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Sublett v. Brown

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

October 15, 2014

DAMIEN A. SUBLETT, Plaintiff,
v.
ALAN BROWN, WARDEN, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

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

Plaintiff, Damien A. Sublett, a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis, has filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (DN 1). Subsequent to the filing of the complaint, he filed two motions to amend the complaint (DNs 6 & 7).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) allows "a party [to] amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave." The rule further provides that the "court should freely give leave when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). The decision as to whether justice requires the amendment is committed to the sound discretion of the trial court. Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc., 401 U.S. 321, 330 (1971); Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Upon consideration, the motions to amend (DNs 6 & 7) are GRANTED.

This matter is before the Court for initial review of the complaint and amendments 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 allow the following claims to proceed: (1) the First Amendment retaliation claim against Defendant Foster arising out of Plaintiff being placed in the Special Management Unit (SMU) on May 5, 2014; (2) the First Amendment retaliation claim against Defendant Brown arising out of Plaintiff being placed in the strip cell[1] from May 8-12, 2014; (3) the Fourth Amendment right-to-privacy claim against Defendant Bradley; (4) the Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Cooney, Robinson, Buchanan, and Williams regarding the allegedly unsafe bunk; and (5) the Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Brown regarding the conditions of confinement while Plaintiff was in the strip cell from May 8-12, 2014.

I. SUMMARY OF CLAIMS

In his complaint and amendments, Plaintiff sets forth seven claims, and he names eight Defendants. The eight named Defendants are as follows: (1) Alan Brown, the Warden at Green River Correctional Complex (GRCC); (2) Casey Foster, Sergeant, GRCC; (3) Cortney Bradley[2], Nurse, GRCC; (4) S. Gee, Sergeant, GRCC; (5) Bruce Cooney, Unit Administrator, GRCC; (6) Michael Robinson, Unit Administrator, GRCC; (7) Jenifere Buchanan, Correctional Treatment Officer, GRCC; and (8) Ricky Williams, Deputy Warden, GRCC. Plaintiff sues each Defendant in his/her individual capacity. He seeks monetary damages, punitive damages, injunctive and declaratory relief, and for Defendants to pay the costs of this action.

Claim One

Plaintiff states that he is presently incarcerated at GRCC where the events about which he complains in this case occurred. Prior to being at GRCC, Plaintiff states that he was incarcerated at Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP). Plaintiff states that he was transferred for his protection because a hit was placed on his life by a gang.

While at GRCC, Plaintiff states that he was involved in pending litigation in which he named a former GRCC warden as a defendant, Case No. 5:12CV-P180-R. At some point during his incarceration at GRCC, Plaintiff states that Defendant Foster called him to give him a piece of legal mail. Plaintiff states that Defendant Foster recognized the name of the former warden as one of the defendants in Plaintiff's pending litigation. Plaintiff states that Defendant Foster encouraged Plaintiff to drop the lawsuit, told Plaintiff that he caused trouble everywhere he went, and stated that there are white power gangs in every prison. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Foster then informed him that if he "f____ ed up" at GRCC, he would send him right back to KSP. Plaintiff states that Defendant Foster gave him his mail, and Plaintiff just stared at Defendant Foster. Defendant Foster, according to Plaintiff, asked if Plaintiff was threatening him.

Plaintiff states that on May 5, 2014, he was handcuffed, searched, and escorted out of the legal library where he was working on his lawsuit involving KSP and brought to the SMU. Plaintiff states that he received a detention order the next morning which indicated that on May 5, 2014, Defendant Foster had received information that Plaintiff made a statement to the effect that he was going to get a write-up serious enough to get transferred to KSP. According to Plaintiff, the detention order was subsequently squashed by Defendant Brown as being meritless. Plaintiff states that there were no computers in segregation, he was not allowed to access the legal library during that time, and he was not given his legal materials while in segregation.

Plaintiff's first claim is for retaliation and arises out of these events. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Foster placed him in segregation under a "false allegation to prevent [him] from pursueing his Law Suit's against prison official's."

Claim Two

Plaintiff's second claim arises out of events that occurred on May 7, 2014, while Plaintiff was incarcerated in the SMU. According to Plaintiff, the shower in the SMU has a large window so that "officers can observe an inmate showering." According to Plaintiff, while he was showering, Defendant Bradley, a female nurse, walked past the window while retrieving some blood pressure equipment. Plaintiff states that Defendant Bradley came to the shower window and stared at Plaintiff and his penis twice while he was showering. On the second occasion, Plaintiff represents, Defendant Bradley looked at Plaintiff and smiled. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Gee took no action to stop Defendant Bradley, but "condoned it by allowing [Defendant Bradley] to return a second time." Plaintiff states that while attempting to cover himself from Defendant Bradley, he fell and injured his knee. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Bradley later came on the walk and made comments about the size of Plaintiff's penis. Plaintiff states that as a result of the incident in the shower, he filed a grievance against Defendants Bradley and Gee.

Plaintiff contends in this second claim that Defendants Bradley and Gee violated his Fourth Amendment right to privacy.

Claims Three and Four

According to Plaintiff, on May 8, 2014, Defendant Brown "had Plaintiff strip Naked and placed in a strip cell for filing a grievance." According to Plaintiff, the cell was "made of complete metal and concrete with no matress." Plaintiff states that he was placed in this cell with "No clothing, bedding or Sheet, no material to cover his naked body." When he was initially placed in the cell, Plaintiff states, he was given a smock vest. According to Plaintiff, the vest was taken by the second shift for cleaning, but was never returned. Plaintiff states that he was forced to sleep on the concrete floor which had screws sticking out of it. One screw "tore [Plaintiff's] left side pulling skin for about an inch and a half [and] caused bleeding and burning plaintiff was seen by the nurse and was given ointment ultimately it worsen and got infected...." Plaintiff states that he remained naked in this cell for five days. According to Plaintiff, at some point, Defendant Brown "came to the cell window in which Plaintiff was confined and informed Plaintiff, that he is being held Naked, in a strip cell for fileing a grievance." Plaintiff states that this was done to keep Plaintiff from getting statements from other prisoners on the walk. Further, according to Plaintiff, two inmates who had witnessed the events were transferred. Plaintiff states that staff told him he could not contact the transferred inmates.

Plaintiff's third claim is another First Amendment retaliation claim. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Brown had Plaintiff placed in the strip cell in retaliation for filing a grievance against Defendants Bradley and Gee. Plaintiff's fourth claim is an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Brown regarding the conditions of confinement in the strip cell.

Claim Five

Plaintiff states that during the time he was in the strip cell his reply to defendants' response to his motion for summary judgment in another case in this Court, Sublett v. White, No. 5:12CV-P180-R, was due. Plaintiff continues as follows:

Because, Plaintiff, was held in a strip cell from 5-8-14 and 5-12-14 and plaintiff was placed in seg in the inception plaintiff could not file his reply brief. Plaintiff informed Staff, of his reply brief and that he needed to mail it out. However, Staff informed Plaintiff until the Warden allows plaintiff to be removed from a strip cell he plaintiff could not have any Legal Material. Therefor, preventing plaintiff from having access to the Court to file his reply brief. Had plaintiff filed his reply brief, plaintiff may have won Summary Judgment against Defendant Wilson (KSP) official. As well, [Plaintiff] missed his filing deadline because of no access to the court.

Plaintiff contends in his fifth claim that Defendants Foster and Brown denied him access to the courts in violation of the ...


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