United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. Hale, Judge
a pro se civil rights action brought by a convicted
prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has
granted Plaintiff Joshua Haley leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. This matter is before the Court for screening
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons set forth
below, this action will be dismissed in part and allowed to
continue in part.
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
is incarcerated at Kentucky State Reformatory (KSR). He
brings this action against nine KSR officials in both their
individual and official capacities - KSR Warden Aaron Smith,
Teresa St. Clair, Steve Shulte, Ronyeld Shirley, Keith
Arnold, Philip Campbell, Danny Perry, Scott Jones, and Ronnie
alleges that he is a “30 year old gender nonconforming
male that has an extremely feminine appearance housed within
the male prison of [KSR].” Plaintiff further alleges
that he has been classified as “at risk for sexual
assault” due to a prior sexual assault within the
prison setting. Plaintiff states that his troubles began on
May 23, 2016, when another inmate, who was a “sexual
predator, ” tried to have Plaintiff transferred to his
cell. Plaintiff alleges that between May 23, 2016 and May 27,
2016, he was threatened and assaulted by this inmate and that
Defendants Perry, Whittaker, Campbell, Shirley, Mitchell,
Shulte, and Arnold knew that this inmate was a danger to
Plaintiff but failed to protect Plaintiff from him. Plaintiff
alleges that these Defendants' deliberate indifference to
his safety culminated in a brutal attack on May 27, 2016, in
which the other inmate assaulted Plaintiff with boiling
water, beat him unconscious, and broke his jaw bone, while
screaming, “If I can't have you, no one
will.” Plaintiff states that this inmate did not stop
attacking Plaintiff until the inmate thought Plaintiff was
dead. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Arnold and Jones
witnessed this attack and made no attempt to stop the
assault. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Arnold and Jones
told medical personnel that they were afraid to intervene in
the attack because Plaintiff was HIV positive. Plaintiff
claims that Defendants Arnold and Jones did not protect him
because they had not been properly trained to work with
inmates who are HIV positive. Plaintiff further states that
the injuries he suffered as a result of this attack have
required him to have multiple reconstructive surgeries.
also alleges that Defendant Warden Smith violated his
“8th, 14th, and 5th” Amendment rights by failing
to contact the Kentucky State Police or “creating a
E.O.R” after Plaintiff was attacked on May 27, 2016.
Plaintiff further complains that Defendant Warden Smith
permitted Defendants Perry and Whittaker to investigate the
grievance he filed related to the attack even though they
were involved in such. Finally, Plaintiff states that he was
denied surveillance video that he needs to substantiate some
of his claims and that this constitutes
“concealment” of evidence by Defendant Warden
relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages and
an order that he not be transferred to another institution in
retaliation for filing this lawsuit.
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 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).
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).
sues each Defendant in his/her official and individual
capacities. “Official-capacity suits . . .
‘generally represent  another way of pleading an
action against an entity of which an officer is an
agent.'” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159,
166 (1985) (quoting Monell v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 n.55 (1978)). Because
Defendants are employees of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the
claims brought against them in their official capacities are
deemed claims against the Commonwealth of Kentucky. See
Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. at 166. State officials
sued in their official capacities for money damages are not
“persons” subject to suit under § 1983.
Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S.
58, 71 (1989). Thus, to the extent that Plaintiff seeks money
damages from Defendants in their official capacities, he
fails to state a cognizable claim under § 1983.
Additionally, the Eleventh Amendment acts as a bar to claims
for monetary damages against Defendants in their official
capacities. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. at 169.
Thus, although it is not clear from Plaintiff's complaint
which claims he seeks to bring against the State, all such