United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky
FRANCISCO G. RODRIGUEZ
DAVID AIRINGTON et al.
H. McKinley, Jr. Chief Judge
Francisco G. Rodriguez filed the instant pro se 42
U.S.C. § 1983 action proceeding in forma
pauperis. This matter is before the Court on initial
review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons
stated below, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's claims
upon initial screening.
is a convicted inmate at the Kentucky State Reformatory
(KSR). He sues David Airington, whom he identifies as a
prison mailroom clerk at KSR, and Aaron Smith, the KSR
Warden, in their individual and official capacities.
states, “On June 28, 2016 a civil action was filed
against me, ‘by the victim of the criminal case for
which I am serving time[.]'” He reports that a
complaint, summons, and letter from a guardian ad litem were
mailed to him at KSR via registered mail. Plaintiff states
that Airington “intercepted the legal mail from
Christian Circuit Court and the guardian ad litem.” He
represents that Airington “signed the green return
receipt card - then he returned the mail to the Christian
Circuit Court Clerk without contacting or locating
me in the prison and informing me of receipt of registered
mail in my name[.]” Plaintiff states that the green
receipt card was filed in the Christian Circuit Court. He
maintains that “the court thereby entered a judgment
against me for default for failure to defend the lawsuit -
for failure to answer the complaint - the court entered a
judgment for . . . one million five hundred thousand dollars
against me.” Plaintiff further asserts that he filed a
grievance concerning the incident. He states, “They
responded that the Court Clerk put the wrong inmate number on
the green card - the number was not a inmate ID number - but
was the Christian Circuit Court case number.” Plaintiff
maintains that he “appealed to the Warden and
Commissioners - they concurred with the prison.”
Plaintiff states that KSR has a practice of locating an
inmate if it receives mail without a prisoner identification
number. He states, “They lied about this
reports that he appealed the default judgment to the Kentucky
Court of Appeals and the appeal is pending. He states,
“This is a denial of access to the courts action . . .
where the defendants were deliberately indifferent to my
right by failing to allow service of process by the Christian
Circuit Court - thereby causing a one and a half million
dollar judgment to be imposed against me . . . .”
relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages;
injunctive relief in the form of “no retaliatory
actions/properly retrain”; and requests to “have
DOC clarify matter w/ Ky Court of Appeals.”
prisoner initiates a civil action seeking redress from a
governmental entity, officer, or employee, the trial court
must review the complaint and dismiss the complaint, or any
portion of it, if the court determines that the complaint 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
601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by
Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007).
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
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556). “[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, 561 F.3d at 488 (quoting Columbia
Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th
Cir. 1995)). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and
conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a
complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked
assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557).
this Court recognizes that pro se pleadings are to
be held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520-21 (1972); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110
(6th Cir. 1991), “[o]ur duty to be ‘less
stringent' with pro se complaints does not require us to
conjure up unpled allegations.” McDonald v.
Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation
omitted). And this Court is not required to create a claim
for 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).
have a constitutional right of access to the courts.
Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 821 (1977). This
right, however, is not without limit. In order to state a
viable claim for interference with his access to the courts,
a plaintiff must show actual injury. Dellis v. Corr.
Corp. of Am., 257 F.3d 508, 511 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing
Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351 (1996)). “An
inmate cannot establish relevant actual injury simply by
establishing that his prison's law library or legal
assistance program is subpar in some theoretical sense. That
would be the precise analog of the healthy inmate claiming
constitutional violation because of the inadequacy of the
prison infirmary.” Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S.
343, 351 (1996). “‘Meaningful access to the
courts is the touchstone, ' and the inmate therefore must
go one step further and demonstrate that the alleged
shortcomings in the library or legal assistance program
hindered his efforts to pursue a legal claim.”
Id. (internal citations omitted).
the Supreme Court has strictly limited the types of cases for