United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
DAMIEN A. SUBLETT, Plaintiff,
SGT. JUSTIN T. BRYANT, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JOSEPH M. HOOD, Senior District Judge.
Damien A. Sublett is an inmate in custody of the Kentucky Department of Corrections and is presently confined in the Northpoint Training Center ("NTC") in Burgin, Kentucky. Proceeding pro se, Sublett has filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendant Sgt. Justin T. Bryant, a prison official at NTC, violated his constitutional right of access to the court and his right to file grievances without incurring retaliation for such action. [R. 1] Based on alleged events that have occurred subsequent to the filing of the original complaint, as previously supplemented, Sublett has also filed a second motion for leave to file a supplemental complaint, naming three additional NTC prison officials as defendants to this action: (1) Brad Adams, NTC staff, (2) Jamie Moreland, NTC staff, and (3) Michael D. Long, NTC staff. [R. 8] Sublett submitted his proposed Amended Complaint with this motion. [R. 8-1] Sublett seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
Prior to the present motion for leave to file a supplemental complaint, Sublett previously amended his complaint, as was permitted by Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a) (1). Additional amendments to a complaint are permitted "only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). This rule further provides that the "court should freely give leave when justice so requires." Id. 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).
In this case, Sublett's complaint has yet to be served to any of the defendants, as his complaint is subject to the screening required by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A. Thus, at this juncture, neither the originally-named defendant nor the three proposed new defendants will be prejudiced by any amendment to the complaint. Upon consideration, Sublett's second motion to file a supplemental complaint [R. 8] will be granted, and his proposed Amended Complaint [R. 8-1] will be filed, and its screening is incorporated herein.
The Court screens civil rights complaints pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 607-08 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). This is a pro se complaint and, as such, it is held to less stringent standards than those drafted by attorneys. See Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). The allegations in a pro se complaint must be taken as true and construed in favor of the plaintiff. See Malone v. Colyer, 710 F.2d 258, 260 (6th Cir. 1983). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), a district court has authority to dismiss a case at any time if it determines either that the action is frivolous or malicious, or if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Sublett's complaint stems from an alleged incident occurring while he was naked in the bathroom during the evening of January 9, 2015. Sublett claims that Ms. Parret, a female correctional officer, stopped in the bathroom doorway and stared at his penis while he was using the bathroom. Specifically, Sublett states:
... as he entered the Bathroom in the second stall closes[t] to the entry of the doorway, Ms. Parret stop [sic] at the entrance of the bathroom doorway and starred at Sublett's penis while Sublett was urinating. Ms. Parret then took a step closer until she broke the threshold of the bathroom door, without completely entering the bathroom, at this ______, Ms. Sublett was about a foot and a half from Mr. Sublett's arm reach. On 3 different occasions while making her rounds between count and 30 minute walks, each time Ms. Parret would stop and look at Mr. Sublett's penis same position, when Sublett used the bathroom.
[R. 1, pp. 2-3]
After this incident, Sublett states that he spoke with Officer Bryant about filing a grievance against Ms. Parret for staring at him while he was naked in the bathroom and using the bathroom, and that Officer Bryant told him he could not file that grievance because Ms. Parret had stated, and the camera would show, that she only looked at him for a couple of seconds on three different occasions and that she did not stare at him. In short, Sublett claims that Officer Bryant told him that if he filed a grievance against Ms. Parret, "he would write Sublett up." [R. 4, p. 4]
Sublett filed a grievance against Ms. Parret, which resulted in his being "written up for file [sic] an [sic] complaint on Ms. Parret on 1-9-15." Id. Sublett claims that he filed a grievance against Ms. Parret because she had violated his Fourth Amendment right to privacy and that Officer Bryant issued a disciplinary report against him "to curtail plaintiff from filing an [sic] grievance and filing a civil action under 1983. The motivation behind the write-up was predicated on Sublett's 4th Amendment right to privacy." [R. 1, p. 5] In essence, Sublett claims that he was "written up" in retaliation for filing a grievance against Ms. Parret, in violation of his First Amendment right to file a grievance and access the Court without suffering retaliation. Id.
Subsequently, on March 3, 2015, Sublett filed what he describes as a PREA-grievance against another female correctional officer, Dusty McKinny, alleging in part that: "c/o Dusty McKinny came to his bed area and stared at his crotch while he was lying in bed wearing only boxer shorts." [R. 8-1, p. 1] Sublett requested: "To exercise my right to privacy and to file grievance be it a PREA Complaint verbally or on paper with[out] fear of reprisal for utilizing my 1st Amendment right, as well as the filing of this grievance." Id.
Sublett claims that on March 4, 2015, the day after he had filed a grievance against c/o Dusty McKinny, Lt. Michael Long issued a disciplinary report against him for being loud when talking to Lt. Long about McKinny and for not complying with Lt. Long's directive to stop speaking. [R. 8-1, p. 2] Thereafter, Sublett claims that on March 12, 2015, Officer Brad Adams filed a disciplinary report against him for filing a grievance against c/o Dusty McKinny because, as charged in the disciplinary report, Sublett's grievance against her was based on a falsified claim, and the incident was unfounded. [R. 8-1, p. 2]
Thereafter, Sublett states that on April 7, 2015, c/o Carroll, a Special Management Unit ("SMU") security official, came to his cell and told him to get dressed to go to classification. Sublett responded that he had not received any prior notice of being scheduled to meet with classification and that he will not get his yearly ...