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McKinney v. Napier

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

May 24, 2017

ANGELA NAPIER et al., Defendants.


          David J. Hale, Judge

         Plaintiff Robert Willis McKinney, an inmate incarcerated at Northpoint Training Center (hereinafter NTC), filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (DN 1). This matter is before the Court for initial review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 608 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). For the reasons that follow, the Court will allow (1) the retaliation claims against Defendants Napier and Wagiel based on their filing of false disciplinary charges against Plaintiff and (2) the legal mail claim against Defendant Wagiel to proceed. All other claims and Defendants will be dismissed from this action.


         Plaintiff names the following four Defendants in this action: (1) Angela Napier, a former Correctional Officer at NTC; (2) Michelle Wagiel, an Officer at NTC; (3) Charles Wilkerson, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (hereinafter PREA) Coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Corrections (hereinafter KDOC); and (4) Rodney Ballard, the Commissioner for the KDOC. Plaintiff sues Defendants only in their individual capacities. As relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary and punitive damages against Defendants Napier and Wagiel. As to Defendants Wilkerson and Ballard, he seeks the Court to declare that Plaintiff “has a state created ‘Liberty Interest' in the CPP (Corrections Policies and Procedures) 3.22 and CPP 14.7 to be protected and treated as any PREA, 2003 victim.” Further, he seeks the Court to declare that CPP 3.22 and CPP 14.7 create “a ‘LIBERTY INTEREST' for all Kentucky inmates.”

         According to Plaintiff, Defendant Napier, while she was employed as a Correctional Officer at NTC, had a relationship with an inmate. Such relationship, Plaintiff states, was against “policy due to the fact she was a Correctional Officer and he an State Inmate.” Plaintiff believes that Defendant Napier

had reason to believe Plaintiff was aware of her actions and had started to take action against Plaintiff by filing false Displinary Reports and making unfounded claims concerning Plaintiff, thus attempting to have Plaintiff placed into segregation or try have his movement restricted from the area that she and [the inmate] preformed thier actions at, (LEGAL LIBRARY) in an attempt to hide her actions from the Plaintiff. She would call the Plaintiff offensive names, make fun of him for being an homosexual, deny him materials available to other inmates. She would yell at and disrespect Plaintiff on a daily basis. Her discrimination of the Plaintiff caused mental problems and caused pain due to the PTSD Plaintiff suffers from and is being treated for by method of medications and therpy.

         Plaintiff states that he filed a complaint about the improper relationship between Defendant Napier and the inmate with Stephine Hughes, the Unit Administrator and the PREA monitor for NTC. Plaintiff's allegation, he represents, was confirmed through “video recorded evidence” resulting in Defendant Napier being “dismissed as a Correctional Officer due to the violation of the policy CPP 3.22 & CPP 14.7.” According to Plaintiff, Ms. Hughes “made sure the Displinary Reports was removed from Plaintiff's record.” Plaintiff states that Ms. Hughes “filed the report as inmate requested as a [PREA] violation.” Plaintiff states that “this request was later DENIED, ” and “Plaintiff filed a ‘Grievance' concerning the failure to comply with Policy CPP 14.7 and CPP 3.22.”

         Plaintiff asserts that CPP 14.7 and CPP 3.22 were created by the state in compliance with the PREA. Plaintiff states that the policies grant him “a ‘liberty interest' in the ‘State Created Rights' contained within.” Plaintiff states that denial of the protections contained in these policies violated the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff states that Warden Bottoms denied his grievance regarding this matter and that Defendant Ballard denied the appeal of the grievance.

         Plaintiff states that Defendant Napier has a son that works for Aramark Food Service and a cousin who is a Unit Administrator at NTC. Plaintiff asserts that because of these relatives working at the Kentucky prisons “retaliation monitoring and completing the investigation would have been appropriate.” Plaintiff states that the inmate involved in the sexual relationship with Defendant Napier was transferred to another facility, but Plaintiff requested he be placed on a no-contact list so that Plaintiff would not run the risk of being assaulted by him in the future, but this request was denied.

