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Harvey v. Skaggs

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green

June 1, 2015

FRANCES SKAGGS et al., Defendants.


GREG N. STIVERS, District Judge.

Plaintiff Shanae Harvey filed the instant pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action proceeding in forma pauperis. This matter is before the Court on initial review of the action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Upon initial review, for the reasons set forth herein, the Court will dismiss some of Plaintiff's claims and allow others to proceed.


Plaintiff is a convicted inmate currently incarcerated at the Henderson County Detention Center. Her complaint arises out of her previous incarceration at the Hart County Jail. She sues the following personnel of the Hart County Jail: Deputy Frances Skaggs; Correctional Officer Monica Arnett; Jailer Georgia Gardenia; and Correctional Officer Gertrude Rowlett. She sues each Defendant in her individual and official capacity.

Plaintiff states that she was "treated unfairly, with inhumane, cruel & unusual punishment" concerning an incident on February 10, 2014. She maintains that Defendants Skaggs and Rowlett "failed to serve me with disciplinary action." Plaintiff cites Ky. Rev. Stat. § 344.450. She states that she filed a grievance with Jailer Gardenia and never got a response. She also reports that she asked Defendant Arnett and a non-Defendant and "was told that I was on disciplinary, and that some one will get with me." She states that she "never got a response." Plaintiff states that "per rules and regs of jail when two inmates get into confrontation both inmates are to be put in holding cell." She states, "Discrimination had been broken at this time because of the color of my skin or that I was black. I was tortured by staff, while the other inmate was left in general population."

Plaintiff further represents that while she was at Hart County Jail she "was afraid to speak, because I witnessed so much bad and awful things happening to other inmates as well. I hear beatings all the time, and I also witnessed beating, and cruel punishment towards other inmates."

As to the specifics of the February 10, 2014, incident, Plaintiff reports that she was getting out of the shower when she got into an argument with two other inmates, one of whom was a pod worker. She states that Defendants Skaggs and Rowlett came into the room with three male officers. Plaintiff maintains that Defendant Skaggs asked the inmates what happened and the other two inmates told their side of the story but Plaintiff was not given an opportunity to tell hers. She was walked by the officers to a holding cell. She states, "I kept saying that's not fair you didn't hear what I had to say your just listing to pod worker. I didn't do nothing wrong to be in here.'" Plaintiff again maintains that the Hart County Jail's rules and regulations state that, when two inmates have an argument, both are to be locked up, but she was the only inmate sent to a holding cell. When she was put in the holding cell, Defendant Skaggs told her to shut up. Plaintiff states that she was angry so she yelled at the pod worker, "I'm in here because of you, you fat bi***.'" Then Plaintiff states as follows:

Immediately after I said this Mrs. Skaggs came back a peppered sprayed me, there was absolutely no reason for this. 1st of all I didn't do anything to deserve this and 2nd I never disrespected or threaten authority. My eyes and face started burning, I completely went into panic mode. I told the deputys why did she spray me it burned it burned they all started laughing saying "that's what its suppose to do." The water faucet wasn't working right, and the toilet was full of feces & urine. I tried to use water from faucet for my face and it would burn worse than before because it was hot water. I tried to flush toilet but it wouldn't flush. I tried to tell authority that I need clean water and that the toilet was full of feces and bacteria. I was forced to splash the toilet nasty infected water in my face and it still didn't help. The officers laughed and made fun of me. Ms. Rowlett told me "I've been through worst." She did bring me a towel after a while and take me to shower room but water was hot fast there too so I suffered paniced, cried, choked, for no reason, because Mrs. Skaggs chose to spray me.
As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.


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 the court 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. See § 1915A(b)(1), (2); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). 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 the plaintiff and accept all of the factual allegations as true. Prater v. City of Burnside, Ky., 289 F.3d 417, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). 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 claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "[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, 561 F.3d at 488 (quoting Columbia Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995)).

Although this Court recognizes that pro se pleadings are to be held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991), "[o]ur duty to be less stringent' with pro se complaints does not require us to conjure up unpled allegations." McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation omitted). And this Court is not required to create a claim for 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).


Placement in holding cell without disciplinary ...

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