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Posey v. Kinney

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

November 14, 2017




         Plaintiff Xavior Caine Posey, a prisoner presently incarcerated in the Meade County Detention Center (MCDC), filed this pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 while he was incarcerated at the Logan County Detention Center (LCDC). This matter is before the Court for initial review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 608 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). For the reasons that follow, the Court will allow the following claims to proceed: (1) The Eighth Amendment claims for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs against Defendants Lyons, Harvey, and Kinney in their individual capacities; and (2) The Eighth Amendment excessive-force claims against Defendants Dauley, Lyons, and Harvey in their individual capacities. All other claims and Defendant Gregory will be dismissed from this action.


         Plaintiff identifies the following five Defendants in this action: (1) Bennie R. Kinney, the Chief Jailer at the LCDC; (2) Jarrod Lyons, a “Sheriff” with the Logan County Sheriff's Department (LCSD); (3) Kyle Harvey, a “Sheriff” with the LCSD; (4) Charles Dauley, a detective with the LCSD; and (5) Phil Gregory, the Jailer at the LCDC. Plaintiff sues each Defendant in his official and individual capacities and seeks punitive damages.

         Plaintiff alleges that on May 18, 2017, he was in district court “looking at my girlfriend (smiled) and told her I loved her. After a few minutes went by, I looked back over towards my girlfriend.” According to Plaintiff, at that time, Defendant Dauley looked at Plaintiff and tried to say something to Plaintiff. When Plaintiff was unable to hear him, Plaintiff states that Defendant Dauley “came to me and told me ‘to stop making faces at the people in the court room.'” Plaintiff states he responded, “Alright.” Thereafter, according to Plaintiff, Defendant Dauley “jerked” Plaintiff out of his chair. Plaintiff states that he “was in shakles” and “it hurt very bad.” Plaintiff represents that he informed Defendant Dauley to “not put his hands on me.” Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Dauley “started to throw [him] around.” According to Plaintiff, “after a few seconds [he] was hit” by two officers, Defendants Lyons and Harvey. Plaintiff states that these officers told him to get to the ground. According to Plaintiff, he attempted “to lay down but was pushed back by one of the Police men.” Plaintiff continues, “I then hit my head on the wooden table where the attornys sit. The three Policemen were on top of me kneeing and hitting me in my face telling me to ‘stop resisting.' The three officers put me in a holding cell.”

         Plaintiff states that he was thereafter transferred back to the LCDC where he told Defendant Kinney that he had “just been assaulted by three officers and I am hurt and would like to call my attorney and press charges and see the nurse for my cuts and bruses.” Plaintiff states that Defendant Kinney commented that Plaintiff “haven't seen assult.” Plaintiff states that he was then put in a “restrain chair after [he] asked for pitures of [his] open wounds and bruses.” Plaintiff states that he told the “deputys that I was having trouble breathing they ignored me. After a few hours I was taking out of the chair and put into Cell 171 with no water.” Plaintiff states that he asked multiple deputies for water, but they ignored him. According to Plaintiff, the following day he was moved to another cell, Cell 139, which also had no water. Plaintiff states that he asked for water, but none was ever brought to him. According to Plaintiff, on May 20, 2017, he got water.

         Plaintiff states that he asked multiple deputies why he was in isolation and how long he would be in isolation, but no one gave him answers. According to Plaintiff, his family called LCDC and asked for pictures of his “cuts and wounds. The jail has still not took pictures.” Further, Plaintiff states that he asked “the deputys to see the nurse they ignored me.”


         Because 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 at 608.

         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 trial 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. 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 (2007)).

         “[A] 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)). “But the district court need not accept a ‘bare assertion of legal conclusions.'” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d at 488 (quoting 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).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Official-Capacity Claims

         Plaintiff asserts claims against Defendants in their official capacities. “Official-capacity suits . . . ‘generally represent only another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent.'” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985) (quoting Monell v. Dep t of Soc. Servs. of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 690 n.55 (1978)). Suing Defendants in their official capacities is the equivalent of suing their employer, Logan County. See Lambert v. Hartman, 517 F.3d 433, 439-40 (6th Cir. 2008) (stating that civil-rights suit against county clerk of courts in his official capacity was equivalent of suing clerk's employer, the county); Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994) (advising that suing the police chief in his official capacity is the equivalent of suing the county); Smallwood v. Jefferson Cty. Gov't, 743 F.Supp. 502, 503 (W.D. Ky. 1990) (concluding that a suit against the Jefferson County Government, the Jefferson County Fiscal Court, and the Jefferson County Judge Executive is actually a suit against Jefferson County itself).

         When a § 1983 claim is made against a municipality, this Court must analyze two distinct issues: (1) whether 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 first address the second issue, i.e., whether the municipality is responsible for the alleged constitutional violation.

         “[A] 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 v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of N.Y., 436 U.S. at 691; see also Searcy v. City of Dayton, 38 F.3d 282, 286 (6th Cir. 1994) (“A municipality may be held liable under § 1983 if the municipality itself caused the constitutional deprivation. However, a municipality is not liable under § 1983 for an injury inflicted solely by its employees or agents; the doctrine of respondeat superior is inapplicable.”) (citations omitted)); Berry v. City of Detroit, 25 F.3d 1342, 1345 (6th Cir. 1994) (“Municipal liability for the actions of employees may not be based on a theory of respondeat superior.”). “The ‘official policy' requirement was intended to distinguish acts of ...

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