United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
PAUL HARRISON MAYS, JR. PLAINTIFF
KENTUCKY DEP'T OF CORR. et al. DEFENDANTS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. McKinley, Jr. Chief Judge United States
Paul Harrison Mays, Jr., a prisoner presently incarcerated at
Little Sandy Correctional Complex (LSCC), originally filed
this pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 in the Eastern District of Kentucky (DN 1).
Subsequently, the Eastern District of Kentucky transferred
this action to the Western District of Kentucky (DN 4). There
were deficiencies with the filing of the complaint. Thus,
this Court entered an Order on September 22, 2017 (DN 10), in
which it ordered Plaintiff to remedy the deficiencies.
Plaintiff was ordered, in part, to file his action on the
Court-approved form for filing an action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. The Court further informed Plaintiff that
“the amended complaint will superseded/replace the
originally filed complaint and will be the document upon
which the Court will perform its initial review under 28
U.S.C. § 1915A.” Plaintiff was further
“cautioned to include any claims he wishes to bring
before this Court in the new amended complaint.”
seeking and being granted an extension of time to respond to
the Court's September 22, 2017, Order, Plaintiff filed an
amended complaint (DN 16). The amended complaint (DN 16) is
before the Court for initial review 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 Fourteenth Amendment claims
against Defendants West, Rodriguez, Mason, Herndon, Stewart,
Strang, and Saager in their individual capacities for
monetary damages to proceed. The other claims and Defendants
will be dismissed from this action.
SUMMARY OF CLAIMS
identifies the following twelve Defendants in this action:
(1) The Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC); (2) Webb
Strang, Interim Warden at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex
(LLCC); (3) Randy Saager, an employee of Cordant Health
Solutions; (4) Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr., an Internal Affairs
Lieutenant at LLCC; (5) Scott Stewart, a Captain at LLCC; (6)
David Herndon, a Correctional Officer at LLCC; (7) Amanda L.
Mason, a Sergeant at LLCC; (8) Franklin West, a monitor at
Dismas Charities, Portland; (9) Cordant Health Solutions, a
urinalysis laboratory; (10) Sterling Reference Labs, a
urinalysis laboratory; (11) Secon Drug Screening Co., a
urinalysis laboratory; and (12) Dismas Charities Portland
(Dismas Charities), a halfway house located in Louisville,
Kentucky. Plaintiff states that he sues all Defendants in
their official and individual capacities. Plaintiff seeks
monetary damages and injunctive relief in the form of
“[f]ixing policies.” Plaintiff alleges that on
January 5, 2016, while he was housed at Defendant Dismas
Charities, he was subjected to a urinalysis (DN 1, pp.
3-5). According to Plaintiff's amended
complaint, Defendant West obtained the urine specimen but did
so in an incorrect manner. Plaintiff states that Defendant
West did not identify Plaintiff by “proper ID, ”
did not check the temperature range of the urine specimen,
and misspelled Plaintiff's name. The urine specimen was
sent to Defendants Cordant Health Solutions and Sterling
Reference Labs for testing (DN 1-10, p. 17; DN 1-5, p. 2).
The specimen results showed that Plaintiff tested positive
for Methamphetamine and Morphine (DN 1-2, pp. 1-2; DN 1-3; DN
1-5, p. 2). Plaintiff was thereafter transferred to LLCC
where the positive test results were entered into the
Kentucky Offender Management System (DN 1-3, p. 1; DN 1-7, p.
2). Plaintiff was charged with unauthorized use of drugs or
intoxicants. An adjustment hearing was conducted on April 20,
2016, and Defendant Herndon found Plaintiff guilty of two
charges of Unauthorized Use of Drugs or Intoxicants (DN 1-6).
Plaintiff was issued a penalty of 60 days loss of good time
credits for each charge. Plaintiff challenged the guilty
findings administratively, but the findings of guilt were
upheld by Defendant Strang (DN 1-2, p. 2).
Plaintiff filed a motion for a declaratory judgment in Oldham
Circuit Court (DN 1-10). The Oldham Circuit Court found that
Plaintiff's petition was “well taken” and
granted “the relief sought which is restoration of good
time and expungement of the [Plaintiff's] record in
regard to the positive urine tests collected from Dismas
Charities which are the subject of his disciplinary
proceeding and appeal” (DN 1-10, p. 2). That Court
explained its concern with the chain of custody of the urine
specimen as follows:
The urine sample indicates that it was initially tested on
January 7 and confirmation test was conducted January 8.
However the internal chain of custody indicates that the
aliquot process was performed January 14, 2016 which is of
concern since the specimen could not have been divided after
the tests were performed. As a result of this anomaly, the
Department of Corrections contacted Cordant Health Solutions
and on February 1, 2017 (over a year later) the laboratory
faxed a corrected chain of custody showing the aliquot was
performed on January 7, 2016. . . . The Court must agree with
the [Plaintiff] in this case. There is absolutely no
explanation for the error and the Court is unwilling to
accept the facts without any explanation whatsoever as to the
seemingly incorrect chain of custody.
(DN 1-10, p. 1). According to Plaintiff, the Oldham Circuit
Court decision was not appealed (DN 17).
amended complaint, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Rodriguez
ignored Defendant West's mistakes “as well as
unreliable evidence of Cordant, Sterling and Secon and
investigated and charged me with write-up.” Plaintiff
contends that Defendant Mason “also ignored unreliable
evidence and sent write-up to court call.” According to
Plaintiff, Defendant Herndon “ignored unreliable
evidence and took my good time and other priveledges as court
call officer.” Plaintiff states that Defendant Stewart
“ignored unreliable evidence and signed off as
supervisor on court call evidence.” According to
Plaintiff, Defendant Strang “ignored unreliable
evidence and upheld wrongful conviction as Warden at
LLCC.” Defendant Saager, according to Plaintiff,
“ignored the unreliable evidence and incorrect Chain of
Custody and also facilitated the delivery by fax of what was
described as ‘Corrected COC forms' to Angela E.
Cordery when in fact the ‘corrected' forms were
still incorrect and unreliable.” Further, Plaintiff
states that “[t]he entire integrity of a chain of
custody is compromised if it can be changed later to
suit.” As to Defendants Kentucky Department of
Corrections, Cordant Health Solutions, Sterling Reference
Labs, Secon Drug Screening Company, and Dismas Charities,
Plaintiff asserts that they “oversaw and employ at
least one of each of the defendants in their official
capacity.” Plaintiff fails to state in his amended
complaint what rights he alleges have been violated. However,
in his original complaint, Plaintiff asserted claims under
“U.S. 4th; 14th, § 1; Ky
Const. § 10; CPP 15.8.”
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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.
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)).
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).
42 of the United States Code, Section 1983 creates no
substantive rights, but merely provides remedies for
deprivations of rights established elsewhere. As such, it has
two basic requirements: (1) the deprivation of federal
statutory or constitutional rights by (2) a person
acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487
U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Flint v. Ky. Dep't of Corr.,
270 F.3d 340, 351 (6th Cir. 2001). The KDOC is a department
within the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet of the
Commonwealth of Kentucky. See Exec. Order No.
2004-730 (July 9, 2004); Ky. Rev. Stat. § 12.250. A
state and its agencies, however, are not
“persons” subject to suit under § 1983.
Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S.
58, 71 (1989); see also Crockett v. Turney Ctr. Indus.
Prison, No. 96-6067, 1997 WL 436563, at *1 (6th Cir.
Aug. 1, 1997) ...