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Jackson v. Coyn

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

May 31, 2017



          David J. Hale, Judge United States District Court.

         Plaintiff, Mark Anthony Jackson, II, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, initiated this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action by filing a complaint. 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 following reasons, portions of the complaint will be dismissed, and Plaintiff will have the opportunity to amend with regard to the remainder of the claims.


         At the time he filed his complaint, Plaintiff was a convicted inmate incarcerated at the Kentucky State Reformatory (KSR). He names as Defendants the following employees of KSR: Deputy Warden James Coyn; Sgt. Strout; Unit Administrator (U.A.) Grievous; ten unknown correctional officers; Correctional Officer (C.O.) Smitty; C.O. Franklin; Sgt. Franklin; Lt. Rohman; and C.O. Rodriguez. He sues each Defendant in his or her individual and official capacities.

         Plaintiff alleges that on December 19, 2016, he was “chained to a wall” from around 5:00 pm until about 9:00 pm “due to medical wouldn't do my intake screening. CPP says its suppose to be done within 2 hours.” He states, “Sgt. Franklin knew I didn't eat even staff told him. I was given wet bread, thin slice meat and apple which was diebetic snack that set in floor room temperature for hours.” He alleges that “after I was off watch 12-20-2016 I was denied blanket, bed linens, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap then at shower time could not shower due to they refused to give me a towel to dry off with or soap unable to shower for a week 2 different times.” He states that on January 2, 2017, he was told “use soap in shower floor that inmates used or nothing.”

         Plaintiff states that on December 21, 2016, he told C.O. Smitty that he was having thoughts of self harm and that C.O. Smitty told him to “lay down no one is moving to tough it out tonight so I end up doing self harm later that night show C.O. Rodriguze he ignores it. Nurse Raven tells him at med pass to document it and I should not be in cell but upstairs on watch.”

         Plaintiff was placed on “15 min. watch due to self harm.” He alleges that the cell was dirty with food on the wall, “pee” on the floor and mat, dried blood on the mat and a dirty sink. He alleges that because everyone gets a paper spoon on “watch” he had to use his fingers to eat soup, salad, beans and potatoes. He states that U.A. Grievous made a comment about his body while he watched him urinate and then took his blanket from him. He states that C.O. Rodriguez tried to get him to undress. Plaintiff alleges that he was denied “lawyer calls. Was denied 2 days to report PREA [Prison Rape Elimination Act] incident.” Plaintiff next alleges that on December 29, 2016, he was placed “in cell with no plumbing in sink water covered floor clear to door wouldn't move me or clean cell.” He states he was kept there from 10:00 pm on December 29, 2016, until 2:30 pm the next day.

         Plaintiff finally alleges that he “was threaten by staff no matter if I cuffed up if I caused self harm they would spray me [pepper spray] shoot me with pepper ball gun etc. which would be excessive force.” As relief, Plaintiff asks for monetary damages, transfer to another prison, and “suspend staff involved.”

         II. ANALYSIS

         When a prisoner initiates a civil action seeking redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee, the trial court must review the complaint and dismiss the action, 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 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) and (2). 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 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. When determining whether a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court must construe the complaint in a light most favorable to Plaintiff and accept all of the factual allegations as true. Prater v. City of Burnside, Ky., 289 F.3d 417, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). While a reviewing court must liberally construe pro se pleadings, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam), to avoid dismissal, a complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         A. Official-capacity claims

         “Official-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)). Because 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. at 166. 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). Thus, because Plaintiff seeks money damages from state officers or employees in their official capacities, he fails to allege cognizable claims under § 1983. Additionally, the Eleventh Amendment acts as a bar to claims for monetary damages against Defendants in their official capacities. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. at 169. Therefore, Plaintiff's official-capacity claims for monetary damages against Defendants will be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and for seeking monetary relief from Defendants who are immune from such relief.

         Although in certain circumstances a suit against a state employee for injunctive relief may be allowed under the fiction created by Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908), in order to prevent future constitutional violations, since filing his complaint Plaintiff has been transferred to another institution, making his requests for injunctive relief moot. See Kensu v. Haigh, 87 F.3d 172, 175 (6th Cir. 1996) (holding a prisoner's claim for declaratory and injunctive relief becomes moot upon his transfer to a different facility).

         B. ...

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