compl. ¶ 11; DSMF ¶ 17. 11 Mr. Stile stated that the inhalers were empty which made
it difficult for him to breathe as he suffers from emphysema, and that he broke it open
to illustrate that it was empty. Compl. ¶ 11. Mr. Stile also stated that he wanted to
call as a witness a medical technician whose last name is Vattanasiu. Id.; DSMF ¶
Mr. Stile was advised that the disciplinary board hearing would be on
November 21, 2012. DSMF ¶ 17. Mr. Stile was subsequently found guilty and was
given fourteen days disciplinary segregation as a sanction. Id. ¶ 18.
The parties disagree about when this prehearing occurred. Defendants state that this
prehearing was conducted on November 16, and that corrections officer Sampson was also present.
DMSF ¶ 17. As the Court is required to view the facts in the light most favorable to Mr. Stile, it used
November 18, 2012 as the date of the prehearing and stated that only Defendant Dubois was present.
Defendants’ statement of material facts conflicts with Mr. Stile’s Complaint as Defendants
state that Mr. Stile also wanted corrections officer Leslie as a witness. As the Court is required to
view the facts in the light most favorable to Mr. Stile, it provides that Mr. Stile wanted only med tech
Vattanasiu as a witness.
Mr. Stile’s third hearing centered on charges based on an incident from
November 16, 2012, minor rule violations 6, 11, and 20 and major violations B-11 and
B-21. Compl. ¶ 16; Id. ¶ 19. These charges concerned an incident in which Mr. Stile
intentionally flooded his cell. DSMF ¶ 20. That same day, Corrections Officer
Suzanne DelRossi gave Mr. Stile notice that this incident had been referred to the
Disciplinary Board along with a copy of the incident report and a copy of the
Disciplinary Board Cover Sheet which advised him of his procedural rights at the
hearing. Id. ¶ 21. The next day, Defendant Dubois conducted a pre-hearing review
with Mr. Stile. Id. ¶ 22. Mr. Stile admitted that he “did it” and stated that he did
not plan to call any witnesses. Id. He was advised that the disciplinary board hearing
would be held on November 21, 2012, at which he was found guilty and was given
sixteen days disciplinary segregation as a sanction. Id. ¶¶ 22-23.
The fourth hearing considered charges against Mr. Stile based on an incident
from November 16, 2012, minor rule violations 7, 11, 20, and 29 and major violations
B-1, B-10, B-11 and B-21. Compl. ¶ 16; Id. ¶ 24. Mr. Stile was accused of repeatedly
and unnecessarily calling subcontrol and ripping his styrofoam tray and stuffing it in
the toilet, defecating on the floor and smearing feces in his cell, and using vulgar
language toward officers. DSMF ¶ 25. On November 16, 2012, Corrections Officer
Ryan Finch placed a copy of the incident report and a copy of the Disciplinary Board
Cover Sheet, advising Mr. Stile of his hearing procedural rights in Mr. Stile’s folder
for when he returned from intake. Id. ¶ 26. On November 17, 2012, Defendant
Dubois conducted a prehearing review with Mr. Stile. Id. ¶ 27. Mr. Stile stated that
he called subcontrol to get his property and for toilet paper, and that he did not plan
to call any witnesses at the hearing, which he was advised would be on November 21,
Ultimately, Mr. Stile was found guilty and was given twenty days
disciplinary segregation as a sanction. Id. ¶ 28.
The fifth hearing concerned charges against Mr. Stile based on an incident
from November 16, 2012, minor rule violations 2, 7, 11, 12, and 20 and major
violations B-1 and B-21. Compl. ¶ 16; Id. ¶ 29. Mr. Stile was accused of making
threats toward Corrections Officer Michael Darling, wiping feces on the walls,
refusing to comply with orders, and resisting officers. DSMF ¶ 30. The same day,
Defendant Darling placed a copy of the incident report along with a copy of the
Disciplinary Board Cover Sheet, which outlined Mr. Stile’s procedural rights at the
hearing, in Mr. Stile’s folder for him when he returned from intake. Id. ¶ 31. On
November 17, 2012, Defendant Dubois conducted a prehearing review with Mr. Stile
about the incident. Id. ¶ 32. During this review, Mr. Stile stated that he had been
asking for toilet paper for a half-hour and, as a protest, he wiped feces. Id. He denied
pulling away from the corrections officer and stated that he planned to call
Corrections Officer Morrison as a witness; he was advised that the disciplinary board
would be on November 21, 2012. Id. Mr. Stile was found guilty and was given twentyfive days disciplinary segregation as a sanction. Id. ¶ 33.
Aftermath of Disciplinary Hearings 13
Mr. Stile was not present at any of the five disciplinary hearings held on
November 21, 2012, and the disciplinary board made its decision based on the
incident reports and did not hear from any witnesses. Id. ¶ 34. 14 Mr. Stile appealed
the five disciplinary hearing decisions and Captain Steve Butts denied those appeals
on December 3, 2012. Id. ¶ 35. Mr. Stile did not serve any of the disciplinary
segregation that he was assessed at the five disciplinary hearings.
Id. ¶ 36. 15
However, while incarcerated at the Cumberland County Jail, Mr. Stile received
disciplinary segregation based on discipline he received while he was incarcerated at
the Somerset County Jail. Id. ¶ 37.
Somerset County Jail
Somerset County Jail’s Policies
At Somerset County, an inmate may appeal the decision of a disciplinary
hearing officer to the jail administrator within ten days of the disciplinary hearing,
and to appeal a disciplinary hearing decision, the inmate submits an Appeal of
Corrections officer Jennifer Slocum was not responsible for imposing any discipline on Mr.
Stile, nor did she require Mr. Stile to serve any disciplinary segregation based on his incidents at
Somerset County Jail. Id. ¶ 39. Similarly, Kevin Joyce, the Sheriff of Cumberland County, had no
involvement in Mr. Stile's disciplinary hearings at the jail. Id. ¶ 47. Furthermore, Sheriff. Joyce is
not aware of any occasions when Cumberland County corrections officers conducted disciplinary
hearings unlawfully or used unlawful procedures at disciplinary hearings. Id. ¶ 48. Sheriff Joyce also
had no prior knowledge relating to the procedures used during the disciplinary hearings on November
21, 2012, regarding Mr. Stile. Id. ¶ 50. Jail administrator Fran Breton also had no prior knowledge
relating to the procedures used during the disciplinary hearings on November 21, 2012, regarding Mr.
Stile. Id. ¶ 49.
Defendants cited this statement of material fact from the Affidavit of Lieutenant George
Panenka, paragraph 13. However, the statement appears in paragraph 14 of that Affidavit. Aff. of
George Panenka (ECF No. 205, Attach. 19).
Defendants cited this statement of material fact from the Affidavit of Lieutenant George
Panenka, paragraph 8. However, the statement appears in paragraph 15 of that Affidavit. Aff. of
George Panenka (ECF No. 205, Attach. 19).
Disciplinary Hearing Decision form to correction officer Gary Crafts for the Jail
Administrator or designee to answer. Id. ¶ 41. The decision of the jail administrator
is final and cannot be appealed. Id. ¶ 42.
Previous Discipline at Somerset County Jail
Mr. Stile received a total of thirty-seven days of disciplinary segregation for
various incidents committed in December 2011 while he was at Somerset County Jail.
Id. ¶ 38. Mr. Stile served these days of segregation discipline at Cumberland County
Jail beginning November 24, 2012. Id. Mr. Stile previously had three hearings for
four separate incidents at the Somerset County Jail from December 2011 to January
2012. Id. ¶¶ 43-44. Mr. Stile was found guilty at all three hearings and did not
appeal any of these decisions.
On September 16, 2012, Defendant Slocum
contacted Somerset County Jail and, based on that request, the Somerset County Jail
faxed over Mr. Stile’s previous disciplinary findings while incarcerated there. Compl.
November 29, 2012 Incident
On November 29, 2012, Corrections Officer Trevor Purinton was working in
maximum security when he began to let inmates out of their cells for their allotted
time between 0830 and 0930 hours. DSMF ¶ 51. Mr. Stile was housed in an area
with three cells around one day room and corrections officers let out inmates in the
day room at the same time; however, if any inmate did not want to come out, he could
close his cell door. Id. ¶¶ 53-54. 16 Defendant Purinton was whispering beforehand
with Mr. Lester. Compl. ¶ 36. Defendant Purinton called subcontrol to have them
open Mr. Stile’s cell door. Id.; DSMF ¶ 52. Mr. Stile was housed in a cell that had a
sliding door and could be opened from subcontrol. DSMF ¶ 60. Defendant Purinton
went to the next cell door and manually keyed open the door for inmate Lester.
Compl. ¶ 36; Id. ¶ 52. Unlike Mr. Stile’s cell, Mr. Lester’s cell needed to be opened
with a key. DSMF ¶ 61. Defendant Purinton exited the day room and walked to the
next day room to begin unlocking cells there. Id. ¶ 55.
Before he was assaulted by Mr. Lester, Mr. Stile had not informed correctional
officers that he thought Mr. Lester or other inmates would assault him. Id. ¶ 56. Nor
had Mr. Stile told correctional officers that he felt threatened by Mr. Lester or any
inmates. Id. ¶ 57. Mr. Stile also did not request to be placed in protective custody.
Id. ¶ 58. Cumberland County Jail Policy D-243 outlines the procedures for protective
custody. Id. ¶ 106A. If an inmate in maximum security requests protective custody
or tells an officer he feels threatened, corrections officers will not let the inmate into
the dayroom at the same time as other inmates. Id. ¶ 59.
Mr. Lester went into Mr. Stile’s cell, got on top of Mr. Stile, and hit him with
his hands. Id. ¶ 63. As soon as corrections officers became aware of this occurrence,
they entered Mr. Stile’s cell, ordered Mr. Lester to stop, and moved him away from
Mr. Stile. Id. ¶ 64. Defendant Purinton did not request, discuss or make a deal with
Defendants cited part of this statement of material fact as exclusively from the Affidavit of
Sergeant Donald Young, paragraph 3. However, part of the statement appears in paragraph 2 of that
Affidavit. Aff. of Donald Young (ECF No. 205, Attach. 16).
Mr. Lester to assault Mr. Stile. Id. ¶ 62. Medical personnel were notified and arrived
shortly after, treated Mr. Stile, and escorted him to the medical department in a
Id. ¶ 65.
When the assault occurred, Defendant Young was the
supervisor in A-pod but was not present at the time and did not witness the assault.
Id. ¶¶ 66-67. Defendant Logan was assigned to maximum security when the assault
occurred but did not witness the assault. Id. ¶¶ 68-69.
Transition to Maximum Security
Reclassification to Maximum Security Policy
Cumberland County Jail’s Policy D-130 specifies the procedures for
reclassifying an inmate to a higher classification assignment, including in emergency
situations, and requires that notice of the change be given to the inmate. Id. ¶ 107.
