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Bekhtyar v. Grayson County Detention Center

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

January 29, 2018



          Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., Chief Judge United States District Court

         Plaintiff, Jamal Bekhtyar, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, initiated this civil-rights action. 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 following reasons, the complaint will be dismissed in part and allowed to continue in part, and Plaintiff will be given an opportunity to amend his complaint.


         Plaintiff is currently a pretrial detainee in Nashville, Tennessee. His complaint, however, concerns incidents which occurred while he was in U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) custody at the Grayson County Detention Center (GCDC). Plaintiff names as Defendants the GCDC; the USMS; U.S. Probation Officer Michael Wilson in his official capacity; and GCDC Jailer Jason Woosley in his individual and official capacities.

         Plaintiff alleges that on March 28, 2016, before his current incarceration, he contacted his probation officer, Defendant Wilson, and requested and received permission to see his primary care physician, Dr. Sean Ryan, for a “severe insect bite reaction/painful injury to the region of [his] upper-inner-right thigh.” He states that Dr. Ryan gave him prescriptions for more than one antibiotic and follow up orders for bed rest and told Plaintiff to let Dr. Ryan know if his medical condition worsened by the next day. Plaintiff states that he provided all of this information to Defendant Wilson who told him to call first thing the next morning regarding his condition. Plaintiff states that the next morning his condition was worse but that he was not able to contact Defendant Wilson or his doctor because he was arrested by the USMS. Plaintiff states that Defendant Wilson saw Plaintiff at the USMS office after his arrest but that Defendant Wilson “neglected to convey [his] medical condition to the USMS nor to the sit-in AUSA [Assistant U.S. Attorney].”

         Plaintiff states that after being arrested, he informed the USMS of his medical condition, referred them to Defendant Wilson for his medical documents, and provided them with the only antibiotic he had been “able to grab as [he] was being detained.” He states that the USMS booking officer assured him that the facility where he would be sent would collaborate with his treating physician and treat him appropriately. Plaintiff alleges that his “continuum of care was neglected by the USMS and was not ensured as they stated it would be. They violated my Eighth Amendment rights.”

         Plaintiff alleges that when he was booked into GCDC, at his request, a female medical staff member came to the intake area, briefly looked at his leg, asked him who his doctor was, and put him in the medical observation pod. He alleges that despite telling her of the medical treatment he had received, including an ultrasound, and his instructions to notify his treating doctor if his condition worsened, “medical staff did not start any of my medications which neglected my medical condition and furthered it to worsen.” He further states that when his mother called GCDC to insist that they continue his doctor's orders, the medical staff responded that Plaintiff “‘was no longer in Dr. Sean Ryan's care but [he] was now in the care of the USMS.'”

         Plaintiff alleges that his condition continued to worsen. He states that that evening one of his antibiotics was started, and he was given an aspirin. He states that the next day, the wound began to bleed, at which time the medical staff “slid some band-aides under the door, told [him] to pack up, and moved [him] to solitary confinement.” He alleges that he spent two days in solitary confinement while his wound continued to bleed and to worsen. Plaintiff states that, on April 1, 2016, he was taken to medical for the first time where his wound was wrapped before he was taken to the courthouse for his detention hearing. Plaintiff states that the AUSA and his probation officer had him immediately released “as they feared [he] may lose [his] leg or worse if kept in custody.” He states that he went immediately to the hospital where emergency surgery was performed. He attaches copies of medical records and photographs pertaining to his allegations.

         As relief, Plaintiff asks for compensatory and punitive damages.

         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 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 against Defendant Woosley in his official capacity and the GCDC

         Plaintiff's suit against Defendant Woolsey, the GCDC jailer, in his official capacity should be construed as brought against the governmental entity, i.e., Grayson County. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Moreover, the Grayson County Detention Center is not a “person” subject to suit under § 1983 because municipal departments, such as jails, are not suable under § 1983. Rhodes v. McDannel, 945 F.2d 117, 120 (6th Cir. 1991) (holding that a police department may not be sued under § 1983); see also Marbry v. Corr. Med. Serv., No. 99-6706, 2000 WL 1720959 at *2 (6th Cir. Nov. 6, 2000) (holding that a jail is not an entity subject to suit under § 1983). In this situation, it is Grayson County that is the proper defendant in this case. Smallwood v. Jefferson Cty. Gov't, 743 F.Supp. 502, 503 (W.D. Ky. 1990) (construing claims brought against the Jefferson County Government, the Jefferson County Fiscal Court, and the Jefferson County Judge Executive as claims against Jefferson County itself). Further, Grayson County is a “person” for purposes of § 1983. Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978). The Court will, therefore, construe the claims against Defendant Woosley in his official-capacity and the claims against GCDC as brought against Grayson County.

         When a § 1983 claim is made against a municipality, like Grayson County, a court must analyze two distinct issues: (1) whether the 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, ...

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