United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. McKinley, Jr., Chief Judge United States District Court
Kyle Edward Lee McCormick, a convicted inmate at the Hopkins
County Jail (HCJ), filed the instant pro se 42
U.S.C. § 1983 action proceeding in forma
pauperis. This matter is before the Court on initial
review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
For the reasons stated below, the Court will dismiss some
claims and allow one claim to proceed for further
sues the Hopkins County Jail and Deputy Cody Patterson in his
individual and official capacities. Plaintiff alleges that on
June 9, 2017, he was subjected to a strip search by Defendant
Patterson. He states, “Deputy Patterson grabbed my
right wrist and also was touching me on my left arm, chest,
stomach, and also my upper back. Also during that time he had
turned me around to where my behind was facing him while
touching my back.” Plaintiff continues, “Also
during that time he made unwanted/inappropriate gestures to
me. Illegale strip search/sexual assualt to an inmate by a
employee at a correctional facility and failure to maintain
my security in a correctional facility.” Plaintiff
states that “[a]ll of this is on video.” He
asserts, “Also he doesn't work here anymore because
of this situation.”
relief, Plaintiff seeks punitive damages.
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).
Court construes the complaint as alleging an illegal strip
search and sexual assault in violation of the Eighth
Amendment against HCJ and Defendant Patterson in his
individual and official capacities.
HCJ is not a “person” subject to suit under
§ 1983 because municipal departments, such as jails, are
not suable under § 1983. Marbry v. Corr. Med.
Servs., No. 99-6706, 2000 U.S. App. LEXIS 28072, at *2
(6th Cir. Nov. 6, 2000) (holding that a jail is not an entity
subject to suit under § 1983); see also Rhodes v.
McDannel, 945 F.2d 117, 120 (6th Cir. 1991) (holding
that a police department may not be sued under § 1983).
In this situation, Hopkins County is the proper defendant.
Smallwood v. Jefferson Cty. Gov't, 743 F.Supp.
502, 503 (W.D. Ky. 1990). Further, Hopkins County is a
“person” for purposes of § 1983. See
Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436
U.S. 658, 690 n.55 (1978). The Court therefore will construe
the claim against HCJ as a claim brought against Hopkins
“[o]fficial-capacity suits . . . ‘generally
represent  another way of pleading an action against an
entity of which an officer is an agent.'”
Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985)
(quoting Monell, 436 U.S. at 690 n.55). Suing
employees in their official capacities is the equivalent of
suing their employer. Lambert v. Hartman, 517 F.3d
433, 439-40 (6th Cir. 2008); Matthews v. Jones, 35
F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994); Smallwood v. Jefferson
Cty. Gov't, 743 F.Supp. at 503. Therefore, the Court
construes Plaintiff's official-capacity claim against
Patterson as brought against his employer, Hopkins County.
§ 1983 claim is made against a municipality, this Court
must analyze two distinct issues: (1) whether 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, Tex.,
503 U.S. 115, 120 (1992). The Court will first address the
second issue, i.e., whether the municipality is
responsible for the alleged constitutional violation.
municipality cannot be held responsible for a constitutional
deprivation unless there is a direct causal link between a
municipal policy or custom and the alleged constitutional
deprivation. Monell, 436 U.S. at 691; Deaton v.
Montgomery Cty., Ohio, 989 F.2d 885, 889 (6th Cir.
1993). To demonstrate municipal liability, a plaintiff
“must (1) identify the municipal policy or custom, (2)
connect the policy to the municipality, and (3) show that his
particular injury was incurred due to execution of that
policy.” Alkire v. Irving, 330 F.3d 802, 815
(6th Cir. 2003) (citing Garner v. Memphis Police
Dep't, 8 F.3d 358, 364 (6th Cir. 1993)). The policy
or custom “must be ‘the moving force of the
constitutional violation' in order to ...