If an inmate is reclassified on an emergency basis, the decision will be reviewed by
the Classification Committee at its next meeting. Id. ¶ 108. An inmate has a right
to appeal a classification decision within ten days. Id. ¶ 109. All inmates, including
those in disciplinary segregation, can make collect telephone calls regularly during
assigned time periods, with some exceptions. Id. ¶ 110.
Maximum Security Related Incidents
On November 6, 2012, Mr. Stile was moved from the seventy-two hour section
of the jail to maximum security as a result of a threat he made in the seventy-two
hour section, where he stated that if “he was out with these skinners and cop beaters,
he would punch someone.” Id. ¶¶ 70, 72. 17 Before that threat, Mr. Stile was serving
Sergeant Donald Young did not move Mr. Stile from the seventy-two hour section of the jail to
maximum security. Id. ¶ 73.
disciplinary segregation that began November 2, 2012, and was set to end November
9, 2012. Id. ¶ 71.
On November 16, 2012, Defendant DelRossi was working in maximum
security, and during one of her security checks, she noticed water in the 111 dayroom
coming out of cell 116. Id. ¶¶ 75-76. When Defendant DelRossi spoke to Mr. Stiles,
he stated that he had flooded his cell. Id. ¶ 77. Defendant DelRossi placed Mr. Stile
in cell A-224, where he had no toilet paper, running water, legal papers, hygienic
items, bedding or blankets, and plumbing issues. Compl. ¶ 18. Mr. Stile was removed
to the intake tank cell at approximately 1350 hours and brought back to maximum
security at approximately 1445 hours. DSMF ¶ 78.
On November 18, 2012, Mr. Stile was reclassified as maximum security.
Compl. ¶ 19; Id. ¶ 96.
Lieutenant William Brady reclassified Mr. Stile on an
emergency basis due to Mr. Stile’s threatening officers, continually throwing things,
smearing feces, and flooding his cell. DSMF ¶¶ 96, 98. 18 Mr. Stile received notice
that he had been reclassified and did not appeal this decision.
Id. ¶¶ 97, 99.
Defendant Young was not involved in the decision to reclassify Mr. Stile to maximum
security. Id. ¶ 100. On November 21, 2012, Mr. Stile’s classification was reviewed,
and it was decided to maintain Mr. Stile in maximum security. Id. ¶ 101. Mr. Stile’s
classification was reviewed again on December 19, 2012, and Mr. Stile's classification
was maintained as maximum security. Id. ¶ 102. From the time he was reclassified
Defendant Joyce is not aware of any occasions when Cumberland County corrections officers
have classified inmates unlawfully or used unlawful procedures to classify or reclassify inmates or
detainees. Id. ¶ 104.
to maximum security until he was transferred out of Cumberland County Jail, Mr.
Stile did not ask for his classification to be reviewed. Id. ¶ 103.
On three different dates in November and December 2012, Mr. Stile was taken
to intake and returned to maximum security within a few hours. Id. ¶¶ 82-85, 8789. 19 On December 6, 2012, Mr. Stile was placed in cell F-228 for six and half hours
without shoes or socks by Defendants Abrol and Pickreign. Compl. ¶ 20.
December 7, 2012, Defendant Pickreign had all of Mr. Stile’s belongings taken from
his cell. Id. ¶ 38. Two of these transfers were done so that Mr. Stile’s cell could be
cleaned, one because Mr. Stile had urinated under his cell door before being moved.
DSMF ¶¶ 84-85, 87-89. Inmates are occasionally moved from maximum security to
intake to facilitate cell cleaning. Id. ¶ 86.
Incidents Relating to Meals, Beverages, Privacy, and Other Jail
On four separate occasions in November of 2012, Mr. Stile misused his food
tray. Id. ¶¶ 74, 79-81. In two of these incidents, Mr. Stile made derogatory remarks,
one toward a corrections officer, and he also urinated on the floor. Id. ¶¶ 74, 80-81.
On December 9, 2012, Defendant Logan threw his food tray to the floor, depriving
him of that meal. Compl. ¶ 40.
Cells F-228 and F-229 are intake holding cells known as “the Tank.” DSMF ¶
90. In these cells, inmates have access to water in their cells but are given cups filled
with juice at mealtimes. Id. ¶¶ 91-92. Corrections Officer Christopher Phillips often
Defendant Breton had no prior knowledge of Mr. Stile being placed in cells in intake at various
times in November and December of 2012. Id. ¶ 95.
handled Mr. Stile’s beverage cup in an unsanitary manner. Compl. ¶ 40. Mr. Stile
never complained to Defendant Phillips about how he handed Mr. Stile’s cup and did
not request another cup from Defendant Phillips. DSMF ¶ 93.
Defendant Pickreign looked at Mr. Stile’s discovery photographs in his cell.
Compl. ¶ 25. Defendant Abrol also discussed the basis for Mr. Stile’s conviction with
other inmates. Id. ¶ 29. On November 27, 2012, Defendant Renna threw his mail in
“biohazard” water, making it illegible. Id. ¶ 35. 20 On November 28, 2012, Defendants
Renna and Purinton threw debris and urine under his cell door, and Defendant Renna
threw his mail in urine on the floor. Id. ¶ 37.
Access to Legal Materials at Cumberland County Jail
Cumberland County Jail’s Policies on Legal Materials
Pursuant to Policy F-340, inmates are not permitted to keep law books in their
cells overnight. DSMF ¶ 113. Under the same policy, inmates in maximum security
and seventy-two hour are provided legal books on a cart system. Id. ¶ 114. The cart
contains a variety of basic legal materials. Id. 21 Materials not on the cart, including
caselaw, can be requested through requests slips and similarly, to access the
computer with Westlaw, a request form must be filled out. Id. ¶¶ 115-16.
Access to Legal Materials
Defendants’ statement of material facts conflicts with Mr. Stile’s assertion that Defendant
Renna intentionally damaged his mail. DSMF ¶ 128. Defendants assert that it is possible some of
the mail unintentionally fell on the floor which was wet from an overflowing toilet. Id. As the Court
is required to view the facts in the light most favorable to Mr. Stile, it accepts his version of the facts.
The cart usually has Maine statutes, US and state constitutions, Black's Law Dictionary, text
on state criminal procedures, state rules of court, rules of US Circuit Court of Appeals, LaFave and
Scott: Criminal Law Handbook, Cohen: Legal Research, Palmer: Constitutional Rights of Prisoners,
Prisoner's Self-Help Litigation Manual, and The Detention and Correction Standards. Id.
Mr. Stile asserts he dismissed his previous § 1983 action (2:12-CV-260) because
he did not have access to law books and the legal computer. Compl. ¶ 10. Corrections
Officers Adam Mitchell and Stanley Piknik, and Lieutenant Arlene Jacques provided
Mr. Stile with inadequate, damaged law books and did not often allow him to access
the legal computer.
Corrections Officer Mark Stotts in conjunction with
Defendants Purinton, Renna, Logan, Pickreign, Breton, Phillips, and Young also
denied Mr. Stile access to the legal computer. 22 Id. Defendants Stotts, Renna, Piknik,
Mitchell, Pickreign, Jacques, Purinton, Logan, Young, and Phillips, never denied Mr.
Stile access to law books or legal materials unless he had engaged in disruptive
behavior that created a security threat for the jail. DSMF ¶¶ 124, 127.
The legal books cart containing legal materials alternated between maximum
security and seventy-two hour and was generally in maximum security for two or
three days and in seventy-two hour for two or three days, and so forth. DSMF ¶ 119.
Before being moved, the cart was checked to make sure all the required books were
on it. Id. ¶ 120. Mr. Stile was found to have law books in his cell on several occasions
and was written up for these violations. Id. ¶¶ 117-118. Mr. Stile did not request
access to the Westlaw computers from April 2012 until at least November 7, 2012.
Id. ¶ 121. Defendant Breton had no knowledge that corrections officers were not
following policies with regard to Mr. Stile's access to Westlaw, legal computers, or
Defendants’ statement of material facts conflicts with Mr. Stile’s assertion in that Defendants
assert Defendants Stotts, Renna, Purinton, Logan, Young, Piknick, Pickreign, Phillips had no
involvement in his access to the law computer and that Defendants Mitchell and Jacques never denied
him access to the legal computer. DSMF ¶¶ 125-27. As the Court is required to view the facts in the
light most favorable to Mr. Stile, it accepts his version of the facts.
other legal materials. Id. ¶ 122. Defendant Joyce is not aware of any occasions when
inmates or detainees at the jail have been unlawfully denied access to legal materials.
Id. ¶ 123.
On November 27, 2012, Defendant Stotts dumped Mr. Stile’s legal mail in a
puddle of toilet water. 23 Compl. ¶ 32. On November 30, 2012, Defendant Philips told
a medical worker that Mr. Stile did not have to call his attorney and could write him
instead; however, Defendant Philips did not provide Mr. Stile with writing materials.
Id. ¶ 36.
Cumberland County Jail’s Grievance Policies
The grievance procedure for the Cumberland County Jail provides that an
inmate may initiate a grievance for an alleged violation of civil, constitutional, or
statutory rights or of policy, an alleged criminal or prohibited act by a staff member,
or to resolve a condition existing within the jail that creates unsafe or unsanitary
DSMF ¶ 129.
If an issue is not resolved informally, the
Cumberland County Jail’s grievance procedure requires that an inmate first fill out
an Inmate Grievance Form, which is answered by the jail administrator or designee.
Id. ¶ 130. If an inmate is not satisfied with the response to the administration’s
response to the grievance, the inmate may fill out an inmate Grievance Appeal Form
which is answered by the Sheriff or designee. Id. ¶ 131. Thereafter, if the inmate is
Defendants’ statement of material facts conflicts with Mr. Stile’s assertion that Defendant
Stotts intentionally damaged his mail. DSMF ¶ 128. Defendants assert that it is possible some of the
mail unintentionally fell on the floor which was wet from an overflowing toilet. Id. As the Court is
required to view the facts in the light most favorable to Mr. Stile, it accepts his version of the facts.
not content after receiving his or her appeal response, the inmate may file a grievance
with the Maine Department of Corrections for external review, which also constitutes
the final step in the Cumberland County Jail grievance procedure. Id. ¶ 132.
Mr. Stile’s Grievances
Mr. Stile filed numerous grievances at the Cumberland County Jail, covering
February, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and
December of 2012.
Id. ¶ 133.
However, Mr. Stile did not file any grievances
concerning the assault by Mr. Lester, any other inmates, or any correction officers.
Id. ¶ 134. Mr. Stile asserts that Defendants refused to provide him with grievance
forms to file and that he needed other inmates to provide him with grievance forms,
which he then filed. Compl. ¶ 31. He also states that an unnamed corrections officer
threw one of his grievances in toilet water on November 25, 2012. Id.
