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Scales v. Kentucky State Reformatory

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

January 4, 2018




         Plaintiff Parnell F. Scales, a convicted prisoner at the Kentucky State Reformatory (KSR), filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (DN 1). Thereafter, he filed a document titled “Affidavit” (DN 6), which the Court construes as an amendment/supplement to the complaint. This matter is before the Court on initial review of the complaint and its amendment/supplement pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons that follow, a portion of the claims will continue, others will be dismissed, and Plaintiff will be given an opportunity to amend his complaint.


         Plaintiff brings suit against KSR, Warden Aaron Smith, “Correctional Care Solution” (CCS), and Corrections Officer/Guard Mrs. Bunnell. He sues Defendants Smith and Bunnell in their individual and official capacities. Plaintiff claims that his Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care was violated and that medical personnel are not trained to respond to emergencies and are unqualified. Plaintiff additionally alleges state-law claims of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

         According to the complaint and its amendment/supplement, on May 30, 2017, Defendants KSR and CCS sent him to Norton Hospital “to have surgery on left arm for dialysis tap in the main artery of his arm.” He states that a few days later, he returned to KSR, and on June 7, “a physicians' assistants of [CCS] remove the staple and stickis around the dialysis tap and without the Doctor approver from Norton Hospital. This physicians' assistants cannot lawfully be assigned, or try to perform, tasks beyond their training and no adequate supervision.”[1] Thereafter, reports Plaintiff, on June 11, he was taking a shower “and the dialysis tap in artery came out of his artery and almost blood to dead because medical counld not get to [him] in time.” He explains that Defendant Bunnell was not at her post or desk at the time but was “out in the yard setting under the awning with other prisoners.” Plaintiff states that he started calling for help and another inmate went to the yard to get Defendant Bunnell, who “was very slow in get inside to help [Plaintiff] with medical emergencies at least 5-10 min.” He asserts that Defendant Bunnell called for medical help; that “it took them 20-30 min. to get to [Plaintiff] because the Door was lock between Medical and DAL Dorm”; that it took “Medical” almost an hour to get a supervisor; and that they then transported him back to the hospital.

Went I get back from the Hospital Doctor Van Hellen start making threat against me and I am afaired for my life. It started on July 19, 2017, he said his uncle had one and threat me by saiding that I could died because of my health. I have written Warden Aaron Smith about the threat and Mr. Smith refuse to do anything to stop the threats. He refuse to answer my letter. Because he did not it on record, because he want to cover this medical promblem up.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary and punitive damages, an injunction directing “proper medical needs, ” and costs.


         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner seeking relief against governmental entities, officers, and/or employees, this Court must review the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under § 1915A, the 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 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007).

         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 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)). “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).

         A. Kentucky State Reformatory

         KSR is part of the Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC). The DOC 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 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) (“The prison is a state agency. . . . A state agency is not considered a ‘person' subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.”). Because KSR is not a “person” under the Act, the Court will dismiss the claims against KSR for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         Additionally, the Eleventh Amendment acts as a bar to all claims for relief against KSR. A state and its agencies, such as the DOC, may not be sued in federal court, regardless of the relief sought, unless the state has waived its sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment or Congress has overridden it. Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Auth. v. Metcalf & Eddy, Inc., 506 U.S. 139, 146 (1993); Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 124 (1984); Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978). The Commonwealth of Kentucky has not waived its immunity, see Adams v. Morris, 90 F. App'x 856, 857 (6th Cir. 2004), and in enacting § 1983, Congress did not intend to override the traditional sovereign immunity of the states. Whittington v. Milby, 928 F.2d 188, 193-94 (6th Cir. 1991) (citing Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 341 (1979)).

         B. Section 1983 Official-Capacity ...

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