United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division
MICAH M. BYAS PLAINTIFF
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY et al. DEFENDANTS
Micah M. Byas filed a pro se, in forma
pauperis complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
This matter is before the Court on initial review of the
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). For the
reasons that follow, the action will be dismissed.
names numerous Defendants. He sues the following governmental
entities: Commonwealth of Kentucky; Ballard County Court;
Carlisle County Court; Graves County Court; Ballard County
Board of Education; Ballard County Detention Center (BCDC);
Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS); and the
Department of Public Advocacy (DPA). He sues the following
Defendants in their official capacity only: Leigh Ann
Wiggins, a CHFS supervisor; and Vickie Hayden, Ballard County
Attorney. He sues the following Defendants in both their
individual and official capacities: Erica Hobbs-Mathis, a
CHFS social service worker; Ashlee Richardson, a CHFS social
service clinician; Unknown Secretary at Ballard County Board
of Education; Kevin Hoskins, Carlisle District/Circuit Court
Clerk; Amanda Brahnam, Assistant Ballard County Attorney;
Donnie Hall, Ballard County Jailer; Christina Harvell, a BCDC
lieutenant; Michael Hogancamp, Carlisle County Attorney;
Timothy A. Langford, Ballard and Carlisle Circuit Court
Judge; Angela Troutman, attorney at Public Advocacy of
Paducah; and an Unknown Defendant at the Graves County
alleges various incidents involving Defendants that occurred
primarily in 2015 and 2016. He also mentions an incident
occurring in 2002. These incidents will be detailed greater
when the Court performs its analysis of Plaintiff's
claims later in this Memorandum Opinion. See Section
relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages and
the following injunctive relief: “Purge and Educate all
Kentucky agencies of discrimination.”
Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court
must review the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).
McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 608-09 (6th
Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v.
Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). On review, a district court
must dismiss a case at any time if it determines that the
action 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. 28 U.S.C. §
is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either
in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 325 (1989). The trial court may, therefore, dismiss a
claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably
meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are
clearly baseless. Id. at 327.
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
courts are to hold pro se pleadings “to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,
” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972), this
duty to be less stringent “does not require us 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 courts “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).
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, 640 (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).
Claims against the County Defendants
claims against BCDC are actually claims against Ballard
County. See Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049
(6th Cir. 1994) (“Since the Police Department is not an
entity which may be sued, Jefferson County is the proper
party to address the allegations of Matthews's
complaint.”); Marbry v. Corr. Med. Servs., No.
99-6706, 2000 WL 1720959, at *2 (6th Cir. Nov. 6, 2000)
(holding that a jail is not an entity subject to suit under
§ 1983). Ballard County Board of Education, as a
division of local government,  may be sued directly. Banks
v. Breathitt Cty. Bd. of Educ., 925 F.Supp.2d 856, 860
(E.D. Ky. 2013) (citing Memphis Police Dep't v.
Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985)).
because “[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,
165-66 (quoting Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 n.55 (1978)), Plaintiff's
official-capacity claims against the Unknown Secretary of the
Ballard County Board of Education are actually against the
Board, and the official-capacity claims against BCDC Jailer
Hall and Lt. Harvell are actually against Ballard County.
§ 1983 claim is made against a municipality or its
school board, this Court must analyze two distinct issues:
(1) whether Plaintiff's harm was caused by a
constitutional violation; and (2) if so, whether the
municipality is responsible for that violation. Collins
v. City of Harker Heights, Tex., 503 U.S. 115, 120
(1992). “[A] municipality cannot be held liable
solely because it employs a tortfeasor -- or, in
other words, a municipality cannot be held liable under
§ 1983 on a respondeat superior theory.”
Monell, 436 U.S. at 691; Searcy v. City of
Dayton, 38 F.3d 282, 286 (6th Cir. 1994); Berry
v. City of Detroit, 25 F.3d 1342, 1345 (6th Cir. 1994).
“[T]he touchstone of ‘official policy' is
designed ‘to distinguish acts of the
municipality from acts of employees of the
municipality, and thereby make clear that municipal liability
is limited to action for which the municipality is actually
responsible.'” City of St. Louis v.
Praprotnik, 485 U.S. 112, 138 (1988) (quoting
Pembaur v. Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469, 479-80 (1986)).
To demonstrate municipal liability, a plaintiff “must
(1) identify the municipal policy or custom, (2) connect the
policy to the municipality, and (3) show that his particular
injury was incurred due to execution of that policy.”
Alkire v. Irving, 330 F.3d 802, 815 (6th Cir. 2003)
(citing Garner v. Memphis Police Dep't, 8 F.3d
358, 364 (6th Cir. 1993)); see also Richardson v. Bd. of
Educ. of Jefferson Cty. Kentucky, No. 3:04-CV-386R, 2006
WL 2726777, at *7 (W.D. Ky. Sept. 22, 2006) (“A
municipality or school board may be held accountable for the
actions of their employees only if these actions stem from
officially executed policy, or the toleration of a custom
that leads to, causes, or results in the deprivation of a
constitutionally protected right.”) (citations
Plaintiff fails to allege a policy or custom of Ballard
County or the Board of Education that caused his alleged
harm. For this reason, the claims against BCDC and the
Ballard County Board of Education and the official-capacity
claims against the Unknown Secretary, Jailer Hall, and Lt.
Harvell must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted.
Claims against the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Ballard County
Court,  Carlisle County Court, Graves
County Court, CHFS,  and
DPA and the Official-Capacity
Claims for Damages against the Commonwealth's Officers
Eleventh Amendment “bars all suits, whether for
injunctive, declaratory or monetary relief, against the state
and its departments, ” Thiokol Corp. v. Dep't
of Treasury, State of Mich., Revenue Div., 987 F.2d 376,
381 (6th Cir. 1993), unless Congress has validly abrogated
the state's immunity or the state has waived its
immunity. Nev. Dep't of Human Res. v. Hibbs, 538
U.S. 721, 726 (2003); Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 78l,
782 (1978). The Commonwealth of Kentucky has not waived its
immunity, see Adams v. Morris, 90 F. App'x 856,
857 (6th Cir. 2004), and in enacting § 1983, Congress
did not intend to override the traditional sovereign immunity
of the states. Whittington v. Milby, 928 F.2d 188,
193-94 (6th Cir. 1991) (citing Quern v. Jordan, 440
U.S. 332, 341 (1979)). The Eleventh Amendment, therefore,
bars this § 1983 action against the Commonwealth of
Kentucky, Ballard County Court, Carlisle County Court, Graves
County Court, CHFS, and DPA.
[Eleventh Amendment] bar remains in effect when State
officials are sued for damages in their official
capacity.” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. at
169. Consequently, the official-capacity claims for damages
against the following Defendants also are barred by the
Eleventh Amendment: CHFS workers Hobbs-Mathis, Richardson,
and Wiggins; Carlisle County Circuit/District Court Clerk
Hoskins; Ballard County Attorney Hayden and Assistant County
Attorney Brahnam; Carlisle County Attorney Hogancamp; Ballard
and Carlisle Circuit Court Judge Langford; and the Unknown
Defendant at the Graves County Circuit Court.
addition, “neither a State nor its officials acting in
their official capacities are ‘persons' under
§ 1983.” Will v. Mich. Dep't of State
Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989).
the claims against the Commonwealth of Kentucky, its courts,
CHFS, DPA, and their officers and employees are barred by the
Eleventh Amendment and fail ...