United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division
B. RUSSELL, SENIOR JUDGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
Elijah Shirley, a prisoner presently incarcerated at
Northpoint Training Center (NTC), filed a pro se
complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 regarding events that
occurred while he was incarcerated at Kentucky State
Penitentiary (KSP). 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,
this action will be dismissed.
SUMMARY OF CLAIMS
caption of his complaint, Plaintiff names the following eight
Defendants: (1) Randy White, the Warden at KSP; (2) J.
Palmer, a Correctional Officer at KSP; (3) Billy Price, a
Correctional Officer at KSP; (4) Gibbs, a Captain at KSP; (5)
Brian O'Dell, a Sergeant at KSP; (6) S. Hope, a Captain
at KSP; (7) Seth Mitchell, with Internal Affairs at KSP; and
(8) Dan Smith, the Grievance Coordinator at KSP. Plaintiff
sues Defendants in their individual and official capacities.
As requested relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages;
“official dismissal of all defendants as correctional
officers and reprimands for others”; and attorney fees.
to Plaintiff, on June 1, 2017, while working at his prison
job in the KSP dining room, Plaintiff was harassed by
Defendant Palmer. Plaintiff represents that Defendant Palmer
referred to Plaintiff, an African American, as a monkey and
told Plaintiff to get himself over with the other monkeys.
Plaintiff states that others witnessed Defendant Palmer's
statements and that a report was written up about the
incident by Correctional Officer Hillyard and his wife.
Plaintiff further states as follows:
This has been an on Going occurance with [Defendant Palmer]
for some time, and I have filed Greivances, and written to
the Warden, [Defendant White], as well as The Commissioner
about this, and they keep telling me they will Monitor the
problem and inform the officers to keep th[ei]r Opinions to
themselves, which is to say, that nothing concrete will be
to Plaintiff, shortly after the incident, he was transferred
to NTC and “was denied his Constitutional Right to
redress of Grievances, He was denied the fundamental right to
file an appeal to the transfer, and Did in fact file a
Grievance against the Officer, but has as yet heard
nothing.” Plaintiff states that “the warden has
refused to contact him about the outcome of the grievance,
and has also refused to hear the grievance, due to the
Plaintiff no longer being at the Pentetiary.” According
to Plaintiff, his “Constitutional, Due Process, And
those fundamental rights afforded every person, regardless,
of skin color or situation, has been grossly violated by the
officers and staff at the Penitentiary.”
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).
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, 165-66 (1985) (quoting Monell v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs. of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 690 n.55 (1978)). Because
Defendants are all employees or officers of the Commonwealth
of Kentucky, the claims brought against them in their
official capacities are deemed claims against the
Commonwealth of Kentucky. Id. at 166. State
officials sued in their official capacities for money damages
are not “persons” subject to suit under §
1983. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491
U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Thus, the claims seeking money damages
from state officers or employees in their official capacities
are not cognizable claims under § 1983. Additionally,
the Eleventh Amendment acts as a bar to claims for monetary
damages against Defendants in their official capacities.
Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. at 169; see also
Boone v. Kentucky, 72 F. App'x 306, 307 (6th Cir.
2003) (“[Plaintiff's] request for monetary relief
against the prosecutors in their official capacities is