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Curtis v. Bradford

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah

February 21, 2017



          Greg N. Stivers, Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court upon three motions filed by pro se Plaintiff Tori T. Curtis - a motion requesting that his complaint not be dismissed (DN 31); a motion “to be able to sue defendants in their official capacity” (DN 34); and a motion to supplement his complaint (DN 35). The Court will consider each of these motions in turn.


         Plaintiff is a convicted prisoner incarcerated at Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP). He initiated this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on April 25, 2016, by filing suit against four KSP officials in both their individual and official capacities. Upon its initial review of Plaintiff's complaint and first amended complaint, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's official and individual-capacity claims against every Defendant except Defendant Bradford, against whom the Court allowed an individual-capacity retaliation claim to proceed.

         Plaintiff then filed a second amended complaint against the same Defendants (DN 23). The Court conducted its screening of this amended complaint on December 15, 2016, and allowed Plaintiff's newly stated retaliation claims to proceed against the other three Defendants - Defendants Warden White, Paris, and Morrison (DN 27).


         In Plaintiff's first motion, he states as follows: “I realize that my 21 days has past to respond on the defendant asking that the complaint be dismissed.” He then explains that he did not timely respond to Defendants' “motion” because he was placed in protective custody for several days and did not have access to his legal materials. However, a review of the record reveals that Defendants have not filed a motion to dismiss or any other motion. For this reason, Plaintiff's motion requesting that his complaint not be dismissed will be denied as moot.


         In this motion, Plaintiff asks the Court to allow him to sue the named Defendants in their official capacities. Thus, it is essentially a motion to reconsider the Court's first initial review in which it dismissed the official-capacity claims against all Defendants.

         The Court may reconsider interlocutory orders under either Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) or its inherent, common law authority to control the administration of the case before it. Rodriguez v. Tenn. Laborers Health & Welfare Fund, 89 F. App'x 949, 959 (6th Cir. 2004); Mallory v. Eyrich, 922 F.2d 1273, 1282 (6th Cir. 1991); see also Simmerman v. Ace Bayou Corp., 304 F.R.D. 516, 518 (E.D. Ky. 2015). Reconsideration of an interlocutory order is appropriate where “there is (1) an intervening change of controlling law; (2) new evidence available; or (3) a need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice.” Louisville/ Jefferson Cty. Metro Gov't v., L.P., 590 F.3d 381, 389 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Rodriguez, 89 F. App'x at 959) (internal quotation marks omitted). The standard vests the Court with “significant discretion.” Rodriguez, 89 F. App'x at 959 n.7.

         Plaintiff seems to argue that the Court's decision dismissing his official-capacity claims constitutes a “manifest injustice.” He writes:

[The Defendants'] employer “Department of Corrections” has trained all of the Defendants to do their jobs and to be able to make professional decisions, to see what is right an what is wrong, what to write up an inmate for and what doesn't need to be wrote up. After these individuals has been trained an hired “Department of Corrections” is left with the decision if they feel or think this person is professional or not. So it makes those head-over Department of Corrections a participant!! . . . I am asking the Court to please allow me to sue all of the Defendants in their official capacity which their employer is those over D.O.C. “Department of Corrections.” . . . . I the Plaintiff do respectfully ask the Court have all of the defendants and the head of Department of Corrections to each pay for all of the pain inflicted on me an them violating my constitutional rights. . . .

         However, despite Plaintiff's allegations and argument regarding the Kentucky Department of Corrections and his desire to sue the four Defendants in their official capacities, the law simply does not permit such. As the Court explained in its first initial review (DN 15), because all Defendants are employees or officers of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the claims brought against them in their official capacities are deemed claims against the Commonwealth of Kentucky. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985). State officials sued in their official capacities for money damages are not “persons” subject to suit under § 1983. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). In addition, the Eleventh Amendment acts as a bar to claims for monetary damages against state officials in their official capacities. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. at 169. Thus, because Plaintiff seeks only monetary damages, the Court finds that his official-capacity claims against all Defendants were properly dismissed, and that his motion for reconsideration must be denied.


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