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Peel v. Woods

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

March 17, 2015

MICHAEL WOODS, et al., Defendants.


KAREN K. CALDWELL, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff Michael Eugene Peel is an inmate confined by the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") under the supervision of the Residential Reentry Management Field Office located in Nashville, Tennessee.[1] Peel is physically confined in a half-way house facility operated by Dismas Charities, Inc. ("Dismas"), located at 909 Georgetown Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40511.[2] Proceeding without counsel, Peel has filed a submission entitled "Motion to be Heard" [R. 1], which the Clerk of the Court has administratively docketed as a civil rights complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, pursuant to the doctrine announced in Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). By separate Order, Peel has been granted in forma pauperis status. [R. 5] The Court has conducted a preliminary review of Peel's complaint because he asserts claims against government officials and because he has been granted pauper status, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A, and because Peel is proceeding without counsel, the Court liberally construes his claims and accepts his factual allegations as true. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007)

As explained below, however, the Court determines that it must dismiss Peel's construed Bivens claims alleging the denial of his right to freedom of speech and/or his right of access to the courts, the denial of his right to due process of law, the improper confiscation of his personal property, and retaliation, without prejudice to his right to file another action if he wishes to seek any type of specific relief from the defendants. The Court will also dismiss with prejudice other claims which Peel has asserted.


In his construed Bivens complaint, Peel asserts constitutional claims against various Dismas employees and complains about the conditions of his confinement in the Dismas facility. Peel states on December 22, 2014, Dismas employee Michael Woods, whom Peel identifies as a "monitor, " searched his room and confiscated and three drawings that he had created, which Peel describes as artwork. [R. 1, p. 1] Peel alleges that Woods confiscates his drawings because he (Woods) considered it to be "pornographic in nature." [ Id. ] Peel states that he was then sent to the Dismas office where Defendants Tara Davis and Marita Woods allegedly told him that his drawings were pornography, not art. Peel claims that when he requested a BP-10 grievance form, Davis allegedly told him that "there would be no tit for tat write ups." [ Id., p. 2] Peel states that Woods, Davis, and Dunn, work for Defendant Sheryl Fisher, and that Fisher allegedly was "over these decisions." [ Id. ].

Peel alleges that when he continued to complain about the confiscation of his artwork, he was threatened with expulsion from Dismas and placement in "jail." [ Id., at p. 4] Peel contends that Fisher and Woods are "out to get" him, id., p. 5]; that he has been denied his right to enroll in college; and that he has been denied an opportunity to take a job that pays $10 an hour, six days a week. [ Id. ] Peel also complains that Woods has verbally harassed him and that someone identified as "Ms. Parker" has slammed a door in front of him, causing a cleaning supply cart to fall on him. [ Id. ].

Peel further claims that all of the inmates residing in the Dismas facility "live in fear due to the threats and repeated write-ups by Michael Woods, Tara Davis, and Sheryl Fisher. We are talk [sic] to like dogs and treated as such." [ Id. p. 4; see also, p. 6 (stating, "My family and I have been talked to like dogs by Ms. Parker and Mr. Woods and my family doesn't even want to come visit.")] Peel alleges that "people here" are being refused medical treatment even after a doctor stated that another Dismas resident needed to go to the "trauma ward to get surgery...." [ Id., p. 5]

Peel claims that the confiscation of his drawings violated his right to freedom of speech guaranteed under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; that the defendants have retaliated against him because he has filed write-ups complaining about them, thus violating his right to freedom of speech and/or right of access to the courts guaranteed under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; and that the alleged denial of the requested BP-10 grievance form violated his right to due process of his guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.[3]

At the beginning of his filing, Peel states asks the Court "... to please hear and enter my case." [R. 1, p. 1] At the end, he states, "I am begging the Court to help with this. I fear retaliation which will stop me from getting my life straight. All I want is a job a home and my family. The Courts have taught me a lesson I'm cured." [ Id. p. 6]


Peel fails to inform the Court what relief he seeks as result of filing this action. Peel recites alleged wrongdoing by the defendants, but because he seeks neither monetary damages nor injunctive relief, it is impossible for this action to proceed. Peel broadly alleges that the defendants have violated his various constitutional rights, and that he fears retaliation from them, but he seeks no specific relief in conjunction with those allegations. Peel states that he wants a job, a home, and a family, all of which are general and laudable goals, but they are not outcomes which can be achieved through this construed Bivens civil rights action. Peel's submission is essentially a therapeutic outpouring, as opposed to a bona-fide civil rights complaint seeking some type of specific legal or equitable relief. Thus, the Court must dismiss this action without prejudice.

While pro se litigants are to be held to less stringent standards than trained lawyers, and while a pro se complaint is to be given generous construction, "the principles requiring generous construction of pro se complaints are not, however, without limits." Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274 (4th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1088 (1986). In discussing the most basic requirement of pro se complaints, the Beaudett court opined as follows:

Gordon [v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147 (4th Cir. 1978)] directs district courts to construe pro se complaints liberally. It does not require those courts to conjure up questions never squarely ...

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