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Downer v. Bolton

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

July 18, 2017

FREDDIE LEE DOWNER, JR. PLAINTIFF
v.
MARK BOLTON et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          CHARLES R. SIMPSON III, SENIOR JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This is a pro se civil rights action brought by a pretrial detainee pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff 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, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). For the reasons set forth below, the action will be dismissed in part, but Plaintiff will be allowed to amend his complaint.

         I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee at the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections (LMDC). He brings this action against LMDC Director Mark Bolton in his official capacity; the LMDC “Classification” Department; Medical Service “Healthcare CCS”; and the University of Louisville Hospital.

         Plaintiff alleges that he has been diagnosed with bipolar paranoid schizophrenia. He alleges that this mental illness caused him to jump out of a building one year ago and break multiple bones in his back and suffer from two brain bleeds and a collapsed lung. Plaintiff then states that as a result of his “classification” at LMDC, he was placed in a “high behavior dorm” instead of in a “mental health dorm.” Plaintiff alleges that he told both officers and doctors that he feared for his life and needed to be placed in the “mental health dorm.” Plaintiff states that on May 1, 2017, he got into an altercation with another inmate and was charged with assault. Plaintiff claims that this incident could have been prevented if he had been on the “right floor and been administered the proper medication.” Plaintiff further states that he is now in a single cell for 23 hours a day and that he hears voices and has suicidal thoughts. He also writes that his jaw was broken “in the jail” and he “did not get any help.” Finally, Plaintiff states that he was denied medical care at the University of Louisville Hospital because he did not have insurance.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

         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 608.

         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, 94 (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, 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 § 1983 claim will not lie.” Christy v. Randlett, 932 F.2d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 1991).

         It is well established that “[t]he Eighth Amendment forbids prison officials from unnecessarily and wantonly inflicting pain on an inmate by acting with deliberate indifference toward [his] serious medical needs.” Jones v. Muskegon Cty, 625 F.3d 935, 941 (6th Cir. 2010) (internal quotations and citations omitted).[1] A claim for deliberate indifference “has both objective and subjective components.” Alspaugh v. McConnell, 643 F.3d 162, 169 (6th Cir. 2011). The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has explained:

The objective component mandates a sufficiently serious medical need. [Blackmore v. Kalamazoo Cty., 390 F.3d 890, 895 (6th Cir.2004).] The subjective component regards prison officials' state of mind. Id. Deliberate indifference “entails something more than mere negligence, but can be satisfied by something less than acts or omissions for the very purpose of causing harm or with knowledge that harm will result.” Id. at 895-96 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The prison official must “be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Id. at 896 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

Barnett v. Luttrell, 414 F. App'x 784, 787-88 (6th Cir. 2011). Where the risk of serious harm is obvious, “it can be inferred that the defendants had knowledge of the risk.” Hendricks v. DesMarais, No. 13-4106, 2015 U.S. ...


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