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White v. Hendricks

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky

December 20, 2016

SCOTT EVERETT WHITE, PLAINTIFF
v.
CAPT. HENDRICKS et al., DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., Chief Judge

         This is a civil rights action brought by a convicted prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff Scott Everett White leave to proceed in forma pauperis. 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.

         I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff was formerly incarcerated at the Henderson County Detention Center (HCDC). He brings this action against HCDC “Capt. Hendricks” and an “unknown deputy” of the Henderson County Sheriff's Department. He indicates that he is suing these two Defendants in their official capacities.

         In his complaint, Plaintiff states as follows:

On 5/28/16 at approx. 9-11 a.m. a search was conducted at [HCDC]. The search was done by a Sheriff Deputy and his K-9. During this search, the Deputy had his firearm on his person. I asked Capt. Hendricks why the Deputy had his weapon on him and I was instructed to keep quiet. I felt unsafe because the Deputy had his weapon on his person in the facility. Cameras in the facility will show he had his weapon on his person. I wrote a grievance and it was responded to stating: “Acknowledged and will relay info the Sheriff.” I have a copy of the grievance. Capt. Hendricks is in charge of facility where I was being housed and he allowed Deputy in with his firearm and continued to allow this even after the situation was brought to his attention.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner seeking relief against governmental entities, officers, and/or employees, the court must review the instant action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under § 1915A, the trial court must review the complaint and dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, 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 § 1915A(b)(1), (2); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d at 604. 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] 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)). “[A] pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). However, while liberal, this standard of review does require more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions. See Columbia Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995). The court's duty “does not require [it] to conjure up unpled allegations, ” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979), or to create a claim for a 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).

         III. ANALYSIS

         “Section 1983 creates no substantive rights, but merely provides remedies for deprivations of rights established elsewhere.” Flint ex rel. Flint v. Ky. Dep't of Corr., 270 F.3d 340, 351 (6th Cir. 2001). Two elements are required to state a claim under § 1983. Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635 (1980). “[A] plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). “Absent either element, a section 1983 claim will not lie.” Christy v. Randlett, 932 F.2d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 1991).

         A. Official-Capacity Claims

         “[O]fficial-capacity suits . . .‘generally represent another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent.'” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985) (quoting Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 n.55 (1978)). Thus, Plaintiff's official-capacity claims against both Defendants are actually against Henderson County. See Lambert v. Hartman, 517 F.3d 433, 440 (6th Cir. 2008) (stating that ...


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