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Jackson v. Coyne

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

June 27, 2017

MARK A. JACKSON PLAINTIFF
v.
DEPUTY WARDEN JAMES COYNE DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          THOMAS B. RUSSELL, SENIOR JUDGE.

         This is a civil rights action brought by a convicted prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff Mark A. Jackson 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, 594 U.S. 199 (2007). For the reasons set forth below, the action will be dismissed in part and allowed to continue in part.

         I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff brings this action against five Kentucky State Reformatory (KSR) employees in both their official and individual capacities: Deputy Warden James Coyne; “CTO [Caseworker]” Heather Horn; “Name Unknown, Inmate Account Staff;” “Name Unknown, Unit Administrator;” and “Name Unknown, Mail Room Staff.”

         Plaintiff first alleges that he showed Defendant Horn a letter from the “U.S. courts” which revealed that he had a January 30, 2017 deadline to “get a six-month statement.” Plaintiff states that “inmate accounts responded back with I need to send Court Papers to get statement. When I done so inmate accounts made copy of court papers kept original. Sent me copy and denied me six month statement.”

         Plaintiff next alleges that at the end of January 2017, as he was preparing a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 form to send “to the courts, ” Defendant Horn told him “she could fill out the last page Form C on that packet.” Plaintiff states that when Defendant Horn did so, she noticed Defendant Coyne's name on the “court papers.” Plaintiff alleges that she then entered the office with Defendant Coyne and that Defendant Coyne asked Plaintiff why Plaintiff was suing him. Plaintiff claims that this question shows that Defendants Horn and Coyne read his “court papers” outside of his presence.

         Finally, Plaintiff alleges that on February 3, 2017, he was allowed to read the legal mail he received on this date but was then required to give it to his unit administrator because he was not allowed to have it in the special management unit. Plaintiff further states that he was not allowed to sign the legal mail log sheet for this piece of mail and that, as of February 6, 2017, “no one knows” where this piece of mail is.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks punitive damages and injunctive relief to “suspend staff involved” and “transfer to another prison where [Plaintiff] can get proper legal services.”

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         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 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. ...


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