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Powell v. Harrington

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

March 26, 2015

RON HARRINGTON et al., Defendants.


JOSEPH H. McKINLEY, Jr., District Judge.

Plaintiff, Charles L. Powell, filed a pro se, nin forma pauperis complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is before the Court for screening 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 action will be dismissed in part and allowed to continue in part.


Plaintiff, who was incarcerated at the Henderson County Detention Center (HCDC) at the pertinent time, names as Defendants HCDC employees Jailer Ron Harrington and Officers Akins and Bell and Southern Health Partners employee Lea Humphrey. He sues all Defendants in their individual and official capacities. He alleges that "Southern Partners" refused him treatment for pain and high blood pressure "on different occasions also gave me medications of another." He alleges that Captain Flag put him "on the floor with no mattress for 16 hrs a day without justification." He alleges that he had to use his fingers to eat and, because he had no drinking cup, had to use a potato chip bag to drink. He further alleges, "excessive force and spray without cause because I said I didn't want to be in the hole with a person that smelled and [Capt. Flagg] sprayed me sitting on floor with leg crossed and hands behind my back." Plaintiff further complains of overcrowded conditions with "2 people in one man cell to 5 people in the hole as a state inmate."

Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants Akins and Bell and Officer Carter hurt his arm. He further states that Officer Conaway had Officer Carter spray him with "mace without cause all I was doing was wanting a doctor or nurse for my arm was in chronic pain because OFC Aking bent it and made a loud pop. I think it was broken at the time it swelled up very very big and was worryed." Plaintiff states that he is on Celexa and has stress, depression, and anxiety attacks. He alleges that "Southern Health Partners gave me extra strength Tylenol then told me I'm not allowed these meds after coming back from KCPC then was told I couldn't finish talking to doctor had officers to make me leave without finishing telling Dr. Davis whats wrong." As relief, he requests monetary and punitive damages.

In an attachment to his complaint, Plaintiff provides further details. He states that Defendant Bell and Officer Carter pulled him off of his mat, "threw water in the booking area, " "twisting my legs and arms what ever limbs they can pull on the OFC Atkins grabbed my right rist push my elbow in it made a loud pop." Plaintiff said his arm was broken "and it swelled up very very big and received no Dr. for there is nun but 1 time a week-n-no pain medication no x-ray." He alleges that he cannot afford "housing or their medical and was refuse any kind of help." He states further:

It was about HCDC-n-SHP budget and my welfare was compromised and neglected. I have a bone and plate replaced in my neck, my right hand has screw in it, broken ribs on both side, cracked hip, claps disic in back, mesh in abdomen. Chronic oslyoprosis, chronic arthritis, swellin and pain in legs, arms and joints and the OFC at HCDC would get to physical bending and twisting spraying, tasing then laugh and talk about it....

Paintiff states he had an encounter in which another inmate was sprayed and "the over spray hit me as well didn't do anything." He also states, "I was also was handcuff down in a chair tased in chest several times and neck area this is illegal OFC Chris Boatmon did this."


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 action, if the Court determines that it 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 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) and (2). 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 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. 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 Plaintiff and accept all of the factual allegations as true. Prater v. City of Burnside, Ky., 289 F.3d 417, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). While a reviewing court must liberally construe pro se pleadings, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam), to avoid dismissal, a complaint must include "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

Conditions of confinement

Plaintiff's claims related to the conditions of his confinement consist of overcrowding, having no mattress for 16 hours a day, having to drink out of potato chip bag, and having to eat with his fingers.

The Constitution does not protect a prisoner from unpleasant prison experiences. Ivey v. Wilson, 832 F.2d 950, 954 (6th Cir. 1987). Nor does the Constitution mandate comfortable conditions of confinement. Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 349 (1981). Moreover, overcrowding in a prison is not itself a violation of the constitution. Id. at 347-48. Overcrowded conditions can be restrictive and even harsh; however, they do not violate the Eighth Amendment unless they deprive the inmate of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities. Id. at 348. Plaintiff's simple allegation that overcrowding exists is not a deprivation of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.

Nor do Plaintiff's other complaints about the conditions of his confinement rise to the level of a constitutional violation. According to the complaint, Plaintiff was provided with a mattress for sleeping eight hours per day, and he does not allege that he had nowhere to sit during the remaining 16 hours of the day. Thus, the Court finds that he has failed to allege a constitutional violation regarding deprivation of a mattress. See, e.g., Driskell v. Jones, No. 2:11-CV-721-WKW, 2014 WL 4795048, at *14 (M.D. Ala. Sept. 25, 2014) (finding that where prisoner's mattress was removed during ...

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