Maine Tort Claims Act
Cumberland County is a named member of the Risk Pool, a public self-funded
pool established pursuant to 30-A M.R.S.A. ch. 117, to provide risk management
coverage for pool members, and is provided with insurance-type coverage pursuant
to a document entitled “Maine County Commissioners Association Self-Funded Risk
Management Pool Coverage Document” (“Coverage Document”). DSMF ¶¶ 135-36.24
Coverage under the Risk Pool's Coverage Document extends to Cumberland County
only for risk enumerated in the Coverage Document and does not extend to those
risks not enumerated or for which affirmative language in the Coverage Document
Defendants’ attached a true and accurate copy of the Coverage Certificates issued to
Cumberland County for January 1, 2012, through December 31, 2013 as exhibits 10 and 11. Id. ¶ 137.
specifically excludes coverage. Id. ¶ 138. Specifically, Section III-Casualty Coverage
of the Coverage Document states:
For all causes of action seeking tort damages pursuant to the
provisions of the Maine Tort Claims Act, 14 M.R.S.A. § 8101, et
seq. Coverage hereunder shall not be deemed a waiver of any
immunities or limitations of damages available under the Maine
Tort Claims Act, or any Maine statutory law, judicial precedent, or
Coverage is limited to those areas for which governmental immunity has
been expressly waived by 14 M.R.S.A. § 8104-A and limited by 14
M.R.S.A. § 8104-B and 14 M.R.S.A. § 8111.
Id. ¶ 139. The Cumberland County Member Coverage Certificates covering the
period from January 1, 2012, to December 31, 2013, states:
Coverage is limited to those areas for which governmental immunity
has been expressly waived by 14 M.R.S.A. § 8104-A, as limited by
14 M.R.S.A. § 8104-B and 14 M.R.S.A. § 8111 . . . [.]
Liability coverage shall not be deemed a waiver of any immunities
or limitation or damages available under the Maine Tort Claims Act,
other Maine statutory law, judicial precedent, or common law.
Id. ¶ 140. Other than the insurance-type coverage provided to Cumberland County
under the Risk Pool's Coverage Document, Cumberland County has not procured
insurance against liability for any claim against the County or its employees for
which immunity is not otherwise waived under the Maine Tort Claims Act. Id. ¶ 141.
Cumberland County did not receive a notice of claim against the County or any
County employees regarding the actions discussed in the complaint until the County
received a copy of the Complaint in October of 2014. Id. ¶ 142.
POSITION OF THE PARTIES
James Stile’s Complaint
Mr. Stile makes multiple allegations regarding his treatment at the
Cumberland County Jail; the majority centers around alleged constitutional
violations committed by corrections officers. See generally Compl. One of Mr. Stile’s
major grievances concerns how his disciplinary hearings were conducted. He asserts
his Fourteenth Amendment constitutional right to due process was violated when he
was denied an expedient and fair disciplinary board hearing, especially when he was
not present at the hearing. Id. ¶¶ 11, 14. Mr. Stile also claims he was slandered. Id.
Mr. Stile avers that Defendants Joyce, Panenka, Dubois, Slocum, Young, Leblanc,
Bisson, and Breton denied his First Amendment right to freedom of speech to
question a witness and his Sixth Amendment right to confront witness. Id. ¶ 12.
Mr. Stile also complains of his access to legal materials and the treatment of
his own mail. Mr. Stile claims Defendants Mitchell, Jacques, and Piknick denied him
access to legal materials and that these three corrections officers along with
Defendants Renna, Purington, Logan, Pickreign, Breton, Young, Stotts, and Phillips
denied him access to the jail’s legal computer. Id. ¶ 10. Mr. Stile alleges multiple
incidents wherein the Defendants allegedly mishandled his mail in an unsanitary
manner or took his belongings from his cell. Id. ¶¶ 32, 35, 37, 39.
Mr. Stile makes a variety of claims stemming from his disciplinary segregation,
his placement and treatment within certain cells, and the unsanitary condition of the
jail overall. He asserts that his disciplinary segregation amounted to cruel and
unusual punishment and because the basis for this segregation was discipline
previously adjudicated at Somerset County Jail, it amounted to a violation of his due
process rights. Id. ¶¶ 14, 15. Mr. Stiles also asserts his disciplinary segregation was
a violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause because minor violations of jail policies
were used for additional disciplinary segregation. Id. ¶ 16. Mr. Stile avers that
Defendants DelRossi and Breton violated his due process rights by placing him the
cell A-224, known as the “suicide cell,” and denying him basic amenities. Id. ¶ 18.
Mr. Stile further asserts that A-224 did not have working bathroom facilities
and this denial amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Id. Mr. Stile claims he
was reclassified to maximum security without a disciplinary board hearing and that
this violated his due process rights. Id. ¶ 19. Mr. Stile alleges that in early December
of 2012, Defendants Abrol and Pickreign placed him in a cell known as F-228 and
stripped him of his shoes and socks for six and half hours when the cell was cold,
which amounted to cruel and unusual punishment, and a violation of his due process
rights and of the Double Jeopardy Clause. Id. ¶ 20. Mr. Stile similarly claims that
his placement in intake while his cell was being cleaned constituted cruel and
unusual punishment, a violation of his due process rights, and a violation of the
Double Jeopardy Clause because the cell was wet and cold. Id. ¶ 21. From November
28 to November 29, 2012, Mr. Stile claims he was subjected to various instances of
unsanitary conditions. Id. Mr. Stile avers that Defendant Logan once threw this food
tray to the floor, and he was unable to eat, and that Defendant Phillips commonly
handled garbage and then Mr. Stile’s cup. Id. ¶ 40.
Mr. Stile asserts that corrections officers also violated his right of privacy while
at Cumberland County Jail. He claims Defendant Pickreign violated his right to
privacy by allegedly going through his photographs in his cell. Id. ¶ 25. On November
27, 2012, Mr. Stile alleges Defendant Abrol violated his right to privacy by making a
statement about Mr. Stile’s robbery conviction to other inmates. Id. ¶ 29. Mr. Stile
asserts he was also subjected to physical violence while at Cumberland County Jail.
Mr. Stile claims that an assault, perpetuated against him on November 29, 2012, by
another inmate, was made possible by Defendants Logan and Purinton. Id. ¶ 36.
Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment
Defendants state they are entitled to qualified immunity on Mr. Stile’s
constitutional claims “because there were no constitutional violations and the rights
in question were not clearly established.”
Defs.’ Mots. at 8.
Citing Pearson v.
Callahan, 555 U.S. 233, 236 (2009) and Maldonado v. Fontanes, 568 F.3d 263, 26869 (1st Cir. 2009), Defendants note that qualified immunity is a two-part test
whereby first, the alleged facts must show that the government officials conduct
violated a constitutional right, and second, the right must be clearly established.
Defs.’ Mots. at 8-9 (citing Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 2001 (2001)). They contend
that Mr. Stile’s procedural due process rights were not violated by any of the
discipline he received at Cumberland County Jail, his placement into intake, or his
reclassification to maximum security, because Mr. Stile was not punished by these
actions as they were reasonably related to a legitimate governmental objective and
contained several procedural safeguards. Id. at 9-11.
In regard to Defendants Panenka, Bisson, and Leblanc, all of whom served as
members of the disciplinary hearing board on November 21, 2012, Defendants
highlight that Mr. Stile was not denied a liberty interest because he never actually
served any disciplinary sanctions imposed at these hearings.
Id. at 12-13.
Defendants state that Mr. Stile’s exclusion from these hearings was also not a
violation of his due process rights because inmates may be excluded from disciplinary
hearings for disruptive behavior without violating their due process rights. Id. at 13
(citing Randle v. Woods, 299 F. App'x 466, 469 (5th Cir. 2008)).
Defendants argue that Mr. Stile’s allegation that Defendant Dubois violated
his procedural due process rights is without merit because while Defendant Dubois
conducted three prehearing reviews with Mr. Stile, he did not participate in any of
the disciplinary hearings and did not impose any discipline on Mr. Stile. Id. at 1314.
Similarly, Defendants contend that Defendant Slocum’s administrative
involvement in having Somerset County Jail fax disciplinary information on Mr. Stile
to Cumberland County Jail and providing that information to the disciplinary
hearing officers does not constitute a violation of Mr. Stile’s due process rights given
that she neither imposed nor required Mr. Stile to serve any disciplinary segregation
from Somerset County Jail. Id. at 14.
Defendants say Defendant DelRossi is entitled to qualified immunity because
there is no preexisting law that would have put her on notice that her actions in
moving Mr. Stile to intake for less than an hour would violate his due process rights.
Id. at 15. Defendants likewise contend Defendant Young is shielded under qualified
immunity because Mr. Stile did not have a liberty interest at stake in being moved
from the seventy-two hour section of the jail to maximum security, and his movement
was for legitimate reasons. Id. at 16. As for Mr. Stile’s claim that his due process
rights were violated by his placement in the “drunk tank” on various dates,
Defendants state that Mr. Stile did not allege which Defendants were personally
involved as required under § 1983, and regardless, these placements were temporary.
Id. at 16-17. Lastly, Defendants argue that because Mr. Stile’s reclassification was
done on an emergency basis, and because he was given notice and choose not to
appeal, there was no due process violation. Id. at 17.
Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies
Defendants state they are entitled to summary judgment on Mr. Stile’s
allegations relating to the assault by Mr. Lester and Mr. Stile’s reclassification to
maximum security because Mr. Stile did not fully exhaust his administrative
remedies as required under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Id. at 31 (citing 42
U.S.C. §1997e(a)). Defendants contend that even though Mr. Stile filed numerous
grievances while at Cumberland County Jail, he did not file any grievances about
being assaulted by inmates or corrections officers and he did not appeal his
classification to maximum security nor did he seek to have that classification
reviewed. Id. at 31. As a result, in the Defendants’ view, Mr. Stile did not properly
exhaust his available administrative remedies and is precluded from making these
Denial of Access to the Courts and to Effective Assistance
Defendants contend that Mr. Stile’s allegation that he was denied access to law
books by Defendants Mitchell, Jacques, and Piknick and denied access to the jail’s
legal computers by Defendants Renna, Purinton, Logan, Pickreign, Piknik, Young,
Stotts, Phillips, Jacques, and Mitchell, and thus, denied access to the courts, falls
short because Mr. Stile has not alleged an actual injury from this alleged denial. Id.
at 4. Defendants aver that law books were available to Mr. Stile several times during
the week and inmates can request other legal materials by filling out request slips.
Id. at 18. Defendants maintain Mr. Stile did not submit any request slips to access
Westlaw between April 2012 and November 7, 2012. Id. The only instances in which
Mr. Stile was denied law books or denied access to legal materials, they assert, was
when he violated jail policies or engaged in behavior that created a security threat.
Id. at 19.
As for Mr. Stile’s claim of denial of effective assistance of counsel,
Defendants assert it is barred by the favorable termination doctrine. Id. (citing Heck
v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994)).
