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Ray v. Michelle

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Ashland

July 2, 2015

THOMAS RAY, III, a/k/a THOMAS RAY, [1], Plaintiff,
MICHELLE, et al., Defendants.


DAVID L. BUNNING, District Judge.

Plaintiff Thomas Ray, III, is an inmate confined by BOP in the United States Penitentiary ("USP")-Coleman II, located in Coleman, Florida. In January 2015, Ray submitted a pro se civil rights complaint [R. 1], asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Carter County Detention Center ("CCDC") located in Grayson, Kentucky; three CCDC officials; and an unidentified officer employed by the Carter County Sheriff's Office, described only as an "unknown Officer that works at the Jail."[2] Ray alleges that when he was confined in the CCDC as a pre-trial detainee, the defendants violated his constitutional rights by failing to provide him with medical supplies which he required; failing to properly treat his medical condition which required that he wear a catheter; and subjecting him to verbal abuse and offensive racial slurs.

The Court conducts a preliminary review of Ray's § 1983 complaint [R. 1], his amended complaint [R. 17, ] and his various supplemental filings, because he has been granted in forma pauperis status in this action, see R. 10, and because he asserts claims against government officials. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A. Because Ray is proceeding without an attorney, 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).

The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects prisoners from cruel and unusual punishment, and pretrial detainees are similarly protected under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Kingsley v. Hendrickson, ___ S.Ct. ___, 2015 WL 2473447, at *8 (U.S. June 22, 2015); Carl v. Muskegon County, 763 F.3d 592 (6th Cir. 2014); Phillips v. Roane Cnty., Tenn., 534 F.3d 531, 539 (6th Cir. 2008). Because Ray was confined as a pre-trial detainee in the CCDC when the alleged events occurred, his constitutional claims must be analyzed under the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause.

One of the key issues in this proceeding is whether Ray's § 1983 claims are barred by Kentucky's one-year statute of limitation set forth in Ky. Rev. Stat. § 413.140(1)(a), which applies to both personal injury and § 1983 civil rights actions. In his amended complaint [R. 17], Ray states that he does not know when the alleged events at the CCDC (about which he complains) happened; put another way, he alleges that he does not know when his constitutional claims against the CCDC defendants arose. However, as explained below, handwritten documents which Ray filed in his West Virginia federal criminal proceeding - of which this Court takes judicial notice - clearly establish that his Fourteenth Amendment claims arose at the earliest on March 5, 2013, and certainly by May 1, 2013, and at the latest, on December 19, 2013. Thus, because the last date on which Ray's § 1983 claims could have arisen was December 19, 2013, Ray had until December 19, 2014, in which to file suit on his claims. Since Ray did not file this action in the Western District until January 5, 2015, his § 1983 claims are barred by Kentucky's one-year of statute of limitations.

Accordingly, Ray's Fourteenth Amendment claims challenging the sufficiency of the medical treatment which he received as a pre-trial detainee in the CCDC will be dismissed, as they are barred by the applicable one-year statute of limitations. Alternatively, because the Court concludes that under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), Ray's Fourteenth Amendment claims against the CCDC defendants fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, his claims will also be dismissed for that reason.


1. Ray's West Virginia criminal case

On February 5, 2013, a criminal complaint was filed in federal court in Huntington, West Virginia, charging Ray with being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g) and 924(a)(2). United States v. Thomas Ray, III, No. 3:13-CR-61-1 (S.D. W.Va. 2013) ("the Federal Case") [R. 1, therein]. The next day, Ray was arrested by federal authorities. [R. 5, therein].

On February 11, 2013, a preliminary/detention hearing was conducted in the Federal Case, the minutes of which reveal that at 14:20:50 p.m., Ray's attorney, Nicholas E. Mayo, had a "Discussion about Defendant's medical problems with the court." [R. 8 therein, p. 2]. On that same date, the West Virginia district court entered an Order finding probable cause to believe that Ray committed the § 922(g) offense charged in the criminal complaint. [R. 11, therein]. The district court ordered Ray to remain in detention, given his extensive criminal history; the fact that he was on supervised release at the time of his arrest on February 6, 2013; the fact that the offense charged in the criminal complaint was a serious crime involving the possession of a firearm; and the fact that he had no work or family ties to West Virginia, all of which were factors that created a substantial risk of flight. [ Id., pp. 2-3]. On February 26, 2015, Ray was indicted in the Federal Case, charged with two counts of illegal firearm possession in violation of § 922(g). [R. 13-14, therein].

Ray was arraigned on March 5, 2013, and the minutes of that proceeding reflect that Ray's counsel requested that the Detention Hearing be re-opened "... because of new medical conditions." [R. 16, p. 2; 10:57:09]. On that same date, Ray submitted a handwritten letter in the Federal Case, in which he asked to be released from custody, alleging that he suffered from medical difficulties which required outside treatment. [R. 17, therein].

On March 7, 2013, the district court re-opened the detention hearing to address Ray's request for release based on his stated medical condition(s). [R. 21, therein]. At the conclusion of the hearing, the district court entered an order finding that Ray's detention in the custody of the United States Marshals Service ("USMS") would continue, pending resolution of the criminal proceeding. [R. 22, therein]. That Order stated as follows:

After providing Defendant with an opportunity to present his arguments, the Court allowed the Government to respond. The Government indicated that Defendant's medical concerns were being directly addressed by Deputy Marshal Pursell. The Government also reported that an appointment had been scheduled for Defendant to be examined by a specialist and that, in the meantime, both a nurse ...

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