United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky
WILLIAM J. DAUGHERTY PLAINTIFF
K.S.P. MEDICAL DEPARTMENT DEFENDANTS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
B. Russell, Senior Judge
a pro se civil rights action brought by a state
prisoner 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
of Plaintiff's third amended complaint pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons set forth below, the
action will be dismissed in part and allowed to continue in
is incarcerated at Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP). On July
6, 2017, this Court conducted an initial screening of
Plaintiff's complaint and two amended complaints (DN 16).
In these documents, Plaintiff named “K.S.P. Medical
Department” and Dr. Shastine Tangilag, in her official
capacity only, as Defendants in this action. Plaintiff then
made numerous allegations related to his medical care at KSP.
Upon review, the Court allowed only one claim to proceed: an
official-capacity claim against Dr. Tangilag based upon
Plaintiff's allegation that only Caucasian inmates at KSP
were permitted to see Dr. Tangilag while inmates of all other
races were required to see a nurse practitioner. However,
because Plaintiff's complaint and amended complaints
contained several detailed allegations regarding his
dissatisfaction with the medical care he was receiving at
KSP, the Court allowed Plaintiff the opportunity to amend his
complaint one final time to name as Defendants in their
individual capacities any officials whom he believed had
violated his constitutional right to receive appropriate
medical care. It is this amended complaint that is now before
the Court for review.
SUMMARY OF THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT
third amended complaint, Plaintiff names Dr. Shastine
Tangilag as a Defendant in her individual capacity. Plaintiff
alleges that Dr. Tangilag responded to a medical grievance he
had filed by stating that Plaintiff was suffering from the
symptoms he complained of because he refused to wear bifocal
eye glasses. Plaintiff seems to suggest that because Dr.
Tangilag had not physically examined him, she should not have
responded to this grievance, and the medical grievance
committee should not have accepted her response. Plaintiff
also faults Dr. Tangilag for not allowing him to see another
doctor for a second opinion. Finally, Plaintiff reiterates in
this complaint that Dr. Tangilag would not see non-white
inmates, including himself, for physical examinations.
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 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997),
overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549
U.S. 199 (2007). 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
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).
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).
Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Claim
Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment provides
that a state may not “deny to any person within its
jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, ” which
is essentially a direction that all persons similarly
situated should be treated alike. U.S. Const., amend. XIV;
City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., Inc., 473
U.S. 432, 439 (1985). To establish a violation of the Equal
Protection Clause, an inmate must show that the defendants
purposefully discriminated against him. Vill. of
Arlington Heights v. Metro. Hous. Dev. Corp., 429 U.S.
252, 265 (1977). Such discriminatory purpose must be a
motivating factor in the actions of the defendants.
Id. at 265-66. “A plaintiff presenting a
race-based equal protection claim can either present direct
evidence of discrimination, or can establish a prima facie
case of discrimination under the burden-shifting scheme set
forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S.
792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973).” Umani
v. Mich. Dep't of Corr., 432 F. App'x 453, 458
(6th Cir. 2011). Here, Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Tangilag
refused to see both himself and other inmates because they
were not Caucasian. The Court will allow this
individual-capacity claim to proceed against Dr. Tangilag at
Fourteenth Amendment ...