Denial and Handling of Food
Defendants dismiss Mr. Stile’s claims concerning denials of meals and the
unsanitary handling of food as insufficient to constitute a cruel and unusual
condition. Id. at 5, 18. Defendants cite Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 833 (1994),
for the proposition that a corrections officer’s actions must constitute an objectively
serious deprivation and be deliberately indifferent to equate to a cruel and unusual
condition. Id. 17-18. In turn, they argue there is no evidence that Defendants Stotts,
Young, or Logan were aware that Mr. Stile was occasionally missing a meal so as to
generate a substantial risk of harm to him. Id. at 18. As for Defendant Phillips
touching garbage and then handling cups containing juice, Defendants aver that
Defendant Phillips was not actually aware that this created a substantial risk of
harm and thus, there is no objectively serious deprivation or deliberate indifference
in his actions. Id. at 18.
Violation of a Constitutional Right to Privacy
In regard to Mr. Stile’s claim that his right to privacy was violated by
Defendant Abrol when he made a statement to other inmates about Mr. Stile’s
robbery conviction and when Defendant Pickreign looked at photos from his criminal
case in his cell, Defendants contend that while some courts acknowledge that
prisoners do have a constitutional right to privacy, it is limited to information that is
“intensely personal.” Id. at 6 (quoting Klein v. MHM Corr. Servs., 2010 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 83818, at *14 (D. Mass. Aug. 16, 2010)). Defendants assert that in contrast,
Mr. Stile’s alleged violations concerned matters part of the public realm, and cannot
be the basis for a constitutional violation. Id. at 7.
Defendants reject Mr. Stile’s claim that the actions leading up to and at his
disciplinary hearings constitute a violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause. Id. They
argue that the Double Jeopardy Clause is applicable to criminal proceedings, not
prison disciplinary hearings. Id. (citing Langton v. Berman, 667 F.2d 231, 232 (1st
Cir. 1981); Street v. Rakiey, Nos. 91-1928, 92-1927, 1993 WL 93134, at *3, 1993 U. S.
App. LEXIS 6655, at *8 (1st Cir. Mar. 30, 1993)).
Failure to Prevent Assault
Citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 833, Defendants concede that prison personnel have
a duty to protect inmates from violence by other prisoners; however, they dispute that
Mr. Lester’s assault on Mr. Stile is actionable because the relevant corrections officers
were not deliberately indifferent. Id. at 19. Defendants highlight that none of the
corrections officers named by Mr. Stile knew or should have known that Mr. Stile was
going to be assaulted by Mr. Lester. Id. They argue that there is no evidence that
these individuals were aware of any facts that would have lead them to infer that
there was a substantial risk to Mr. Stile’s safety. Id.
Defendant James Harriman
Defendants note that although Mr. Stile lists Corrections Officer James
Harriman in the caption of his Complaint, he does not state any facts that would
constitute a basis for a claim against him. Id. at 7. At his deposition and in his
interrogatory answers, Mr. Stile alleged Defendant Harriman told another inmate, a
Mr. Brushetta, that Mr. Stile was the cause of a flood in the hope that Mr. Brushetta
would assault Mr. Stile. Id. at 20. Yet, pointing to Mr. Stile’s deposition, Defendants
state that Mr. Stile was not assaulted by Mr. Brushetta. Id.
Defendants argue that Defendants Joyce and Breton cannot be liable under
supervisory liability claims because there were no underlying constitutional
violations. Id. at 21 (citing Wilson v. Town of Mendon, 294 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2002)).
Defendants assert that to be liable as a supervisor, there must be evidence of
deliberate indifference. Id. (citing Camilo-Robles v. Hoyes, 151 F.3d 1, 6-7 (1st Cir.
1998)). They contend there must also be “strong causal connection between the
supervisor’s conduct and the constitutional violation.” Id. (quoting Ramirez-Lluveras
v. Rivera-Merced, 759 F.3d 10, 19 (1st Cir. 2014)). Defendants claim that Mr. Stile’s
only allegation concerning Defendants Joyce’s involvement stems from Mr. Stile’s
disciplinary hearings. Id. at 22. But Defendants aver that Defendant Joyce had no
involvement in those hearings, and no prior knowledge relating to the procedures at
Defendants reject Mr. Stile’s claim that Defendant Breton was involved in his
disciplinary hearings at Cumberland County Jail, limited his access to the law
computer, or was involved in his placement to intake, as they claim Defendant Breton
had no prior knowledge about the procedures of the disciplinary hearings on
November 21, 2012, Mr. Stile being placed into intake, or the denial of his access to
Westlaw. Id. at 22-23.
Similar to their argument concerning supervisory liability, Defendants
contend that Cumberland County cannot be held liable under municipal liability
because there were no underlying constitutional violations.
Id. at 23.
Defendants maintain that none of the governmental policies, customs, or practices at
issue in this suit is unconstitutional, and because there are no unconstitutional
actions by Cumberland County Jail employees pursuant to unconstitutional official
policies, or a pattern of extensive unconstitutional conduct which Cumberland
County knew or should have known about, there can be no municipal liability. Id. at
Defendants focus on Cumberland County Jail’s policies concerning disciplinary
hearings, reclassification, protective custody, legal materials, and phone calls, and
claim that there is no evidence that any of these policies are unconstitutional. Id. at
24. Defendants contend that there is no evidence of any well-settled unconstitutional
practices or customs, and no showing of actual or constructive knowledge of such
practices. Id. at 25. Defendants maintain that Defendant Joyce had no knowledge
of any corrections officers unlawfully conducting disciplinary hearings or using
unlawful procedures at said hearings, classifying inmates unlawfully or using
unlawful procedures to classify inmates, or inmates being unlawfully denied access
to legal materials. Id. Defendants assert that Cumberland County is not liable
because to succeed on his § 1983 suit, Mr. Stile must establish a causal connection
between a constitutional violation and an institutional policy.
Defendants argue there is no evidence that they acted pursuant to a policy which
resulted in a violation of Mr. Stile’s constitutional rights. Id.
State Law Tort Claims
Defendants assert that Mr. Stile’s claim of slander, as well possible other torts,
are governed by the Maine Tort Claims Act (“MTCA”). Id. at 26. Noting that the
MTCA has a 180-day notice of claim requirement, Defendants argue that Mr. Stile
did not timely serve a notice of any of his claims, and that his state law tort claims
are barred. Id. Defendants contend that Cumberland County has general immunity
under the MTCA and its individual officers are all shielded under either discretionary
function or intentional act immunity.
Id. at 27, 29.
In regard to Cumberland
County’s general immunity, Defendants note that while there are four exceptions to
immunity under the MTCA, all are narrowly construed and inapplicable to this suit.
Id. at 27 (citing Maynard v. Comm. of Corrections, 681 A.2d 19 (Me. 1996); Lynch v.
Town of Kittery, 677 A.2d 524 (Me. 1996); J.R.M. Inc. v. City of Portland, 669 A.2d
159 (Me. 1995)). Nor, according to the Defendants, has Cumberland County waived
its immunity through being insured through Maine County Commissioners
Association Self-Funded Risk Management Pool. Id. Defendants contend that it is
immune because Mr. Stile’s claim against Cumberland County is excluded from its
insurance coverage, this exclusion was in place at the time of Mr. Stile’s torts claims,
and Cumberland County’s coverage does not extend to areas in which the
Cumberland County is immune under the MTCA. Id. at 28-29.
Defendants argue that discretionary function immunity covers Mr. Stile’s
claim of slander. Id. at 29. Defendants assert that “the management and care of
prisoners is a discretionary function.” Id. at 30 (citing Roberts v. State, 1999 ME, 89,
¶ 9, 731 A.2d 855 (citing Erskine v. Comm. of Corrections, 682 A.2d 681, 686 (Me.
1996)). In the Defendants view, Defendants Panenka, Leblanc, and Bisson used their
expertise, judgment, and basic policy evaluations in conducting the disciplinary
hearing, and are entitled to discretionary function immunity.
Defendants maintain that these individuals are entitled to intentional act immunity
as their acts were intentional actions committed within scope of their duties, not
undertaken in bad faith. Id. at 30-31. 25
“[Q]ualified immunity shields government officials ‘from liability for civil
damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or
constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.’” Matalon v.
Hynnes, 806 F.3d 627, 632-33 (1st Cir. 2015) (quoting Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S.
800, 818 (1982)). “[I]t provides ample protection to all but the plainly incompetent or
those who knowingly violate the law.” Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335, 341 (1986)).
The qualified immunity analysis proceeds in two steps. Alfano v. Lynch, 847 F.3d 71,
75 (1st Cir. 2017). First, the Court must determine “whether the plaintiff’s version
Defendants note that Mr. Stile makes legal claims against unidentified defendants. Defs.’ Mot.
at 7. Mr. Stile fails to identify which Defendants his factual allegations refer to regarding various
parts in his Complaint. Compl. ¶¶ 17, 19, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 31, 33, 41. Pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 4(m), a district court may dismiss a complaint without prejudice as to a particular
defendant if the plaintiff fails to serve him within 120 days after filing the complaint. Further, “a
district court otherwise prepared to act on dispositive motions is not obligated to ‘wait indefinitely for
[the plaintiff] to take steps to identify and serve . . . unknown defendants.’” Figueroa v. Rivera, 147
F.3d 77, 83 (1st Cir. 1998) (quoting Glaros v. Perse, 628 F.2d 679, 685 (1st Cir. 1980)) (upholding
dismissal of defendants after seventeen-month lapse). Mr. Stile filed his complaint nearly four years
ago. Defendants moved for summary judgment nearly a year ago. Within those periods Mr. Stile has
not identified those unnamed defendants. Thus, the Court dismisses those claims without prejudice.
The Court also dismisses Mr. Stile’s claim against Defendant Harriman for the same reason, and
because Mr. Stile fails to specifically identify the cause of action against Defendant Harriman.
Sanchez v. Pereira–Castillo, 590 F.3d 31, 48 (1st Cir. 2009) (The Court “must draw on our “judicial
experience and common sense” as we make a contextual judgment about the sufficiency of the
In regard to Mr. Stile’s claim that Defendant Pickreign witnessed an assault and refused to
intervene, citing Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 751 (1984), Defendants argue that Mr. Stile does not
have standing to bring claims related to alleged assaults of others. The Court agrees. Standing
consists of three elements: “The plaintiff must have (1) suffered an injury in fact, (2) that is fairly
traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant, and (3) that is likely to be redressed by a
favorable judicial decision. The plaintiff, as the party invoking federal jurisdiction, bears the burden
of establishing these elements.” Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016) (citations omitted).
The record does not establish that Mr. Stile suffered an injury in fact as a consequence of Defendant
Pickreign’s alleged inaction, and therefore, the Court dismisses this claim without prejudice.
of the facts makes out a violation of a protected right.” Id. Then “whether the right
at issue was ‘clearly established’ at the time of defendant’s alleged misconduct.” Id.
