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Palo v. Dionne

United States District Court, First Circuit

August 29, 2013

Jacob E. Palo
v.
David Dionne, Superintendent, Hillsborough County Department of Corrections

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

LANDYA McCAFFERTY, Magistrate Judge.

Before the court is Jacob Palo's complaint (doc. no. 1) and addenda thereto (doc. nos. 4 and 7), asserting that defendant David Dionne, the Superintendent of the Hillsborough County House of Corrections ("HCHC"), violated Palo's constitutional rights during Palo's pretrial incarceration at that facility.[1] The matter is before the court for preliminary review to determine, among other things, whether the complaint states any claim upon which relief might be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a); LR 4.3(d)(2).

Standard of Review

Pursuant to LR 4.3(d)(2) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the magistrate judge conducts a preliminary review of pro se in forma pauperis complaints before defendants have an opportunity to respond to the claims. The magistrate judge may direct service of the complaint, or, as appropriate, recommend to the district judge that one or more claims be dismissed if: the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, a defendant is immune from the relief sought, the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the allegation of poverty is untrue, or the action is frivolous or malicious. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); LR 4.3(d)(2).

In determining whether a pro se complaint states a claim, the court must construe the complaint liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus , 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). To survive preliminary review, the complaint must contain "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" See Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). To determine plausibility, the court treats as true all well-pleaded factual allegations, and construes all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom in the plaintiff's favor. See Ocasio-Hernández v. Fortuño-Burset , 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011). Applying this standard, the court addresses each of Palo's claims below.

Discussion

I. Access to the Courts

Palo complains that he has not been given "hands on" access to the law library and must instead request specific materials from the library. He complains that jail officials might have gained access to his confidential defense strategy in his criminal case due to their knowledge of his legal research.

A claim of insufficient law library access is cognizable, if at all, as a claim for the denial of an inmate's First Amendment right to meaningful access to the courts. To state such a claim, plaintiff must demonstrate that the legal resources available to him were inadequate to meet his need to conduct legal research, and that his legal status was harmed by the deprivation of adequate legal materials. See Christopher v. Harbury , 536 U.S. 403, 413 (2002) (citing Lewis v. Casey , 518 U.S. 343, 351 (1996)).

Here, Palo states no facts indicating that any criminal or civil litigation in which he was involved was negatively impacted by the restrictions imposed on his law library access. Accordingly, Palo's law library claim should be dismissed.

II. Inadequate Nutrition

Palo alleges that he was denied adequate nutrition at the HCHC. As a result, Palo states that he lost thirty pounds in approximately three months, and sometimes felt faint and dizzy.

A prison inmate may assert a cause of action for the denial of adequate nutrition where such a deprivation creates a serious risk of harm to an inmate. See Foster v. Runnels , 554 F.3d 807, 814 (9th Cir. 2009); Feliciano v. Burset, No. 79-4(PG), 2010 WL 4922700, *17 (D.P.R. Dec. 2, 2010) (inadequate nutrition may be demonstrated by inadequate quantity of food) (collecting cases). Palo has not alleged facts to demonstrate that the food provided was either nutritionally inadequate or insufficient in amount. Palo's allegations of weight loss and dizziness, without more, fail to demonstrate that he has been exposed to a ...


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