United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. MCKINLEY, JR., CHIEF JUDGE
Jessie Mullins, a prisoner presently incarcerated in the
Kentucky State Reformatory (KSR), filed a pro se
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (DN 1). The Court
has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. 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 dismiss KSR and the claims against it and
dismiss the official-capacity claims for monetary damages
against Defendants Smith, St. Clair, and Ballard. The
remaining failure-to-protect claims will proceed against
Defendants Smith, St. Clair, and Ballard.
SUMMARY OF CLAIMS
identifies the following four Defendants in this action: (1)
KSR; (2) Aaron Smith, the Warden at KSR; (3) Travis St.
Clair, Sr., a Captain at KSR; and (4) Rodney Ballard, the
Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Corrections
(KDOC). Plaintiff sues Defendants in their individual and
official capacities. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages,
punitive damages, recovery of costs, and to be
“[p]rotect[ed] from Assault.”
describes himself as having “one leg or limb
missing” and being “medically disabled.” He
states that on the morning of December 9, 2016, two
“Caucasian inmate's assaulted [him] with a wooden
cane's while [he] was sleeping in [his] bed in the DAL
Dorm A, bed 9.” According to Plaintiff, one cane used
in the assault broke in half and was left on the floor.
Plaintiff states that it was “ultimately
discovered” that the cane belonged to “the Next
door inmate.” Plaintiff states that his
“assailants took that cane and assaulted [him] with
it.” According to Plaintiff, during the assault another
inmate started yelling which alerted Unit Administrator (UA)
Grieves prompting him to inquire as to what happened.
Plaintiff represents that he informed UA Grieves that he had
been assaulted and showed UA Grieves his bleeding head.
Plaintiff states that he was taken to the segregation medical
unit, treated, and had pictures taken of his head, and he was
then released back to his “bed area.”
states that the “DAL does not have hourly security
supervision because of 220 Guards are short at KSR.”
Specifically, according to Plaintiff, there are no guards on
duty in the DAL dorm on Friday and Saturday. Plaintiff states
that general population inmates “walk freely in and out
of the DAL without impairment.” Plaintiff contends that
this lack of guards places him and other inmates “at
high risk to be assaulted.”
states that on December 23, 2016, he filed a grievance about
the lack of security and the fact that he had been assaulted.
Apparently in response to the grievance, Defendant St. Clair
stated that the “DAL security officer is not
responsible for violence that may occur between
inmates” and that an officer was assigned to DAL.
Plaintiff comments that Defendant St. Clair failed to state
that the officer on duty was also “working [the]
Segregation Unit.” According to Plaintiff, upon review
of the grievance, Defendant Smith concurred with Defendant
St. Clair. Plaintiff states that Defendant Ballard does
“not care about Personal Safety or Protection from
Inmate Assault at [KSR]. He do not care and look the other
way. . . . KSR is a battlefield daily.” Plaintiff
further states that “[s]ecurity at KSR is very bad and
they do not Applying the Standards policy of [KDOC].”
lists several assertions about the security conditions at KSR
which he asserts contributed to him being assaulted. These
include the following: (1) KSR fails to separate “the
particularly violent or vulnerable, though prison officials
are required always to separate inmate that are in a
gangs”; (2) KSR fails to “provide adequate
supervision of inmates”; (3) KSR overly relies on
“open dormitory housing”; (4) KSR is overcrowded;
(5) KSR fails to “take corrective action in response to
high rates of assault or to particular patterns of
Assault”; (6) KSR places inmates in reasonable fear for
their safety because of the pervasive violence; (7) KSR has a
very high rate of assault, and Defendant Smith ‘look[s]
the other way”; and (8) inmates incarcerated at KSR are
“routinely subjected to violence, extortion, and
Assault” which the guards are aware of but fail to
respond to or ask Defendant Ballard for more guards.
fails to state what claims he is asserting. Notwithstanding
this failure, the Court construes the complaint as alleging a
failure-to-protect claim against all Defendants.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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.
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)).
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 Nat.
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).