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Frye v. King

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

April 2, 2014

DEVON A. FRYE, Plaintiff,
v.
DANIEL KING, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

THOMAS B. RUSSELL, Senior District Judge.

Plaintiff Devon A. Frye, a prisoner proceeding pro se , filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (DN 1). This matter is before the Court for initial review 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, this action will be dismissed.

I. STATEMENT OF THE CASE

Plaintiff brings this action against two Defendants: (1) Daniel King, the Unit Administrator at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex [LLCC]; and (2) Tiffany Ratliff, the Deputy Warden at LLCC. Plaintiff indicates that he is suing Defendant King in both his individual and official capacities and Defendant Ratliff only in her official capacity. As relief, Plaintiff seeks punitive damages and to "void [the] Interstate Corrections Compact Agreement between Virginia and Kentucky."

Plaintiff is presently incarcerated at Kentucky State Penitentiary [KSP] whereas the events about which he complains occurred while he was incarcerated at LLCC. Plaintiff states that on November 8, 2013, a "documented Blood Gang member" was transferred to LLCC. Plaintiff states that when this inmate discovered that Plaintiff was housed at LLCC, he approached Plaintiff and made threats of violence to Plaintiff because he had information that Page 2> Plaintiff was "on the run from the Bloods in Virginia because of disloyalty, and that a price had been put on [Plaintiff's] head." Plaintiff represents that this "Blood Gang member" inmate informed him that a correctional officer at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex [EKCC] was the source of this information about Plaintiff. Apparently, the correctional officer blamed Plaintiff for her daughter being terminated from employment at EKCC. Plaintiff states that he "attempted to file conflict on [the correctional officer]" because she was slandering Plaintiff's name and divulging sensitive information about his transfer. Plaintiff admits that he was in fact transferred to Kentucky for the reasons stated by the "Blood Gang member" inmate, but that this information should not have been divulged.

According to Plaintiff, he "studiously avoided [the Blood Gang member' inmate], but [he] was further accosted by other Blood Gang members." Plaintiff states that on November 11, 2013, he requested protective custody. As a result of this request, Plaintiff was removed from general population and was placed in segregation. Plaintiff states that on November 14, 2013, a protective custody hearing was conducted by Defendant King. Plaintiff states that he explained the situation to Defendant King and informed him that "due to the small community with regards to Kentucky DOC's [Department of Corrections] medium/close security prison population the safest option was either long term protective custody or [him] being transferred out of state again." Defendant King denied Plaintiff's request for protective custody, but informed Plaintiff that Plaintiff "was receiving a standard transfer to another facility because he felt [Plaintiff] would be assaulted by an unspecified number of inmates if allowed to return to population at LLCC." According to Plaintiff, he explained to Defendant King that this was only a "quick fix, " but did not address the issue of Plaintiff's life being in danger. Plaintiff then requested Defendant King to notify the Virginia DOC about the developments with Plaintiff. Plaintiff states that Defendant King informed Plaintiff that "statistically the numbers indicated [Plaintiff] wouldn't be killed and so [Plaintiff] wouldn't be awarded long term PC [protective custody], furthermore it wasn't his position to contact Virginia DOC." Further, Plaintiff was informed of his right to appeal.

Plaintiff states that he appealed the decision because he felt he was in danger. On November 20, 2013, according to Plaintiff, he was informed that his appeal had been denied and that he would not receive protective custody, but he would be transferred. Plaintiff states that on the following day Defendant Ratliff informed him that she was reviewing Plaintiff's transfer paperwork and "that Virginia would be notified." According to Plaintiff, his grandmother informed him on December 10, 2013, that the Virginia DOC was unaware of Plaintiff's situation after she learned about this from the Interstate Corrections Compact Coordinator. When inquiring of Defendant Ratliff as to why the Virginia DOC was unaware of his situation, Defendant Ratliff informed Plaintiff "that the state of Kentucky wasn't obligated to alert them of anything because [Plaintiff was] a Kentucky inmate."

Plaintiff contends that the actions of Defendants "demonstrate deliberate indifference and gross negligence, also falling under the purview of an 8th Amendment violation for cruel and unusual punishment." According to Plaintiff, the action or lack thereof by Defendants have kept him in a "hostile and violent environment." Plaintiff believes it is not a question of if he will be assaulted or killed, but when.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

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 it 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A; McGore v. Wrigglesworth , 114 F.3d at 604. 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 trial 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. 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] 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 v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC , 561 F.3d at 488 (quoting Columbia Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum , 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995)). The court's duty "does not require [it] to conjure up unpled allegations, " McDonald v. Hall , 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979), or to create a claim for a 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).

III. LEGAL ANALYSIS

A. Eleventh Amendment Immunity

Under the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, [1] a state and its agencies may not be sued in federal court, regardless of the relief sought, unless the state has waived its immunity or Congress has overridden it. Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Auth. v. Metcalf & Eddy, Inc. , 506 U.S. 139, 146 (1993); Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman , 465 U.S. 89, 124 (1984); Alabama v. Pugh , 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978). The Commonwealth of Kentucky has not waived its immunity, see Adams v. Morris , 90 F.Appx. 856, 857 (6th Cir. 2004), and in enacting § 1983, Congress did not intend to override the traditional sovereign immunity of the states. Whittington v. Milby , 928 F.2d 188, 193-94 (6th Cir. 1991) (citing Quern v. Jordan , 440 U.S. 332, 341 (1979)); see Ferritto v. Ohio ...


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