(quoting Matalon, 806 F.3d at 633). The “clearly established” analysis consists of two
sub-parts. Id. (citing MacDonald v. Town of Eastham, 745 F.3d 8, 12 (1st Cir. 2014)).
First, the plaintiff must “identify either ‘controlling authority’ or a ‘consensus of cases
of persuasive authority’ sufficient to send a clear signal to a reasonable officer that
certain conduct falls short of the constitutional norm.” Id. (quoting Wilson v. Layne,
526 U.S. 603, 617 (1999)).
Then, the court determines “whether an objectively
reasonable official in the defendant's position would have known that his conduct
violated that rule of law.” McKenney v. Mangino, 873 F.3d 75, 81 (1st Cir. 2017).
Procedural Due Process Rights
The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits a state from
depriving a person of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” U.S.
Const. amend. XIV, § 1. The analysis of a due process claim encompasses two issues.
First, “whether there exists a liberty or property interest of which a person has been
deprived,” and second, “whether the procedures followed by the State were
constitutionally sufficient.” Swarthout v. Cooke, 562 U.S. 216, 219 (2011). In the jail
context, “a pretrial detainee enjoys a due process right to be free from punishment
[but] a state [also] has a valid interest in promoting the security of detention facilities
for the safety of detainees and staff.” Ford v. Bender, 768 F.3d 15, 19 (1st Cir. 2014)
(citing Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535, 540 (1979)). “Even when prison officials
permissibly may punish a pretrial detainee for discrete violations of facility rules,
they must provide him with adequate process.”
Id. at 27.
“An arbitrary, or
disproportionate sanction, or one that furthers no legitimate penological objective,
constitutes punishment (and, thus, is proscribed by the Fourteenth Amendment).”
Surprenant v. Rivas, 424 F.3d 5, 13 (1st Cir. 2005); see also Collazo-Leon v. U.S.
Bureau of Prisons, 51 F.3d 315, 318 (1st Cir. 1995).
“[T]he minimum requirements of procedural due process are satisfied by
providing to prisoners advance written notice of the claimed violation and a written
statement of the factfinders as to the evidence relied upon and the reasons for the
disciplinary action taken.” Goguen v. Allen, 780 F.3d 437, 450 n.45 (1st Cir. 2015)
(internal quotations omitted) (citing Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563 (1974)).
At the disciplinary hearing, the inmate has the right to call witnesses and present
evidence, but there is no right to counsel or mandatory right to confront witnesses.
Wolff, 418 U.S. at 566-68, 570; Surprenant v. Rivas, 424 F.3d at 16 (citing id. at 57071) (“The Wolff Court also implied the obvious: that the essence of a fair hearing is
an impartial decisionmaker.”). The inmate must subsequently be provided written
notice of the basis for the hearing findings. Wolff, 418 U.S. at 564.
Defendants Paneka, Bisson, and Leblanc
Defendants Paneka, Bisson, and Leblanc were part of the disciplinary hearing
board which imposed discipline on Mr. Stile stemming from five separate incidents.
All charges against Mr. Stile related to specific institutional violations, and although
he was found guilty, no discipline was ever actually imposed for these violations and
thus, cannot be considered excessive. Collazo-Leon, 51 F.3d at 318.
November 21 hearing, Mr. Stile was provided twenty-four hour written notice of the
alleged violations for all five incidents to be considered at the hearing and he had
prehearing discussions with various corrections officers.
The record does not
establish that any of these Defendants were unfair or impartial. Because Mr. Stile
was not at the November 21 hearing, the board relied on the incident reports, of which
Mr. Stile had previously been apprised. Mr. Stile appealed all five board findings.
Although these appeals were denied, the record shows that Mr. Stile was provided
sufficient procedural due process.
However, Mr. Stile was denied attendance to the November 21 disciplinary
hearing. Defendants assert that this was done because Mr. Stile had trashed his cell,
was a security threat, and refused to exit his cell. 26 Mr. Stile contends flatly that
Defendants Bisson, Paneka, and Leblanc refused to allow him to attend and that he
had clearly demonstrated his desire to attend the disciplinary hearing. Taking the
facts in the most favorable light to the non-movant and drawing all reasonable
inferences to the non-movant, there is a genuine dispute of material fact and a
reasonable jury could find that Mr. Stile’s due process rights were violated when he
was denied attendance to his own disciplinary hearing and denied the right to present
his own case. 27 Wolff, 418 U.S. at 565-66.
If, as the Defendants assert, Mr. Stile refused to exit his cell to attend his scheduled hearing,
Mr. Stile could well be deemed to have waived the right to be present at the hearing. However, the
Court cannot reach this issue because it must view the facts in the light most favorable to Mr. Stile
and Mr. Stile maintains that he wished to attend the hearing.
Defendants argue that Mr. Stile has no actionable claim because he never actually served any
of the disciplinary sanctions imposed from these hearings. The Court is not persuaded by this
argument because Mr. Stile was found guilty at the November 21 hearing and the crux of his
procedural due process claim is that he was wrongly denied attendance from the hearing and was
unable to present his own case, having no say in the board’s guilty determination.
Consequently, the Court cannot conclude that Defendants Bisson, Paneka, and
Leblanc are entitled to qualified immunity on this claim. The pertinent part of the
qualified immunity analysis is whether denying Mr. Stile attendance at the hearing
violated a clearly established right such that a reasonable defendant would
understand that his actions violated that right. Ford, 768 F.3d at 23. In addition to
the issue of waiver, one critical contested fact underpinning this issue is whether the
Defendants denied Mr. Stile the right to attend for or without cause. Defendants
point to Randle, 299 F. App'x at 469, for the proposition that an inmate may be
excluded from his own disciplinary hearing without violating due process. Id.
(“Exclusion from a disciplinary hearing without cause likely raises a valid due process
claim . . . .”) (emphasis added).
However, Mr. Stile asserts he expressed his desire to present his case to the
board, but the Defendants refused to allow him to attend. This aspect of qualified
immunity is often fact dependent, especially at the summary judgment stage. See
Penn v. Escorsio, 764 F.3d 102, 113-14 (1st Cir. 2014). In drawing all reasonable
inferences to Mr. Stile, a reasonable jury could find that the Defendants excluded Mr.
Stile without cause.
Excluding an inmate arbitrarily from his own disciplinary
hearing is something a reasonable corrections officer would have known was
unlawful. Wolff, 418 U.S. at 565-66. The Court denies the Defendants’ motion for
summary judgment as it pertains to Mr. Stile’s violation of procedural due process
claim against Defendants Bisson, Paneka, and Leblanc.
Defendants Dubois and Slocum
Mr. Stile claims Defendants Dubois and Slocum also violated his procedural
due process rights. Mr. Stile does not deny that Defendant Dubois conducted at least
one prehearing with him, but he contends that Defendant Dubois denied him the
ability to call a witness at the November 21 disciplinary hearing. However, the record
shows that while Defendant Dubois conducted prehearing reviews with Mr. Stile, he
did not have a role in the disciplinary board or at the actual hearing. As result, there
is insufficient evidence that Defendant’s Dubois’s level of involvement in the
November 21 disciplinary hearing constitutes an actionable due process claim. See
Howell v. O’Malley, No. 09–11407–DJC, 2011 WL 3563159, at *4 n.7 (D. Mass. Aug.
12, 2011) (finding corrections officer’s limited involvement in disciplinary hearing did
not constitute an actionable claim for a constitutional violation).
Defendant Slocum is not liable for similar reasons. Mr. Stile complains that
Defendant Slocum violated his due process rights by having Somerset County Jail fax
over Mr. Stile’s previous disciplinary findings and providing them to the disciplinary
board at Cumberland County. Defendant Slocum’s limited action of providing the
disciplinary board findings from another jail, especially as Defendant Slocum did not
serve on the disciplinary board, does not amount to an actionable due process claim.
Cf. Mutty v. Anderson, No. CV–08–178–B–W, 2009 WL 578550, at *5 (D. Me. Mar. 4,
2009) (finding that plaintiff’s deliberate indifference to medical needs claim
insufficient given that defendant corrections officer had “very little involvement” with
plaintiff’s subsequent medical treatment).
Defendants DelRossi and Young
Mr. Stile asserts that Defendant DelRossi violated his due process rights by
placing him in cell-A-224, which he states is known as the “suicide cell,” without basic
amenities and his legal papers. On November 16, 2012, Mr. Stile flooded his cell.
Defendant DelRossi was working in maximum security at the time and moved Mr.
Stile from his cell at approximately 1:50 p.m. and brought him back to his cell at 2:45
p.m. Mr. Stile was later given notice that the incident had been referred to the
disciplinary board along with a copy of the incident report and a copy of the
disciplinary board cover sheet, which outlined his procedural rights at the hearing.
Mr. Stile’s temporary relocation to another cell under these circumstances, even in
the light taken most favorable to him, does not amount to a violation of his due
process rights because the record does not establish that he was “punished” by this
temporary relocation even assuming the subpar conditions of that cell.
Supernant, 424 F.3d at 13 (citing Collazo-Leon, 51 F.3d at 318); Thompson v.
Cumberland Cnty. Sheriff, No. 2:13–CV–60–DBH, 2013 WL 5348088, at *3 (D. Me.
Sept. 23, 2013). Nor does such a temporary denial amount to cruel or unusual
punishment, especially since the record lacks any suggestion of deliberate
indifference by Defendant DelRossi. Burrell v. Hampshire County, 307 F.3d 1, 7 (1st
Cir. 2002); Giroux v. Somerset County, 178 F.3d 28, 31 (1st Cir. 1999). 28
Mr. Stile asserts that Defendant Young moved him from the seventy-two-hour
section of the jail to maximum security without a hearing and thereby violated his
Mr. Stile asserts that he was kept in this cell for “days” without the urinal being flushed, which
made the cell smell. However, he does not name the Defendants responsible for this condition, nor
whether this condition temporally relates to when he was moved by Defendant DelRossi.
procedural due process rights. Mr. Stile was moved from the seventy-hour section to
maximum security on November 6, 2012, because he made a threat. At the time of
this reclassification, Mr. Stile was serving disciplinary segregation.
Defendant Young did not transfer Mr. Stile on November 6, 2012, and had no
involvement in his reclassification. 29 Thus, the record is insufficient to show that
Defendant Young violated Mr. Stile’s procedural due process rights.
Right of Privacy
The parameters of an inmate’s right of privacy are murky.
Fourteenth Amendment includes a right against the disclosure of private information
is an unsettled and hotly debated question of law. Coughlin v. Town of Arlington, No.
