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Quinn v. City of Owensboro

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

December 9, 2013

CITY OF OWENSBORO et al., Defendants.


JOSEPH H. McKINLEY, Jr., Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff, George Kevin Quinn, filed the instant pro se action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 proceeding in forma pauperis. This matter is before the Court on preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). For the reasons that follow, the Court will dismiss the action.


Plaintiff was an inmate in the Daviess County Detention Center (DCDC). Subsequent to filing the complaint, Plaintiff filed a notice of change of address indicating that he has been released from DCDC. He sues the City of Owensboro; David Osborne, the DCDC Jailer; Clark Pelfrey, the Health Director of Southern Health Partners; Christie Robinson, a social worker with "D.C.B.S." in Owensboro; Claude Porter, a prosecutor at the Morton Holbrook Judicial Center; and Lisa Jones, a judge at the Morton Holbrook Judicial Center. He sues each Defendant in his or her individual and official capacity.

Plaintiff states that "Christy Robinson and Lisa Payne have for the last 6 years held my son kidnapped by abusing their powers - (Kidnapping abusing a mentally ill person)." He avers, "Claude Porter has for past 6 years covered up evidence I have to this allegation! Accessory to kidnapping and abusing a mentally ill person. Claude Porter has refused to arrest David Osborne of assault and abusing a mentally ill person and kidnapping." He further states that Defendant Osborne "assaulted me on 7-7-12 and unlawfully arrested me, also abused a mentally ill person." Finally, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Pelfrey "has refused to give me medical treatment since 10-12." Plaintiff contends that "[a]ll charges violate my First Amendment right of free speech. These are hate crimes due to my religious beliefs!"

As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief in the form of "paying for my surgery I need." He also requests to "remove Defendants from positions and imprison."


When a prisoner initiates a civil action seeking redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee, the trial court must review the complaint and dismiss the complaint, or any portion of it, if the court determines that the complaint is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1), (2); McGore, 114 F.3d at 604.

In order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "[A] district court must (1) view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and (2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true." Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)). "But the district court need not accept a bare assertion of legal conclusions.'" Tackett, 561 F.3d at 488 (quoting Columbia Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995)). "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s]' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557).

Although this Court recognizes that pro se pleadings are to be held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991), "[o]ur duty to be less stringent' with pro se complaints does not require us to conjure up unpled allegations." McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation omitted). And this Court is not required to create a claim for Plaintiff. Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975). To command otherwise would require the Court "to explore exhaustively all potential claims of a pro se plaintiff, [and] would also transform the district court from its legitimate advisory role to the improper role of an advocate seeking out the strongest arguments and most successful strategies for a party." Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).


A. Official-capacity claims

Plaintiff's official-capacity claims against Defendants are actually claims against their employers. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985) (quoting Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 n.55 (1978)). Therefore, Plaintiff's official-capacity claims against Defendants Osborne and Pelfrey are actually against Daviess County and Southern Health Partners, respectively. "[A] municipality cannot be held liable solely because it employs a tortfeasor - or, in other words, a municipality cannot be held liable under § 1983 on a respondeat superior theory." Monell, 436 U.S. at 691. A municipality cannot be held responsible for a constitutional deprivation unless there is a direct causal link between a municipal policy or custom and the alleged constitutional deprivation. Id. The same analysis that applies to municipalities applies to a § 1983 claim against a private corporation like Southern Health Partners.[1] See Street v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 818 (6th Cir. 1996) (" Monell involved a municipal corporation, but every circuit to consider the issue has extended the holding to private corporations as well.").

Plaintiff has not alleged that Defendant Osborne or Pelfrey acted pursuant to a policy or custom of Daviess County or Southern Health Partners with respect to their alleged action. Plaintiff's complaint appears to allege isolated occurrences affecting only him. See Fox v. Van Oosterum, 176 F.3d 342, 348 (6th Cir. 1999) ("No evidence indicates that this was anything more than a one-time, isolated event for which the county is not responsible."). Accordingly, Plaintiff's official-capacity ...

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