         Plaintiff also alleges wrongdoing by Defendant Wagiel. Plaintiff states that he went to the legal library to pick up some legal mail. Plaintiff represents that he stood in a long line, but when he got to the front of the line, Defendant Wagiel “announced she had to use the rest room and shut down the legal mail give out line.” When she returned, Plaintiff states that he got back in the line. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Wagiel had him sign the receipt indicating that he had received the legal mail. Plaintiff states that Defendant Wagiel

opened one letter and gave [Plaintiff] the letter that was enclosed and retained the envelope and stated [Plaintiff] was not allowed to have the envelope that the address was printed on the letter it's self, second letter from [Plaintiff's] attorney she had [Plaintiff] to sign [Plaintiff] had received it and she opened the letter in front of [Plaintiff], started to pull the content out and part way she seen the name ‘NAPIER' printed very large and stopped pulling it out, she looked at [Plaintiff] and stated she didn't have time to give it to [Plaintiff] and that [Plaintiff] would be able to get it tomorrow, [Plaintiff] protested that it was privledged mail and she had [Plaintiff] to sign [Plaintiff] had already received it and that it was open now, why do you not hand it to [Plaintiff]. She refused. This was just days after [Defendant] Napier had been fired . . . . [Defendants] Napier and Wagiel work posts that was side by side and was around each other alot and it would not be a stretch of circumstances to state they had become to know each other and was friendly toward each other. [Defendant] Wagiel had become very harassive toward [Plaintiff] in the days after [Defendant] Napier had been dismissed, in fact she had lodged a displinary report against [Plaintiff] earlier in the day concerning a another service she had denied [Plaintiff] with no reason, this report was later dismissed due to being found untruthful. The disrespectful manner in her treatment towards [Plaintiff] continued. . . . In this time frame she had made comments and slurs concerning homosexuals “minding their own business”, made [Plaintiff] feel threatened due to the fraudulent actions she attempted to take against [Plaintiff] that would have deprived [Plaintiff] of freedom and good time loss if an PREA INVESTIGATOR had not took the time to look at the camera footage that confirmed [Plaintiff's] statement.

         Plaintiff contends that Defendant Wagiel wanted to read Plaintiff's legal mail when she saw the name Napier on the document. Plaintiff states that he filed a grievance about this matter and that the grievance committee chairman “fraudulently stated [Defendant Wagiel] had followed the legal mail policy CPP 14.4.” Plaintiff states that the retaliatory actions against him caused him “real fear, personal humiliation, mental anguish and suffering.” Plaintiff states that her actions violated the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments as well as the liberty interest created by 28 C.F.R. § 115.67, CPP 14.7, and CPP 3.22.

         Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Wilkerson failed to properly train and instruct the “local/institutional level PREA staff to lawfully maintain claims and reporting policies, and monitoring.” Plaintiff states that Defendant Wilkerson “fails to follow the Federal Program, he manipulates the state reports to the Federal Administrator of the Grant to the state by training the investigators at the local level to not follow the program requirements to create the illusion that there are fewer Staff on Inmate PREA accounts than there actually are in reality.” Plaintiff states that Defendant Wilkerson is the one who “made the final decision to refuse the retaliation monitoring in both case[s]” that Plaintiff had requested. He further states that “[t]he retaliation is clear due to [him] filing a grievance on the matter.” Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Ballard “by his responses and lack of action shows he has a clear negligent indifference to this issue.” According to Plaintiff, “failure to report a crime as these two have done in this case in others seems to be a crime.” Plaintiff states that he has endured “retaliation, suffering, humiliation, anguish and his lack of training or consorting to violate the directives of this Ferderal Program to protect me and others has violated my FIRST, FIFTH AND FOURTEENTH § AMENDMENTS as well as my Liberty Interest in the CPP 14.7, CPP 3.22.”


         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner seeking relief against governmental entities, officers, and/or employees, this 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 608.

         A claim 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. 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)). “But the district court need not accept a ‘bare assertion of legal conclusions.'” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d at 488 (quoting 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 ...

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