10–10203–MLW, 2011 WL 6370932, at *13 (D. Mass. Dec. 19, 2011) (citing Nat'l
Aeronautics & Space Admin. v. Nelson, 131 S. Ct. 746, 764-65 (2011) (Scalia, J.,
The Supreme Court has held that prisoners have no reasonable
expectation of privacy with respect to searches and seizures of their effects. Hudson
v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526 (1984). In Hudson, the Supreme Court also found that
pretrial detainees have a diminished expectation of privacy during their
incarceration. Id. at 524 n.6 (citing Bell, 441 U.S. at 556-57).
The Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has yet to decide “whether prisoners
have a constitutional right to keep medical information private.”
Massachusetts Dept. of Correction, 766 F.3d 136, 144 (1st Cir. 2014) (noting, however,
Mr. Stile did not specifically allege this in his verified Complaint but raised it only during his
deposition. Even in taking the facts in the light most favorable to him, Mr. Stile’s allegations lack
clarity to link Defendant Young to the November 6 transfer.
that prisoners inherently have diminished privacy rights); see also Stow v. Grimaldi,
993 F.2d 1002 (1st Cir. 1993) (upholding a prison’s policy of inspecting prisoners’ nonprivilege outgoing mail given the prison’s security concerns and the policy’s minimal
interference with prisoners’ constitutional rights).
Mr. Stile asserts that Defendants Abrol and Pickreign violated his right to
privacy: Defendant Abrol by making a statement concerning Mr. Stile’s robbery
conviction, and Defendant Pickreign by looking at discovery photographs in his cell.
The Court is dubious of Mr. Stile’s claim that a statement to other inmates concerning
Mr. Stile’s conviction constitutes a violation of his right to privacy as the fact of Mr.
Stile’s conviction is not only a matter of public record, but is also publicly accessible.
Similarly, the Court is skeptical that Defendant Pickreign looking at discovery photos
in his cell constitutes a violation of his right of privacy given the penological interests
jails have in inspecting inmates’ cells.
The Court, however, need not decide whether either incident constitutes a
violation, because the Defendants are both entitled to qualified immunity. “Federal
courts have discretion to bypass the first step of the qualified immunity framework
and to focus instead on the second step.” Ford, 768 F.3d at 23 (1st Cir. 2014) (citing
Maldonado, 568 F.3d at 269-70). Here, because the contours of Mr. Stile’s right to
privacy, such as it may be, are not clear under these circumstances, the Court does
not conclude that Mr. Stile had a clearly established right to privacy to the fact of his
conviction and the discovery materials in his cell, and that an objectively reasonable
official in their position would have known their actions violated that right.
McKenney, 873 F.3d at 8. Thus, Defendants Abrol and Pickreign are entitled to
qualified immunity as to Mr. Stile’s violation of privacy claim.
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
A prisoner must exhaust the available administrative remedies before
initiating a lawsuit based on § 1983 or any other suit challenging prison conditions.
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) (“No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions . .
. by a prisoner . . . until such administrative remedies as are available are
exhausted”); see also Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 85 (2006) (“[E]xhaustion of
available administrative remedies is require for any suit challenging prison
conditions, not just for suits under § 1983.”). Exhaustion of administrative remedies
is mandatory under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199,
211 (2007). Exhaustion must be “proper,” meaning “a prisoner must complete the
administrative review process in accordance with the applicable procedural rules . . .
as a precondition to bringing suit in federal court.” Woodford, 548 U.S. at 88. Still,
“[a] prisoner need not exhaust remedies if they are not available. Ross v. Blake, 136
S. Ct. 1850, 1855 (2016). To be an available remedy, a grievance procedure must
actually apply to the type of claim at issue. Bean v. Barnhart, No. 1:13-cv-00196-NT,
2015 WL 3935777, at *5 (D. Me. June 26, 2015) (citing Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S 731,
736 n.4 (2001) and Malik v. D.C., 574 F.3d 781, 785 (D.C. Cir. 2009)). The Supreme
Court identified three circumstances where an administrative remedy may
technically be available but may not be used to obtain relief. Ross, 136 S. Ct. at
A defendant may raise the § 1997e exhaustion requirement as an affirmative
defense. Ramos v. Patnaude, 640 F.3d 485, 488 (1st Cir. 2011) (citing Jones, 549 U.S.
at 212). Defendants bear the burden of proof with this affirmative defense. Jones,
549 U.S. at 216. To satisfy this burden, defendants must establish “that there was
an available administrative remedy, and that the prisoner did not exhaust that
available remedy.” Scholefield v. Penobscot Cty. Jail, No. 1:17-cv-00230-GZS, 2018
WL 3626113, at *3 (D. Me. July 30, 2018) (quoting Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162,
1172 (9th Cir.)), report and recommendation adopted, 2018 WL 4214141 (D. Me. Sept.
4, 2018). If the defendants meet their burden, the plaintiff must then “come forward
with evidence showing that there is something in his particular case that made the
existing and generally available administrative remedies effectively unavailable to
him.” Albino, 747 F.3d at 1172.
Reclassification to maximum security
Mr. Stile argues that his due process rights were violated when he was
reclassified to maximum security on November 18, 2012 without a hearing. However,
Mr. Stile was reclassified on an emergency basis because he had made threats to
officers, continually threw things, smeared feces, and flooded his cell. Pursuant to
Policy D-130(A)(2), jail personnel may immediately place an inmate in a higher
One is where the administrative procedure is unattainable because “it operates as a simple
dead end—with officers unable or consistently unwilling to provide any relief to aggrieved inmates.”
Ross, 136 S. Ct. at 1859 (citation omitted). Second, where the administrative procedure is so vague
and unintelligible that it effectively becomes unusable. See id. Lastly, where prison officials, by
misrepresentation or intimidation, for example, prevent inmates from using it. See id. at 1860.
security setting if that inmate poses a clear and present danger to the safety and
security of the jail.
Mr. Stile was given notice of this reclassification and his
reclassification was reviewed two times before he left the Cumberland County Jail,
and both times his classification was maintained as maximum security. Mr. Stile did
not seek to review his classification once placed in maximum security.
In his Complaint, however, Mr. Stile asserts that after November 5, 2012,
unnamed Defendants refused to give him grievances to file. Mr. Stile also states he
was able to obtain grievances from other inmates and file them. 31
establishes that the jail did receive Mr. Stile’s grievances for November and
December of 2012, but there were no grievances pertaining to his assault by Mr.
Lester, to the Defendants’ failure to adequately protect him, or to Mr. Stile’s
reclassification. Reviewing Mr. Stile’s verified complaint as an affidavit equivalent,
because he asserts corrections officers refused to provide him with grievances after
November 5, a reasonable jury could conclude that this constitutes a technically
available remedy, which could not be used to obtain relief. Ross, 136 S. Ct. at 1860.
Mr. Stile does not identify the responsible Defendants for the alleged
constitutional violation stemming from his reclassification nor does he state which
Defendants refused to provide him grievances in his Complaint, however.
Defendants state Lieutenant William Brady was the corrections officer responsible
for reclassifying Mr. Stile. At the time of this order, as far as the Court can discern
from the record, Mr. Stile has not attempted to serve Mr. Brady, although he has
Mr. Stile also asserts that on November 25, 2012, an unnamed corrections officer put one of
his grievances in toilet water.
made multiple attempts at amending his complaint. “A district court otherwise
prepared to act on dispositive motions is not obligated to wait indefinitely for [the
plaintiff] to take steps to identify and . . . serve unknown defendants.” Figueroa, 147
F.3d at 83 (internal quotations omitted) (quoting Glaros v. Perse, 628 F.2d 679, 685
(1st Cir. 1980)); see also Joslin v. Hampshire Cty. House of Corrections, No. 11-30175KPN, 2013 WL 2247499, at *6-7 (D. Mass. Feb. 28, 2013). As a result, the Court
dismisses without prejudice Mr. Stile’s due process violation claim from his
Failure to prevent assault by Mr. Lester
While at Cumberland County Jail, Mr. Stile filed various grievances, but the
record does not show that he filed any grievances concerning the assault by Mr.
Lester, other inmates, or corrections officers.
Under the Inmate Handbook, an
inmate may file a grievance stemming from an alleged violation of civil,
constitutional, or statutory rights or of a policy, an alleged criminal or prohibited act
by a staff member, or to resolve a condition existing within the jail that creates unsafe
or unsanitary living conditions. If an inmate is not satisfied with how their grievance
is handled initially, the Inmate Handbook provides for subsequent appeal procedures.
Mr. Stile’s assault and his allegations that corrections officers failed to prevent
it, fall under the jail’s available grievance policy. Pursuant to the PLRA, Mr. Stile
had to properly exhaust his available administrative remedies. The record does not
establish either that Mr. Stile filed any grievances or that he appealed all his
available administrative remedies concerning his assault or the corrections officers’
alleged failure to prevent it. As noted above, however, Mr. Stile asserts corrections
officers refused to provide him with grievances, and in the Court’s view, a reasonable
jury could conclude that requiring Mr. Stile to go through other inmates to obtain
these grievances because he was otherwise refused by corrections officers constitutes
a technically available remedy, which could not be used to obtain relief. Ross, 136 S.
Ct. at 1860. Thus, given that he identified specific individuals, the Court does not
dismiss Mr. Stile’s failure to prevent assault claim without prejudice. But as will be
discussed, the Court grants Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on other
Denial of Legal Materials and to Effective Assistance of
The right of prisoners to reasonable, effective access to the courts is firmly
established. Ferranti v. Moran, 618 F.2d 888, 891 (1st Cir. 1980). “The right of access
is a discrete, constitutional right, derived from various constitutional sources . . . .”
Simmons v. Dickhaut, 804 F.2d 182, 183 (1st Cir. 1986) (per curiam) (citations
omitted). A prisoner’s right to access the courts, however, requires a showing of
actual injury to that right. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 349 (1996). It is not enough
for an inmate to “establish that his prison's law library or legal assistance program
is subpar in some theoretical sense.” Id. at 351. The right of access to the courts
“only ‘requires prison authorities to assist inmates in the preparation and filing of
meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or
adequate assistance from persons trained in the law.’” Cookish v. Rouleau, No. Civ.
02-526-B, 2004 WL 443208, at *4 (D.N.H. Mar. 11, 2004) (quoting Bounds v. Smith,
430 U.S. 817, 828 (1977)). “Even if a prison regulation, policy or practice hinders a
prisoner's ability to access the courts, it may be upheld if what is challenged bears a
rational relationship to legitimate penological interests.” Graham v. Cattell, No. CV02-377-PB, 2005 WL 67065, at *2 (D.N.H. Jan. 12, 2005) (citing Overton v. Bazzetta,
539 U.S. 126, 132 (2003)).
Mr. Stile has not shown that his denial to certain legal materials, or the
treatment of certain legal mail, constituted an actual injury in violation of his
constitutional right to access the courts or to effective counsel. Mr. Stile stresses that
he subsequently dismissed his federal class action § 1983 suit (2:12-cv-260-JAW)
because he did not have access to law books or the legal computer. In Casey, the
Supreme Court provided that “a complaint  dismissed for failure to satisfy a
technical requirement which, because of deficiencies in the prison's legal assistance
facilities, he could not have known, or an allegation that a prisoner was unable to
bring an action to court due to the inadequacies in the law library[,]” as an example
of an actual injury. 518 U.S. at 351. The record does not indicate that Mr. Stile
suffered an actual injury, however.
