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Cooper v. Vinson

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

August 9, 2017




         Plaintiff Michael Cooper, a prisoner incarcerated in the Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP), filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (DN 1). Thereafter, he filed a supplemental complaint (DN 6). This matter is before the Court on initial screening of the complaint and supplemental complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons that follow, the Court will dismiss a portion of the claims and allow the rest to continue.


         A. Complaint (DN 1)

         In the complaint, Plaintiff sues the following Defendants in their individual and official capacities: H. Chris Vinson, KSP Mailroom Lieutenant; Randy White, KSP Warden; Steven Ford, KSP Deputy Warden of Security; Tonya Grey, KSP Psychologist; Stafford Easterling, Attorney for the Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC) and KSP; Melissa Edmonds, KSP Medical Secretary; Skyla Grief, KSP Deputy Warden of Programs; Teresa Peters, KSP Open Records Clerk; Correct Care Solutions (CCS); and “CCS Jeff.”

         In the complaint, Plaintiff essentially raises five claims. First, Plaintiff reports filing an earlier action, Civil Action No. 5:15CV-P249-TBR. As to that action, Plaintiff reports that on September 30, 2016, he received a “Response To Motion For Preliminary Injunction” from Defendant Attorney Easterling. Plaintiff asserts that in the response, Defendant Easterling contacted Defendants Grief and Edmonds and “suggested they open my medical records to defend themselves against my allegation.” Plaintiff claims, “upon receiving defendants counsel's motion I seen that Melissa Edmonds, Skyla Grief, Stafford Easterling violated my H.I.P.P.A, and the 4th amendment, under C.C.S. supervision knowingly.” He states that Defendant Peters is the open records coordinator, “who released his records once they came from Melissa Edmonds who was directed by Skyla Grief which one's to print and release.” Plaintiff claims that upon receiving the motion showing that his medical records had been opened without his consent or Court order, he sent a letter to “Frankfort/ defendant's counsil with a request for public records, and I sent one to the clerk of court to cover my track.” He further claims, however, that Defendants, in a motion in his earlier filed case, lied and said Plaintiff did not send them a request to search public records.

         As Plaintiff's second claim, he alleges:

Plaintiff wrote Donna Miller Corrections Program Administrator, about a transfer. Skyla Grief is tampering with witnesses Brandon Bruin & Garfield Evans. Donna Miller told Plaintiff Cooper a decision hasnt been made.
On December 28th 2016 I received a letter from Donna Miller [dated] December 14th 2016 and received it 14 days latter.

         In his third claim, Plaintiff reports that on January 5, 2017, a family member ordered him “two books/magazines.” He claims that when he received notice that he was not allowed to receive these magazines, he wrote to Defendants White and Ford about his magazines, the mailroom, and “my non-nude magazines” but that “they never sent my letter back, and never gave me my magazines.” He then claims that on January 12, 2017, he received a memorandum from Defendants White and Ford. He indicates that he thereafter sent Defendant Ford his appeal on a Monday but did not receive his response until Friday, and he alleges that his appeal was deliberately held so he would not get his magazines. In an exhibit attached to the complaint, Plaintiff states, “A copy of my rejected magazines Straight Stuntin was rejected per Randy White, Lt. Chris Vinson, Warden Steven Ford. These magazines were rejected under nudity. These magazines are not nude.” In the exhibit, Plaintiff also states that Defendants White, Vinson, and Ford “[a]ll rejected my magazine out of retaliation.”

         As Plaintiff's fourth claim, he reports that Defendant Grey took him off of suicide watch even though he told her he was still suicidal and that he received a write-up for saying he was suicidal. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Grief told Defendant Grey that he was “faking and to take me off.”

         As his final claims, Plaintiff states that on January 9, 2017, Defendant Grief was making rounds on 13Left Walk, when Plaintiff stopped her and asked about his transfer. Plaintiff states that Defendant Grief told him that he was not going anywhere until he completed “the program on 14Left.” In that same section of the complaint, Plaintiff also states that he has been in the segregation/special housing unit for five years and that Defendant Grief “is inflicting cruel and unusual punishment by not follow the new Guidlines frankfort set forth about the special housing.”

         As relief in the complaint, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages and declaratory relief.[1]

         B. Supplemental Complaint (DN 6)

         In the supplemental complaint, Plaintiff sues the following KSP Defendants in their individual and official capacities: Terry Peede, Lieutenant; Jesse Coombs, Lieutenant; Gage Rodriguez, Sergeant; Troy Belt, Unit Administrator; Randy White, Warden; James Beeler, Lieutenant; Skyla Grief, Warden of Programs; Tami Darnell/Bauer, Correctional Officer; and James Beavers, Lieutenant and Internal Affairs Officer.

         Plaintiff claims that on March 8, 2017, Defendant Bauer would not let him make a legal call; told him to go back to his cell; and when he asked why, she said, “your trying to file another Law suit.'” Plaintiff claims that when he returned to his cell, Defendant Peede went to his cell and told him to back up to the door and that “once the c/o's came into my cell I was tazzed in my neck, head, back and while all this was going on I was called Nigger, one c/o said die Nigger.” He further claims that Defendant Coombs tased him in his neck while the shock shield was on Plaintiff's back. Plaintiff states that nine corrections officer were involved and that once he was taken from his cell, he was taken to the shower. He alleges that Defendants Peede and Coombs threw away irreplaceable items and “books to Litigate.”

         Further, Plaintiff alleges that he keeps “receiving bogus Disciplinary Reports to keep Me in the Segregation unit.” He states, “five calender years in Segregation is considered to be cruel and unusual punishment. I plaintiff have a documented mental illness and I am punished because of it.”

         Plaintiff then specifies how various Defendants allegedly violated his rights. He first claims that Defendant Belt went to his cell door and asked him “to drop the lawsuit against him and stop filing grievances or Ill. never get out the Segregation unit.” Plaintiff reports that he said, “‘No, ”” and that the next day he was assaulted by nine corrections officers who told him to drop the lawsuit. He also claims that his legal books and paper work were taken.

         Second, as to Defendant Rodriguez, Plaintiff claims that he inventoried Plaintiff's property and “threw majority of my personal belongs away along with legal Books, Magazines . . . . ‘Because I file too many grievanceses and lawsuits against staff.'”

         Third, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Beavers “is holding my legal mail and books and said the only way Ill. get my personal property back is if I Drop this lawsuit and Stop Filing Grievances on staff.”

         Fourth, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Peede is:

Retaliating on me for filing grievances on him and helping other inmates protect their 1st amendment right to a redress of grievances. Also Taking my property and not inventoring my items, throwing away my legal mail. Tazzing me and making me even though I am not resisting. Chocking me trying to drowned me. Leaving me nude in a contaminated cell with no contrition, for 24 Hours.

         Fifth, as to Defendant Coombs, Plaintiff alleges that he “came into my cell and Tazzed Me in My neck Head and Face. this excessive use of force was do to me filing lawsuits and grievance's against staff.”

         Sixth, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Bauer “[r]etaliated on me by writing me up for a inappropriate sexual behavior then sent Peede & Coombs to my cell to take my property, because of the ...

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