United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
Todd, pro se.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
K. Johnstone, United States Magistrate Judge.
Khamin Todd, an African American inmate at the Northern New
Hampshire Correctional Facility (“NCF”), has
filed a complaint (Doc. No. 1) alleging racial harassment and
discrimination. The matter is before the court for
preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and LR
4.3 (d) (1).
court conducts a preliminary review of prisoner complaints
filed in forma pauperis. See LR 4.3(d)(1); see also
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 (e) (2), 1915A. The court
construes pro se complaints liberally. See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). In
considering whether the complaint states a claim, the court
determines whether, stripped of legal conclusions, and with
all reasonable inferences construed in plaintiff's favor,
the complaint contains “sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief'” upon which relief can be granted.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(citation omitted). Claims may be dismissed, sua sponte, if,
among other things, the court lacks jurisdiction, a defendant
is immune from the relief sought, or the complaint fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915 (e) (2), 1915A (b) (1); LR 4.3 (d) (1) (A).
asserts that while working in the NCF Kitchen on September 8,
2018, he approached NCF Chef Sol to ask if Todd could be
promoted or assigned to a different prison kitchen job. Sol
told Todd that he would have to work like “Kunta
Kinte” in that new position. Todd considered Sol's
reference to Kunta Kinte, the African slave, captured and
beaten in Alex Haley's Roots, to be racist, offensive,
and humiliating. Todd obtained witness statements of other
inmates in October 2018, corroborating Todd's description
of Sol's comments and reporting that Sol had made other
racist comments in the past. See Oct. 9, 2018 Statement of
Aaron Bonds (Doc. No. 1-1, at 1); Oct. 25, 2018 Statement of
James Beverly (Doc. No. 1-1, at 2). When Todd reported what
Sol had said to Corrections Officer Snyder, Snyder told Todd
he should not return to the kitchen until the incident was
resolved. See Sept. 10, 2018 Inmate Request Slip
(“IRS”) (Doc. No. 1-1, at 3). Todd alleged he
suffered emotional distress and had trouble sleeping because
of the incident. Sept. 11, 2018 Grievance (Doc. No. 1-1, at
complained to Sol's NCF Kitchen supervisor Joe Pelletier
after the incident. Pelletier offered Todd the opportunity to
work a different shift in the kitchen, but Todd declined,
explaining that he could not see himself working where racist
comments are displayed and racism takes place. Sept. 11, 2018
Grievance (Doc. No. 1-1, at 5). An exhibit attached to the
complaint indicates that Todd was placed on “No Job
Available Status” on September 24, 2018, “due to
reasons other than disciplinary or being threatening to
institutional security.” N.H. Dep't of Corr.,
Placement on Reduced Pay or No. Job Available Status (Doc.
No. 1-1, at 7).
submitted an IRS about Sol's remark, followed by a
grievance to Warden Riendeau in September 2018. See Sept. 10,
2018 IRS (Doc. No. 1-1, at 3); Sept. 11, 2018 Grievance (Doc.
No. 1-1, at 5). Riendeau responded to Todd's
administrative complaints by stating that Riendeau had
confirmed that NCF staff member Director Hanson was aware of
the incident and would investigate the matter further, in
connection with Hanson's supervisory responsibilities
over the NCF Kitchen. See Sept. 19, 2018 Response (Doc. No.
1-1, at 3).
complaint asserts the following claims for damages under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 and state law:
1. Chef Sol violated Todd's Fourteenth Amendment right to
equal protection, in that Sol responded to Todd's request
for a new job by making a humiliating racist remark, saying
Todd could have or hold that new position only if Todd worked
as hard as Kunta Kinte, rendering Sol liable under §
2. Defendant Warden Riendeau violated Todd's Fourteenth
Amendment right to equal protection by failing to prevent or
respond adequately to Sol's use of racist remarks in the
NCF Kitchen, rendering Riendeau liable under § 1983.
3. Defendants are liable for damages for tortious conduct