United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
THOMAS B. RUSSELL, Senior District Judge.
Plaintiff John Robert Catoe, 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, the Court will allow the Eighth Amendment delay-in-medical-treatment claim to proceed against Defendant Abrey in her individual capacity. All other claims and Defendants will be dismissed.
I. STATEMENT OF THE CASE
Plaintiff brings this action against the following five Defendants: (1) Hardin County Detention Center (HCDC); (2) Southern Health Partners (SHP), a "Health Contractor" with HCDC; (3) Christy Abrey, Head Nurse at SHP/HCDC; (4) Lieutenant Robert Reynolds, a "Shift Lieutenant" at HCDC; and (5) Danny Allen, the Jailer at HCDC. Plaintiff indicates that he is suing all of the Defendants in their official capacity and Defendants Abrey and Allen in their individual capacities also. As relief, Plaintiff seeks punitive damages.
In his complaint Plaintiff states that Defendants, with the exception of Defendant Allen, "violated [his] rights through cruel and unusual punishment, by not treating a yeast infection on [his] penis from 21 May 2014 to 03 June 2014. WHICH consequently, led to the spread of the infection over [his] entire genitalia and anus." Plaintiff states that Defendant Abrey "knew of [his] condition from a recent visit to jail and for 13 days did nothing to treat [his] yeast infection." According to Plaintiff, Defendant Reynolds "also knew and stood by and did nothing." Plaintiff states that on May 22, 2014, he sent a "Request for NYSTOP ANTI-FUNGAL POWDER and Tolnaftote Antifugal Cream to medical with no reply." He states that on the following day, he sent a request to medical for the same powder and a Diflucan pill. According to Plaintiff, he received a response to the second request, "but no treatment." Plaintiff states that he was "finally seen on 03 June 2014 by Nurse Fernando." This nurse, Plaintiff represents, examined his penis only, gave him an antifungal cream, and ordered the NYStop Antifungal powder, which Plaintiff received the next day.
Further, Plaintiff includes an apology to the Court in his complaint. He states that he is apologizing because the HCDC "has not been forthwith with the names and addresses of the above [names of Plaintiff's potential witnesses]; Nor was [he] given enough form B's; when asked for more copies [he] was refused." According to Plaintiff, HCDC and SHP "in no way have made this easy. They have both hindered my every request from Captain Highnote down."
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. Official-Capacity Claimsm
1. Claims Against HCDC and Defendants Abrey, Reynolds, and Allen
Defendant HCDC is not an entity subject to suit; the § 1983 claim against it must be brought against Hardin County as the real party in interest. See Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994) (advising that since the county police department is not an entity which may be sued, the county is the proper party); Bradford v. Hammond, No. Civ.A.3:05CVP459-H, 2005 WL 2739154, at *2 (W.D. Ky. Oct. 21, 2005) (construing a claim against Louisville Metro Corrections as one brought against Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government); Smallwood v. Jefferson Cnty. Gov't, 743 F.Supp. 502, 503 (W.D. Ky. 1990) (concluding that a suit against the Jefferson County Government, the Jefferson County Fiscal Court, and the Jefferson County Judge Executive is actually a suit against Jefferson County itself). Likewise, the official-capacity claims against Defendants Abrey,  Reynolds, and Allen are claims against Hardin County. "Official-capacity suits... generally represent  another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent.'" Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985) (quoting Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of the City of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 690 n.55 (1978)). Suing Defendants in their official capacity is the equivalent of suing their employer, Hardin County. See Lambert v. Hartman, 517 F.3d 433, 439-40 (6th Cir. 2008) (stating that civil rights suit against county clerk of courts in his official capacity was equivalent of suing clerk's employer, the county).
When a § 1983 claim is made against a municipality, this Court must analyze two distinct issues: (1) whether Plaintiff's harm was caused by a constitutional violation; and (2) if so, whether the municipality is responsible for that violation. ...