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Odom v. Meko

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

July 9, 2013

GLENN D. ODOM, II, Plaintiff,
JOSEPH P. MEKO, et al., Defendants.


HENRY R. WILHOIT, Jr., District Judge.

Plaintiff Glenn D. Odom, II, is an inmate confined in the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville, Kentucky. Proceeding without an attorney, Odom has filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights complaint alleging that in January 2012, officials of the Little Sandy Correctional Complex ("LSCC") in Sandy Hook, Kentucky, where he was confined at the time, applied excessive force to him, were thereafter deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, and violated his right guaranteed under several other federal statutes.[1] [D. E. No. 1; amended at D. E. No. 10]

The Court must conduct a preliminary review of Odom's complaint because he has been allowed to pay the filing fee in installments and is asserting claims against government officials. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A. A district court must dismiss any claims that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from defendants who are immune from such relief. McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 607-08 (6th Cir. 1997).

The Court evaluates Odom's complaint under a more lenient standard because he is not represented by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Burton v. Jones, 321 F.3d 569, 573 (6th Cir. 2003). At this stage, the Court accepts Odom's factual allegations as true, and liberally construes his legal claims in his favor. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Having reviewed the complaint, the Court will grant Odom's motion to amend his original complaint, permit some of Odom's claims to proceed, and dismiss other claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.


Odom states that on January 13, 2012, he slit his wrists by making a "Y"-shaped incision and that as punishment for his suicide attempt, LSCC Sergeant "Barker" directed the LSCC Cell Extraction Team to handcuff him behind his back- without double locking the handcuffs-and place him in a restraint chair. [D. E. No. 1, p. 2] Odom claims that the CET's failure to employ the double lock mechanism in the handcuffs caused them to tighten unnecessarily and cut into his wrists, causing him to experience significant pain and suffering. [ Id. ]

Odom further alleges that an LSCC nurse, identified only as "Faith, " failed to ensure that the handcuffs were not too tight and "...walked off like nothing was wrong, " and that she, and another unidentified Second Shift LPN, ignored his medical needs. [ Id., p. 3, 12] Odom claims that as a result of the above actions, he experienced pain and suffering, and has sustained permanent bodily injuries, which he identifies as "numbness, prickly feelings, and tingling sensations upon standing from sleep or laying horizontally, " and "blood flow problems/circulation problem from this torture." [ Id., 15] Odom states that he submitted grievances to LSCC Warden Meko and KDOC Commissioner Thompson complaining about the alleged excessive force and deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, but that both Meko and Thompson upheld the allegedly unconstitutional practices. [ Id. ]

Odom alleges that the manner in which the CET applied the handcuffs to him behinds his back and then placed him in the restraint chair constituted excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which forbids and cruel and unusual punishment. Odom further alleges that by allowing the handcuffs to cut into his self-inflicted wrist incisions, the LSCC nurses were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Odom also filed a motion to amend his complaint to include additional medical reports, [D. E. No. 10], which motion the Court will grant.

In addition to his Eighth Amendment claims, Odom alleges that the defendants violated (1) Title 42 U.S.C. 10801 et seq., "Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill. Individuals;" (2) Title 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"); (3) Title 29 U.S.C. § 794, "Nondiscrimination under Federal grants and programs, " but better known as the Rehabilitation Act ("RA") of 1973; and (4) Title 42 U.S. C §§ 1985(3), "Conspiracy to interfere with civil rights."[2] [ Id., p. 4]

Odom seeks a declaration that the defendants violated his various federal rights; an injunction directing the LSCC nurses, Meko, and Thompson to acknowledge that the treatment to which he was allegedly subjected was unconstitutional and tortious; compensatory damages of $25, 000 from the members of the CET, the unknown LSCC nurse, and Sergeant Barker; unspecified punitive damages; his attorneys fees and court costs; and any other relief to which he is entitled. [ Id., p. 8]


1. Official Capacity Claims asserted under § 1983

To the extent that Odom may be asserting claims against the defendants in their official capacities, he may not proceed. An "official capacity" suit against a state official is, in essence, a suit against the state itself, a claim which the Eleventh Amendment precludes a plaintiff from pursuing in federal court. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 65-66 (1989); Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 169 (1985). Further, a state, its agencies, and its officials sued in their official capacities for monetary damages are not considered "persons" within the meaning 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Id.; see also Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994). Any construed claim by Odom seeking damages from the defendants in their official capacities will be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

2. Individual Capacity Claims Asserted under § 1983 against Sergeant Barker, Nurse "Faith, " the Second Shift LPN, and the unidentified CET members

Accepting Odom's factual allegations as true, which the Court must do at the initial screening stage, Odom has alleged possible federal claims under § 1983 against the unidentified members of the CET, Sergeant Barker, the unidentified LPN, and Nurse "Faith" in their individual capacities. Defendants Barker and "Nurse Faith, " in their individual capacities, will be directed to respond to Odom's Eighth Amendment claims asserted under § 1983.[3] Odom must identify any unknown John and Jane Doe Defendants (as to the CET members and the unidentified Second Shift LPN) and have them served within 120 days after the date of this Memorandum Opinion and Order, or his claims against them will be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m).

3. Claims Asserted under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985(3)

Odom's conspiracy claims the defendants, asserted under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3), will also be dismissed because Odom has not alleged facts supporting such a claim. To establish a conspiracy claim under § 1985(3), a plaintiff must demonstrate:

(1) the existence of a conspiracy; (2) intended to deprive any person or class of persons the equal protection or equal privileges and immunities of the law; (3) an act in furtherance of the conspiracy; and (4) ...

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