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Graves v. Louisville Metro Dept. of Corr.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

February 3, 2014

TODD GRAVES, Plaintiff,
v.
LOUISVILLE METRO DEPT. OF CORR. et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

CHARLES R. SIMPSON, III, Senior District Judge.

Plaintiff, Todd Graves, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is before the Court for screening 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 set forth below, the action will be dismissed but the Court will allow Plaintiff an opportunity to amend his complaint with regard to the alleged denial of medical treatment.

I. SUMMARY OF CLAIMS

Plaintiff, who is a pretrial detainee at the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections (LMDC), names as Defendants LMDC and Jailer Mark Bolton in his individual capacity. Plaintiff alleges that on April 3, 2013, while at work in LMDC he slipped on something slick on the floor, fell, and split his head open. He states he was sent to the University of Louisville Hospital to have 13 staples put in his head. He states that he was billed by the University of Louisville Hospital for $950. He asserts that LMDC has refused to pay the medical bill and has refused him treatment for the past four months for his complaints of migraine headaches and pain in his arm.

II. ANALYSIS

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 action, if the court determines that it 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) and (2). A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Id. at 327. When determining whether a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court must construe the complaint in a light most favorable to Plaintiff and accept all of the factual allegations as true. Prater v. City of Burnside, Ky., 289 F.3d 417, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). While a reviewing court must liberally construe pro se pleadings, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam), to avoid dismissal, a complaint must include "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

A. Claim against Defendant Bolton

Plaintiff sues Defendant Bolton in his individual capacity. However, nothing in the complaint links Defendant Bolton personally with the alleged constitutional violations.

The specific facts must explain how each defendant is personally responsible for the alleged injuries. Smith v. Rowe, 761 F.2d 360, 369 (7th Cir. 1985). Plaintiff's complaint fails to do so. As such, this claim must be dismissed for a failure to state a claim. See Copeland v. Machulis, 57 F.3d 476, 481 (6th Cir. 1995) (per curiam) (stating that personal involvement by the defendant is an essential element in a § 1983 cause of action asserting a constitutional deprivation).

Nor does the mere fact that Defendant Bolton is Director make him responsible for the alleged violation. "To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law." West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). "Respondeat superior[1] is not a proper basis for liability under § 1983." McQueen v. Beecher Cmty. Schs., 433 F.3d 460, 470 (6th Cir. 2006). "[T]he liability of supervisors [cannot] be based solely on the right to control employees, or simple awareness of employees' misconduct." Id. (internal quotations omitted). "In order for supervisory liability to attach, a plaintiff must prove that the official did more than play a passive role in the alleged violation or showed mere tacit approval of the goings on.'" Loy v. Sexton, 132 F.Appx. 624, 626 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting Bass v. Robinson, 167 F.3d 1041, 1048 (6th Cir. 1999)). In other words, "liability under § 1983 must be based on active unconstitutional behavior." Shehee v. Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295, 300 (6th Cir. 1999). "A supervisor's awareness of allegations of unconstitutional conduct and failure to act are not a basis for liability." McCurtis v. Wood, 76 F.Appx. 632, 634 (6th Cir. 2003). Thus, Defendant Bolton's position as Director of LMDC does not automatically make him liable for the actions/inactions of his subordinates. See, e.g., Brown v. Green, No. 97-1117, 1997 WL 777979 (6th Cir. Dec. 12, 1997) ("Defendant Green, being sued in her official capacity as the Medical Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections, cannot be held liable for an alleged constitutional violation, because the doctrine of respondeat superior does not apply in § 1983 lawsuits to impute liability onto supervisory personnel."); Farrow v. West, 320 F.3d 1235, 1238 n.1 (11th Cir. 2003) (holding that the regional director of prison medical services was not liable for actions of subordinate medical staff). Because Plaintiff's allegations against Defendant Bolton relate only to his role as Director of LMDC, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against him.

B. Claims against LMDC

• Claim regarding hospital bill

"Under the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause, ... pretrial detainees [like Plaintiff] have a right to adequate medical treatment that is analogous to the Eighth Amendment rights of prisoners." Watkins v. City of Battle Creek, 273 F.3d 682, 685-86 (6th Cir. 2001). There is no constitutional requirement, however, that the care be provided to the inmate free of charge. See Sickles v. Campbell Cnty., Ky., 501 F.3d 726, 730 (6th Cir. 2007). Plaintiff alleges that he was taken to the hospital where he received treatment for the injury to his head (staples). Once at the hospital, Plaintiff does not allege that his care was conditioned on ...


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