United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division
DOMINIC E. HODGE PLAINTIFF
CALLOWAY COUNTY JAIL DEFENDANT
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
B. Russell, Senior Judge.
Dominic E. Hodge, filed a pro se, in forma
pauperis complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
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 claims against Defendant will be dismissed,
and Plaintiff will be afforded an opportunity to amend his
SUMMARY OF CLAIMS
names as Defendant Calloway County Jail, where he was
incarcerated when he filed the complaint. Plaintiff alleges
that after he filed a grievance at the Calloway County Jail
about an incident occurring on May 27, 2017, he was “on
the receiving end of retaliation and discrimination”
from deputies at the jail. He states that the deputies did
not respond to his questions or requests, he was severely
punished for speaking out about injustices, and he was placed
in isolation for minor write-ups. He further states that, in
contrast, he has seen white inmates use profane insults on
deputies yet receive no punishment.
further alleges that he was segregated from other inmates due
to discrimination for having filed several grievances. He
also alleges that the Class D coordinator told him that
“‘black males' aren't allowed to work at
her work program due to the way we talk amongst each
other.” He states that when he told her that black
males should not be discriminated against, she responded,
“‘Rather you like it or not this is how it's
going to be because I said so.'”
relief, Plaintiff asks for monetary and punitive damages, as
well as injunctive relief in the form of transfer to another
prisoner initiates a civil action seeking redress from a
governmental entity, officer, or employee, the trial court
must review the complaint and dismiss the action, 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 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) and (2). A
claim 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 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. When determining
whether a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can
be granted, the Court must construe the complaint in a light
most favorable to Plaintiff and accept all of the factual
allegations as true. Prater v. City of Burnside,
Ky., 289 F.3d 417, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). While a
reviewing court must liberally construe pro se
pleadings, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365
(1982) (per curiam), to avoid dismissal, a complaint must
include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
Calloway County Jail is not a “person” subject to
suit under § 1983 because municipal departments, such as
jails, are not suable under § 1983. See Marbry v.
Corr. Med. Serv., No. 99-6706, 2000 WL 1720959 at *2
(6th Cir. Nov. 6, 2000) (holding that a jail is not an entity
subject to suit under § 1983). In this situation, it is
Calloway County that is the proper defendant in this case.
Smallwood v. Jefferson Cty. Gov't, 743 F.Supp.
502, 503 (W.D. Ky. 1990) (construing claims brought against
the Jefferson County Government, the Jefferson County Fiscal
Court, and the Jefferson County Judge Executive as claims
against Jefferson County itself). Further, Calloway County is
a “person” for purposes of § 1983.
Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Servs.,
436 U.S. 658 (1978). The Court will therefore construe the
claims against Calloway County Jail as brought against
§ 1983 claim is made against a municipality, like
Calloway County, a court must analyze two distinct issues:
(1) whether the plaintiff's harm was caused by a
constitutional violation; and (2) if so, whether the
municipality is responsible for that violation. Collins
v. City of Harker Heights, Tex., 503 U.S. 115, 120
(1992). The Court will address the issues in reverse order.
municipality cannot be held liable solely because it employs
a tortfeasor - or, in other words, a municipality cannot be
held liable under § 1983 on a respondeat superior
theory.” Monell, 436 U.S. at 691 (emphasis in
original); Searcy v. City of Dayton, 38 F.3d 282,
286 (6th Cir. 1994); Berry v. City of Detroit, 25
F.3d 1342, 1345 (6th Cir. 1994). “[T]he touchstone of
‘official policy' is designed ‘to distinguish
acts of the municipality from acts of employees of the
municipality, and thereby make clear that municipal liability
is limited to action for which the municipality is actually
responsible.'” City of St. Louis v.
Praprotnik, 485 U.S. 112, 138 (1988) (quoting
Pembaur v. Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469, 479-80 (1986))
(emphasis in Pembaur).
municipality cannot be held responsible for a constitutional
deprivation unless there is a direct causal link between a
municipal policy or custom and the alleged constitutional
deprivation. Monell, 436 U.S. at 691; Deaton v.
Montgomery Cty., Ohio, 989 F.2d 885, 889 (6th Cir.
1993). Simply stated, the plaintiff must “identify the
policy, connect the policy to the [municipality] itself and
show that the particular injury was incurred because of the
execution of that policy.” Garner v. Memphis Police
Dep't, 8 F.3d 358, 364 (6th Cir. 1993) (quoting
Coogan v. City of Wixom, 820 F.2d 170, 176 (6th Cir.
1987), overruled on other grounds, Frantz v. Vill. of
Bradford, 245 F.3d 869 (6th Cir. 2001)). The policy or
custom “must be ‘the moving force of the
constitutional violation' in order to establish the
liability of a government body under § 1983.”
Searcy, 38 F.3d at 286 (quoting Polk Cty. v.
Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 326 (1981) (citation omitted));
Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs of Bryan Cty., Okla. v.
Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 404 (1997) (indicating that
plaintiff must demonstrate “deliberate conduct”).
Plaintiff has not alleged that a policy or custom of Calloway
County caused his alleged harm. Thus, he fails to state a
claim against Defendant. Accordingly, the claims against
Defendant will be dismissed.
Rule 15(a) a district court can allow a plaintiff to amend
his complaint even when the complaint is subject to dismissal
under the PLRA [Prison Litigation Reform Act].”
LaFountain v. Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir.
2013). The Court will allow Plaintiff an opportunity to amend
his complaint to name individual employees of Calloway County