United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. MCKINELY, JR. CHIEF JUDGE.
initial review of the complaint under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e), the Court dismissed the United States, the only
named Defendant, because the complaint made no allegations
against the United States and because the United States may
not be sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.However, the Court
gave Plaintiff an opportunity to amend his complaint to name
particular employees of the Madisonville Police Department
and the Hopkins County Jail in their individual capacities
whom Plaintiff alleges were responsible for the alleged
constitutional violations while he was a pretrial detainee.
response, Plaintiff has filed three amended complaints. In
his first amended complaint (DN 13), Plaintiff sues in their
individual capacities the following employees of the Hopkins
County Jail: Crystal G. Vickrey; Joe Blue; Jarrett
Blackhurst; Jeremy McLaughlin; Tracy Griffith; Bradley Ross;
and Gary Lutz. He alleges that in violation of the Fourth,
Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments Defendant Vickrey placed
him in the restraint chair as punishment; that Defendants
Blackhurst, McLaughlin, Griffith, and Ross placed him in a
restraint chair and pepper sprayed him as punishment; that
Defendant Griffith also tased him while in the restraint
chair; and that Defendant Lutz “drive stun[ned]”
him while in the restraint chair.
the [Eighth Amendment's] Cruel and Unusual Punishments
Clause ‘is concerned' with punishment by the state
‘after it has secured a formal adjudication of guilt in
accordance with due process of law, ' it does not apply
to pretrial detainees.” Spencer v. Bouchard,
449 F.3d 721, 727 (6th Cir. 2006) (footnote and citations
omitted), abrogated on other grounds by Jones v.
Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). “However, state
pretrial detainees are shielded from cruel and unusual
punishments by the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process
Clause, which provides similar if not greater protections
than the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause.”
Id. (footnote and citations omitted). Therefore,
Plaintiff's claims do not fall under the Eighth
Amendment. Thus, the Court will dismiss the Eighth Amendment
claims against these Defendants but allow the Fourteenth
Amendment and/or Fourth Amendment claims to go
regard to Defendant Blue, Plaintiff asserts that he
“was the jailer at the time I was incarcerated as a
pre-trial detainee and is accountable for the jail
staff's actions.” This indicates to the Court that
Plaintiff is attempting to hold Defendant Blue liable based
on his supervisory position as jailer.
superior is not a proper basis for liability under
§ 1983.” McQueen v. Beecher Cmty. Schs.,
433 F.3d 460, 470 (6th Cir. 2006). “Nor can the
liability of supervisors be based solely on the right to
control employees, or simple awareness of employees'
misconduct.” Id. (internal quotations
omitted). “In order for supervisory liability to
attach, a plaintiff must prove that the official ‘did
more than play a passive role in the alleged violation or
showed mere tacit approval of the goings on.'”
Loy v. Sexton, 132 F. App'x 624, 626 (6th Cir.
2005) (quoting Bass v. Robinson, 167 F.3d 1041, 1048
(6th Cir. 1999)). In other words, “liability under
§ 1983 must be based on active unconstitutional
behavior.” Shehee v. Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295,
300 (6th Cir. 1999). Here, Defendant Blue cannot be held
liable based solely on his capacity as jailer. See Curtis
v. Curtis, 37 F. App'x 141, 142 (6th Cir. 2002)
(affirming district court's dismissal of
individual-capacity claims against jailer based on his
position of authority). The claims against Defendant Blue
will be dismissed.
second amended complaint (DN 14) filed by Plaintiff again
names as Defendants the City of Madisonville and the Hopkins
constitutional claims against the City of Madisonville and
the Hopkins County Government must be dismissed because
Plaintiff does not allege a policy or custom. As was
explained in the Court's prior Memorandum Opinion and
Order (DN 12), a municipality, like the City of Madisonville
or Hopkins County, 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 v. New York City
Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978);
Deaton v. Montgomery Cty., Ohio, 989 F.2d 885, 889
(6th Cir. 1993). Because Plaintiff has not alleged that a
policy or custom was the moving force behind the alleged
constitutional violations, he has failed to state a claim
against these Defendants. See Searcy v. City of
Dayton, 38 F.3d 282, 286 (6th Cir. 1994).
Court additionally notes that Plaintiff also alleges that the
use of pepper spray and restraint chair as punishment is not
allowed under “international rights.” There is
nothing international about the allegations described herein.
All parties reside in and the alleged incidents occurred in
to the extent that Plaintiff may be alleging his rights under
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) have been
violated, such a claim would also fail. The UDHR is not a
treaty or international agreement which imposes legal
obligations. Rather, it is a statement of principles aimed at
providing a common standard for international human rights.
See Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 542 U.S. 692, 734-35
(2004). Because it is not enforceable in American courts, any
claims under the UDHR would be subject to dismissal, as well.
third amended complaint (DN 15) again names as Defendants the
City of Madisonville and Hopkins County, as well as
Madisonville police officers Russell Nichols and Scott
Gipson. He alleges that Officer Gipson came to his home,
searched his vehicle, and took a 38 pistol from “the
console of [his] car . . . (4th Amendment).”
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Nichols unnecessarily tased
him during his arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
He alleges that the City of Madisonville and Hopkins County
are responsible for “the deprivation of rights
involving county and city employees.” Once again,
Plaintiff has not identified a policy or custom of the City
of Madisonville or the Hopkins County Government, and the
constitutional claims against them may not proceed. The Court
will allow Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claims to go
forward against Defendants Nichols and Gipson in their
IT IS ORDERED that the claims against Joe
Blue, the City of Madisonville, and Hopkins County, as well
as the Eighth Amendment claims, are
DISMISSED for failure to state a claim.
Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to terminate Joe
Blue, the City of Madisonville, and Hopkins County as parties
to this action.
Court will allow the following claims to go forward: the
individual-capacity claims against Defendants Vickrey,
Blackhurst, McLaughlin, Griffith, Ross, and Lutz under the
Fourteenth and/or Fourth Amendments and the
individual-capacity claims against Defendants Nichols and
Gipson under the Fourth Amendment. In ...