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Crawford v. Bevin

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

November 10, 2017

JAMAL R. CRAWFORD et al., Plaintiffs,
MATT BEVIN et al., Defendants.


          David J. Hale, Judge

         Plaintiffs, Jamal R. Crawford and Walter D. King, filed a pro se, in forma pauperis civil-rights 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 complaint will be dismissed in part and allowed to proceed in part, and Plaintiffs will be given a chance to amend their complaint.


         Plaintiffs are pretrial detainees at the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections (LMDC). They name as Defendants in their official capacities Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, and LMDC Director Mark Bolton. The complaint alleges that on July 12, 2017, at approximately 1:30 p.m., a toilet in the “old police headquarters” where Plaintiffs were housed began spewing water laden with feces “onto the floor throughout the day-room.” Plaintiffs state that, although inmates made attempts to contain the water, contaminated water was tracked throughout the walk. Plaintiffs state that inmates expressed concerns about exposure to health hazards such as staphylococcus and hepatitis, but their requests for adequate cleaning supplies were ignored in violation of “the 8th Amendment Rights of this specific group of inmates.”

         The complaint alleges that, at the 10:30 p.m. shift change, the floor officers asked inmates to step inside their cells, as was standard practice, even though the contaminated water was visible. Plaintiffs state that the inmates refused to move, which is when about forty officers “ran into the walk throwing inmates face down in urine and feces.” The complaint also alleges that the “old police head quarters” is a “condemned building” with no working air conditioner.

         The complaint further alleges:

[W]e're all getting sick being that there isn't a functional air intake system. The temperature on an average day inside walk #2 ranges from 91-94 [degrees farenheit]. In this month of July, it's like hell here for the man with asthma. This building has no water pressure, therefore we're forced to drink water under inhumane conditions, and we can't wash our hands respectfully.

         Attached to the complaint are copies of a grievance filed by another inmate, Samuel Barfield, regarding the overflowing toilet and the staff's failure to provide inmates with adequate cleaning supplies. It appears to have been written on July 12, 2017, around 4:00 pm.[1] Also attached is a copy of a document which reads: “This class of inmates have had their 8thAmendment right . . . violated do to being housed in a condemn building known as the old police head quarters . . . as to where they've been forced to suffer from . . . cruel and unusual punishment.” It is signed by twenty-one inmates.

         As relief, Plaintiffs ask for monetary and punitive damages, injunctive relief in the form of “shutting head quarters down permanently, ” and to “allow medical releases for the inmate involved; expenses paid.”

         II. ANALYSIS

         When a 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 the 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).

         A. Claims on behalf of other inmates

         To the extent that Plaintiffs are attempting to bring suit on behalf of any other inmates, they may not do so. Section 1654 of Title 28 of the U.S. Code “specifies that cases in the courts of the United States may be conducted only by the parties personally or through counsel. . . . The federal courts have long held that Section 1654 preserves a party's right to proceed pro se, but only on his own claims; only a licensed attorney may represent other persons.” Coleman v. Indymac Venture, LLC, 966 F.Supp.2d 759, 769 (W.D. Tenn. 2013). Thus, any claims brought by Plaintiffs on behalf of other inmates will be dismissed.

         B. ...

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