Rather, the case cited by Mr. Stile was
recommended for dismissal by a Magistrate Judge of this District, and this Court
affirmed the recommendation. R & R Decision (ECF No. 36 - 2:12-cv-00260-JAW);
Order Affirming the Recommended Decision of the Magistrate Judge (ECF No. 39 2:12-cv-00260-JAW).
In that case, Mr. Stile, along with another inmate, filed a § 1983 suit against
the Cumberland County Jail and others on August 30, 2012. Compl. (ECF No. 1 -
2:12-cv-00260-JAW) (Pl.’s previous Compl.). On January 8, 2013, the Defendants
moved to dismiss Mr. Stile’s claims. Mot. to Dismiss (ECF No. 25 - 2:12-cv-00260JAW). Mr. Stile filed a response in opposition to motion to dismiss on February 8,
2013, and Defendants replied on March 8, 2013. Resp. in Opp’n to Mot. to Dismiss
(ECF No. 34 - 2:12-cv-00260-JAW); Reply to Resp. to Mot. to Dismiss (ECF No. 35 2:12-cv-00260-JAW).
On March 26, 2013, a Magistrate Judge recommended
dismissal of Mr. Stile’s lawsuit, to which there was no objection, and the Court
affirmed that recommended decision on May 6, 2013. R & R Decision (ECF No. 36 2:12-cv-00260-JAW); Order Affirming the Recommended Decision of the Magistrate
Judge (ECF No. 39 - 2:12-cv-00260-JAW).
Mr. Stile has directed the Court’s attention to his previous case before this
Court. The Court may take judicial notice of these prior proceedings. FED. RUL. EVID.
201(b); E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Cullen, 791 F.2d 5, 7 (1st Cir. 1986). Mr.
Stile did not dismiss his previous case against Cumberland County; the Court
dismissed it for failure to state a claim.
As the Magistrate Judge noted in
recommending dismissing his access to the courts claim, Mr. Stile “never alleges that
he has suffered any personal consequence to his own ongoing litigation, has been
unable to meet filing deadlines, has otherwise been unable to get his pleadings
accepted by any court, or has had his right to communicate with his defense counsel
compromised.” R & R Decision at 10 (ECF No. 36 - 2:12-cv-00260-JAW). Here, the
record is insufficient to show that Mr. Stile has suffered an actual injury. See Lewis,
518 U.S. at 360; Boivin v. Black, 225 F.3d 36, 42 (1st Cir. 2000). Mr. Stile’s assertions
concerning his legal mail and being prevented from calling his attorney on one
occasion fail for the same reasons as his claims relating to his access to legal materials
because he failed to show that these alleged actions caused him an actual injury. 32
The Court grants Defendants’ motion for summary judgment as to Mr. Stile’s access
to the courts claim. 33
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
The Eighth Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments.” U.S.
CONST. amend. VIII. It is well established that “the treatment a prisoner receives in
prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under
the Eighth Amendment.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832 (quoting Helling v. McKinney, 509
U.S. 25, 31 (1993)).
“Pretrial detainees are protected under the Fourteenth
Amendment Due Process Clause rather than the Eighth Amendment; however, the
standard to be applied is the same as that used in Eighth Amendment cases.” Burrell,
307 F.3d at 7.
“Prison officials have a duty to ‘provide humane conditions of confinement
[meaning,] prison officials must ensure that inmates receive adequate food . . . and
must ‘take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates.’” Giroux, 178
F.3d at 31 (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832 (quoting Hudson, 468 U.S. at 526-27)).
The Defendants admit that Defendants Stotts and Renna may have accidently dropped Mr.
Stile’s mail on the floor when it was wet. However, Mr. Stile has failed to show this prevented him
from bringing a legal claim.
Mr. Stile claims he was denied effective assistance of counsel, because on November 15, 2012,
he was unable to see the private investigator hired to assist in his criminal case, Compl. ¶ 30. The
Court concludes this is barred because it calls into question his underlying criminal conviction, which
has not been nullified. See Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87; Hinds v. Pepe, No. 15-cv-10073-LTS, 2016 WL
1643742, at *7 (D. Mass. Apr. 25, 2016).
When an inmate makes a prison-conditions type of claim in violation of the Eight
Amendment, he must show “that he is incarcerated under conditions posing a
substantial risk of serious harm . . . [and] [s]econd, the official involved must have
had ‘a sufficiently culpable state of mind.’” Id. at 32 (citations omitted); see also
Parlin v. Cumberland Cty., 659 F. Supp. 2d 201, 208 (D. Me. 2009) (“There is an
objective and subjective component to the deliberate indifference inquiry.”). The
prison official’s culpable state of mind is often referred to as “deliberate indifference,”
meaning the “official subjectively must both be aware of facts from which the
inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must
also draw the inference.” Burrell, 307 F.3d at 8 (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837).
Failure to prevent assault by Mr. Lester
Corrections officers have a duty to protect prisoners from the violence of other
prisoners. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 833 (citing Cortes–Quinones v. Jimenez–Nettleship,
842 F.2d 556, 558 (1st Cir. 1988)). Defendants do not dispute this duty. However,
they argue that Defendants Purinton, Logan, and Young did not act with deliberate
indifference to Mr. Lester’s assault of Mr. Stile. Specifically, Defendants argue that
Mr. Stile provided no evidence that Defendants Purinton, Logan, and Young
subjectively thought Mr. Stile was going to be assaulted or that he felt threatened by
The Court agrees. Taking the facts in the light most favorable to Mr. Stile, a
reasonable factfinder could not conclude that the Defendants acted with deliberate
indifference to Mr. Stile. Mr. Stile had not previously informed correctional officers
that he thought Mr. Lester or other inmates would assault him or that he felt
threatened by Mr. Lester or any inmates before the assault on November 29, 2012.
Nor had Mr. Stile requested to be placed in protective custody. That Defendant
Purinton was seen whispering beforehand, without more, is insufficient to show that
Defendants acted with deliberate indifference. There is no evidence on this record
that the Defendants were aware of facts from which they could have drawn the
conclusion that Mr. Stile was subject to a substantial risk of harm from Mr. Lester or
other inmates. The Court grants Defendants’ motion as it pertains to Mr. Stile’s claim
of cruel and unusual punishment in failing to prevent his assault.
Denial and handling of food
Defendants claim Mr. Stile’s assertions of being denied meals and the handling
of his food and beverages are limited and insufficient to survive the motion. “Cruel
and unusual punishment consists of the denial of ‘the minimal civilized measure of
life's necessities’ assessed based on the contemporary standard of decency.” Ruffin v.
Hinkley, No. 2:17-cv-00151-NT, 2017 WL 3670659, at *3 (D. Me. Aug. 25, 2017)
(internal citations omitted) (citing Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981)),
report and recommendation adopted, 2017 WL 4381674 (D. Me. Oct. 2, 2017). The
First Circuit previously “affirmed the dismissal of an Eighth Amendment claim based
on the denial of five meals, not in succession, observing that ‘occasionally missing a
meal is entirely consistent with the realities of modern life.’” Id. (internal quotations
omitted) (quoting Barnett v. Commissioner, 187 F.3d 621, 1999 WL 529458, at *2 (1st
Cir. June 17, 1999) (unpublished table opinion)).
The Court is unconvinced that Mr. Stile’s claims regarding the denial and
handling of some of his meals as well as Defendant Phillips’ handling of his cup
amount to cruel or unusual punishment or another constitutional violation.
Defendants note, Mr. Stile has not alleged he was denied multiple meals over
consecutive days and has not produced evidence to that effect. Mr. Stile did not
previously complain to Defendant Phillips about how he handled his cup and did not
request another cup from Defendant Phillips.
There is also no evidence that
Defendants Logan, Young, Stotts, or Phillips were deliberately indifferent to Mr. Stile
insofar as being aware of him allegedly missing meals so as to know that a substantial
risk of serious harm exists.
Mr. Stile has failed to supply “enough competent
[genuine] evidence to enable a factfinder to decide in [his] favor [on these claims.]”
Carroll v. Xerox Corp., 294 F.3d 231, 237 (1st Cir. 2002) (citation and internal
The theory of respondeat superior is inapplicable for holding government
officials liable for the unconstitutional actions of their subordinates.
Pereira-Castillo, 590 F.3d 31, 49 (1st Cir. 2009) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 676 (2009)). Instead, supervisory officials may be held liable “if the plaintiff can
establish that h[is] constitutional injury resulted from the direct acts or omissions of
the official, or from indirect conduct that amounts to condonation or tacit
authorization.” Rodriguez-Garcia v. Miranda-Marin, 610 F.3d 756, 768 (1st Cir.
2010) (citing Rodriguez-Garcia v. Municipality of Caguas, 495 F.3d 1, 10 (1st Cir.
2007)). In § 1983 actions,
[Supervisor liability] typically arises in one of two ways: either the
supervisor may be a ‘primary violator or direct participant in the rightsviolating incident,’ or liability may attach ‘if a responsible official
supervises, trains, or hires a subordinate with deliberate indifference
toward the possibility that deficient performance of the task eventually
may contribute to a civil rights deprivation.’
Sanchez, 590 F.3d at 49 (quoting Camilo-Robles v. Zapata, 175 F.3d 34, 44 (1st Cir.
Either way, “the plaintiff must show that the official had actual or
constructive notice of the constitutional violation.” Feliciano-Hernandez v. PereiraCastillo, 663 F.3d 527, 533 (1st Cir. 2011) (quoting Rodriguez-Garica, 610 F.3d at
768). Thus, “plaintiffs [must] show: (1) that the officials had knowledge of facts, from
which (2) the officials can draw the inference (3) that a substantial risk of serious
harm exists.” Ramirez-Lluveras v. Rivera-Merced, 759 F.3d 10, 20 (1st Cir. 2014)
(citation and internal quotations omitted).
Outside deliberate indifference requirements, a plaintiff “also must show
causation” for a supervisor liability claim. Camilo-Robles, 151 F.3d at 7 (citing
Maldonado-Denis v. Castillo-Rodriguez, 23 F.3d 576, 582 (1st Cir. 1994)). “In other
words, the plaintiff must affirmatively connect the supervisor's conduct to the
subordinate's violative act or omission.” Id. at 7 (citation and internal quotations
omitted). “The showing of causation must be a strong one, as that requirement
contemplates proof that the supervisor's conduct led inexorably to the constitutional
Ramirez-Lluveras, 759 F.3d at 19 (citation omitted) (emphasis in
Mr. Stile alleges that Defendant Joyce is liable in a supervisory capacity for
the alleged constitutional violations that took place at his disciplinary hearings on
November 21, 2012. Defendants counter that Defendant Joyce had no involvement
in Mr. Stile’s disciplinary hearings at the Cumberland County Jail and no prior
knowledge of the procedures at those hearings.
