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Howard v. Osborne

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro

April 15, 2014

WAYNE EDWARD HOWARD et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
DAVID OSBORNE et al. Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

Plaintiffs Wayne Edward Howard and Christopher A. Schenk jointly filed the instant pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action proceeding in forma pauperis. This matter is before the Court on initial review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Upon review, the Court will dismiss the action.

I.

Plaintiffs are convicted inmates at the Daviess County Detention Center (DCDC). They sue David Osborne, [1] the jailer of DCDC, in his individual and official capacities and the Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC). According to the complaint, Plaintiff Howard is a Level 1 community custody inmate and has been "refused the opportunity to work or earn work credit good time while other similarly situated inmates who have same custody level are allowed." He states that this is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause because Defendants are treating similarly situated inmates differently.

Additionally, Plaintiffs contend that they have both been denied access to legal materials while confined at DCDC. They state that this is a violation of due process. They also report that DCDC "has no legal library to assist inmates in any legal proceedings including this lawsuit."

Plaintiffs further state that "Defendants regularly allow overcrowding in the [DCDC] forcing both County and State inmates on the floor without any elevation other than a thin matt. Also State and County inmates are housed together."

As relief, Plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages, injunctive relief, and payment of their fees and costs.

II.

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 §§ 1915A(b)(1), (2); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). 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 the plaintiff and accept all of the factual allegations as true. Prater v. City of Burnside, Ky., 289 F.3d 417, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). 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)).

III.

Work and good-time credits

Plaintiff Howard contends that he was denied the opportunity to work and to earn goodtime credit in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause "is essentially a direction that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike." City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 U.S. 432, 439 (1985) (citing Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 216 (1982)). "In order to state an equal protection claim, a plaintiff must allege that a state actor intentionally discriminated against him because of his membership in a protected class or that the state infringed upon a fundamental right." Coleman v. Martin, 363 F.Supp.2d 894, 902 (E.D. Mich. 2005) (citing Henry v. Metro. Sewer Dist., 922 F.2d 332, 341 (6th Cir. 1990)). Plaintiff Howard fails to specify his race or any other characteristic that would implicate an equal protection violation. Nor can he establish that the state infringed on a fundamental right because a prisoner does not have a constitutional right to prison employment. Martin v. O'Brien, 207 F.Appx. 587, 590 (6th Cir. 2006) (citing Newsom v. Norris, 888 F.2d 371, 374 (6th Cir. 1989)); Argue v. Hofmeyer, 80 F.Appx. 427, 429 (6th Cir. 2003) (prisoners have no constitutional right to rehabilitation, education or jobs). Likewise, "[a] Kentucky inmate possesses no inherent constitutional right... to accumulate good time credits.'" Grinter v. Knight, 532 F.3d 567, 575 (6th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). As such, Plaintiff's equal protection claim based on the denial of a prison job and good-time credits will be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

Legal materials

Plaintiffs also allege that they were denied access to legal materials and that DCDC does not have a law library. In order to state a viable claim for interference with access to the courts under the First Amendment, Plaintiffs must show "actual injury." Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 349 (1996); see also Talley-Bey v. Knebl, 168 F.3d 884, 886 (6th Cir. 1999). In other words, a plaintiff must plead and demonstrate that lack of legal materials have hindered, or are presently hindering, his efforts to pursue a nonfrivolous legal claim. Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351-53; see also Pilgrim v. Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996). An inmate must make a specific claim that he was adversely affected or that the litigation was prejudiced. Harbin-Bey v. Rutter, 420 F.3d 571, 578 (6th Cir. 2005). "Examples of actual prejudice ...


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