Mr. Stile failed to provide sufficient evidence that Defendant Joyce had actual
or constructive notice of these alleged constitutional violations, either directly or
indirectly, let alone any evidence connecting Defendant Joyce in his supervisory role
to the alleged violative acts of the corrections officers at the Cumberland County Jail.
See id. at 20 (quoting Maldonado–Denis, 23 F.3d at 582 (providing causation could be
established via proof of a “known history of widespread abuse sufficient to alert a
supervisor to ongoing violations”).
Defendants’ argument in regard to Mr. Stile’s claim of supervisor liability for
Defendant Breton tracks their argument for Defendant Joyce as they contend
Defendant Breton had no knowledge of the procedures being used at the November
21, 2012 hearing, and no knowledge of Mr. Stile being placed in intake or allegedly
being denied computer access. The record supports the Defendants’ contentions.
Defendant Breton, as a Cumberland County Sheriff's Department jail administrator,
lacked knowledge of any facts from which she could draw an inference that there was
a substantial risk of serious harm relating to constitutional violations Mr. Stile
alleges. Mr. Stile failed to supply competent and specific evidence that Defendant
Breton’s supervisory “conduct led inexorably to [his claimed] constitutional
violations.” See id. at 19 (citation omitted) (emphasis in original). The Court grants
Defendants’ motion for summary judgment as it pertains to Mr. Stile’s supervisor
In § 1983 suits, “municipalities can be liable for constitutional violations only
if the violation occurs pursuant to an official policy or custom.” That is, plaintiff must
have suffered harm as a result of a constitutional violation, which the municipality
is responsible for. Monnell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 691, (1978);
see also Young v. City of Providence ex rel. Napolitano, 404 F.3d 4, 26 (1st Cir. 2005).
In Monnell, the Supreme Court held that “a local government may not be sued under
§ 1983 for an injury inflicted solely by its employees or agents.” 436 U.S. at 658.
Counties are considered government entities. See McInnis v. Maine, 638 F.3d 18, 22
n.4 (1st Cir. 2011). “A plaintiff can establish the existence of an official policy by
showing that the alleged constitutional injury was caused by a formal decision of a
municipal legislative body . . . or by a person with final policymaking authority.”
Welch v. Ciampa, 542 F.3d 927, 941 (1st Cir. 2008). More exactly, a plaintiff must
show (1) that the municipality adopted a policy or custom that evidenced a “deliberate
indifference” to the constitutional rights of the claimant, and (2) that this policy or
custom was the cause of, and moving force behind, the plaintiff’s alleged
constitutional injury. See Rodriguez-Garcia, 610 F.3d at 769 (quoting Welch, 542
F.3d at 941); see also Cady v. Cumberland Cty. Jail, No. 2:10–cv–00512–NT, 2013 WL
3967486, at *34 (D. Me. Aug. 1, 2013).
Mr. Stile’s allegations mirror a typical municipal liability claim as he claims
Cumberland County and Defendant Joyce failed to correct various unconstitutional
actions by the corrections officers. Defendants argue that there is no evidence that
any of the policies at Cumberland County Jail are unconstitutional or that Defendant
Joyce, in his capacity as final decision-maker, had actual or constructive knowledge
of pervasive unconstitutional practices.
The Court agrees. “Municipal liability is not vicarious.” Estate of Bennett v.
Wainwright, 548 F.3d 155 (1st Cir. 2008). Defendant Joyce denied any personal
knowledge of the type of misconduct that Mr. Stile alleges.
Mr. Stile has not
established that any of the alleged unlawful practices were extensive or so wellentrenched that constructive knowledge may be imputed on Defendant Joyce. See
Bordanaro v. McLeod, 871 F.2d 1151, 1156 (1st Cir. 1989) (a municipal practice “must
be so well settled and widespread that the policymaking officials of the municipality
can be said to have either actual or constructive knowledge of it yet did nothing to
end the practice”).
Moreover, Mr. Stile has not identified any written policies that
in themselves violated his constitutional rights. In contrast, Defendants produced
written policies touching on Mr. Stile’s claims, all of which the staff at Cumberland
County Jail are required to review and be knowledgeable and conversant about. A
review of material facts indicates compliance with these policies.
In short, the
summary judgment record in this case fails to establish a genuine issue of material
fact as to Cumberland County’s liability as a municipality, and the Court grants
Defendants’ motion on this claim.
State Law Tort Claims
The MTCA requires that a claimant must file against a governmental entity a
written notice of claim within 180 days after the cause of action accrues. 14 M.R.S. §
8107(1). When the claim is against a political subdivision, or one of its employees,
the Maine Tort Claims Act requires that the notice “shall be addressed to and filed
with one of the persons upon whom a summons and complaint could be served under
the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4, in a civil action against a political
subdivision.” Id. § 8107(3)(B). Notice is required so as to “enable the governmental
entity to investigate and evaluate claims for purposes of defense or settlement.”
Pepperman v. Barrett, 661 A.2d 1124, 1126 (Me. 1995) (citing Faucher v. City of
Auburn, 465 A.2d 1120, 1123 (Me. 1983)).
A plaintiff’s notice of claim may be filed outside the 180-day requirement on
the showing of “good cause;” however, the good cause exception is a narrow one.
Beaulieu v. Aube Corp., 2002 ME 79, ¶ 19, 796 A.2d 683; see also Porter v. PhilbrickGates, 2000 ME 35, ¶ 4, 745 A.2d 996 (good cause means “unable to file a claim or
was meaningfully prevented from learning of the information forming the basis for
his or her complaint”). A cause of action, for the purposes of the 180-day notice of
claim period, begins when the plaintiff suffers a judicially cognizable injury. Porter,
2000 ME 25, ¶ 4, 745 A.2d 996 (citing 14 M.R.S. § 8107(1)); Cottle Enters., Inc. v.
Town of Farmington, 1997 ME 78, ¶ 15, 693 A.2d 330). Notice of claims against an
employee of a “political subdivision” must be addressed to “one of the persons upon
whom a summons and complaint could be served under the Maine Rules of Civil
Procedure, Rule 4.” 14 M.R.S. § 8107(3). 34
All governmental entities are immune from suit on tort claims seeking
damages unless a statutory exception is applicable. See 14 M.R.S. §§ 8103(1), 8104–
A & 8116. Under section 8116, if “a municipality has obtained insurance for tort
claims against it, the municipality is liable to the limits of the insurance coverage.”
“[T]he governmental entity against whom a claim is made bears the burden of
establishing that it does not have insurance coverage for that claim.” Danforth v.
Gottardi, 667 A.2d 847, 848 (Me. 1995). The MTCA also provides various means in
which government employees may be absolutely immune from personal civil liability.
See generally id. § 8111(1).
Mr. Stile alleges that Defendants Joyce, Panenka, Leblanc, Bisson, and Breton
slandered him by wrongfully convicting or contributing to his conviction at the
November 21, 2012 disciplinary hearing. Defendants argue that Cumberland County
is shielded under general immunity pursuant to the MTCA and there are no
The notice must include:
A. The name and address of the claimant, and the name and address of the
claimant’s attorney or other representative, if any;
B. A concise statement of the basis of the claim, including the date, time, place
and circumstances of the act, omission or occurrence complained of;
C. The name and address of any governmental employee involved, if known;
D. A concise statement of the nature and extent of the injury claimed to have
been suffered; and
E. A statement of the amount of monetary damages claimed.
14 M.R.S. § 8107(1).
applicable exceptions to waive that immunity. Defendants further assert that Mr.
Stile failed to properly comply with notice of claim provisions of the MTCA.
Defendants argue that the individual Defendants named are entitled discretionary
immunity, or in the alternative, intentional act immunity.
The Cumberland County Jail is a governmental entity covered under the
MTCA and the individual Defendants are government employees. Parlin, 659 F.
Supp. 2d at 213. The County has not waived its immunity through its insurance
policy given that its policy specifically limits coverage to only those areas for which
governmental immunity is waived under the MTCA. Failure to provide proper notice
under the MTCA bars the claim. Deschenes v. City of Sanford, 2016 ME 56, ¶ 12, 137
A.3d 198; see also id. ¶ 13 (quoting Erickson v. State, 444 A.2d 345, 349 (Me. 1982))
(“[T]he substantial compliance exception is applicable only when the 180–day
requirement of § 8107(1) is satisfied.”).
Mr. Stile was at the Cumberland County Jail from January 30, 2012 to
January 15, 2013. The alleged slander took place on November 21, 2012. As the
Court understands it, December 12, 2012 was the last date Mr. Stile is making any
claims relating to his incarceration at the Cumberland County Jail. Cumberland
County Jail and its employees did not receive notice of Mr. Stile’s claims until October
of 2014, well outside the 180-day filing period. Even if Mr. Stile suffered a judicially
cognizable injury on January 15, 2013 -- his last day of incarceration at Cumberland
County--Mr. Stile did not timely provide notice of his claim. Nor has Mr. Stile
established good cause for why he filed outside the statutory period. The Defendants
are entitled to summary judgment on Mr. Stile’s slander claim. See Rodrigues v.
Joyce, 693 F. Supp. 1250, 1252 (D. Me. 1988).
Mr. Stile complains that his assessed days of disciplinary segregation for major
violations, premised on repeated violations of minor violations, and serving discipline
from another jail, constitutes a violation of Double Jeopardy. “[J]eopardy describes
the risk that is traditionally associated with a criminal prosecution.” Breed v. Jones,
421 U.S. 519, 528 (1975).
Double Jeopardy protections are inapplicable to jail
disciplinary hearings because there are fundamental differences between such
hearings and criminal trials. See Street, 1993 WL 93134, at *4 (citing Langston, 667
F.2d at 234-35); Trythall v. O’Mara, No. 11-cv-458-JD, 2012 WL 1216270, at *4 n.3
(D.N.H. Mar. 29, 2012). The Court grants Defendants’ motion for summary judgment
as it pertains to Mr. Stile’s Double Jeopardy claims.
The Court DISMISSES without prejudice, Plaintiff’s claims in paragraphs 17,
19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 31, 33, and 41 of his Complaint (ECF No. 1).
The Court DISMISSES without prejudice, Defendants’ Motion for Judgment
on the Pleadings (ECF No. 204).
The Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendants’ Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 204). The Court DENIES Defendants’ Motion for
summary judgment as to Mr. Stile’s procedural due process violation claim against
Defendants Paneka, Bisson, and Leblanc. The Court GRANTS Defendants’ motion
for summary judgment in all other respects.
/s/ John A. Woodcock, Jr.
JOHN A. WOODCOCK, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 28th day of September, 2018
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