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Branham v. Jordan

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

April 17, 2018

BRYAN ANTHONY BRANHAM PLAINTIFF
v.
WARDEN SCOTT JORDAN et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Thomas B. Russell, Senior Judge United States District Court.

         This matter is before the Court on initial review of the amended complaint (DN 10) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons that follow, a portion of the claims will continue and others will be dismissed.

         I. BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF CLAIMS

         Plaintiff Bryan Anthony Branham, a convicted inmate currently incarcerated at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex (LLCC), filed a pro se complaint (DN 1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In the complaint, as Defendants, he named LLCC Warden Scott Jordan; LLCC Captain Tim Forgy;[1] LLCC Deputy Warden of Security Webb Strang; LLCC Deputy Warden of Programs Jessie Stack; and former Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC) Commissioner Rodney Ballard. He sued each Defendant in his/her official capacity.

         Plaintiff brought three claims in the original complaint. First, he alleged that his forced placement in Narcotics Anonymous (NA) violated the Establishment Clause and that the posting of bulletins/memos regarding NA violated his privacy rights. Second, he challenged a change in visitation policy with respect to bathroom breaks, alleging cruel and unusual punishment, discrimination, and violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Finally, he alleged that he was transferred to Little Sandy Correctional Complex (LSCC) from LLCC by Defendant Forgy in retaliation for filing grievances. As relief, Plaintiff sought damages and injunctive relief in the form of ordering his transfer back to LLCC and ordering the “D.O.C. to seace Retaliation Efforts.”

         On initial review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (DN 9), the Court dismissed the official-capacity claims and provided Plaintiff with an opportunity to file an amended complaint to name as Defendants in their individual capacity those persons who he claims harmed him and to explain how each Defendant violated his rights. Plaintiff has filed an amended complaint, which the Court will now review under § 1915A.

         The amended complaint is virtually identical to the original complaint with the exceptions that in the amended complaint, Plaintiff now sues Defendants Jordan, Forgy, Strang, Stack, and Ballard only in their individual capacities and now seeks the following relief: damages, an injunction “prohibitting the D.O.C. from continuing the acts outlined in my suit, ” and for the Court to “make effort to pursue investigation against the D.O.C. for their mallicious and unauthorized practice.” In the amended complaint, Plaintiff raises the same three claims raised in the original complaint.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         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. The statute requires the Court to 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).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Claims 1 and 3

         Upon consideration, the Court will allow Claim 1 (that Plaintiff's forced placement in NA violated the Establishment Clause and that the posting of bulletins/memos regarding NA violated his privacy rights) to continue against Defendants Warden Jordan and Deputy Warden of Programs Stack, who presumably for the purposes of initial review implemented and enforced the policies of forced placement of prisoners in NA and posting of confidential information, and Claim 3 (that Plaintiff was transferred to LSCC from LLCC in retaliation for filing grievances) to continue against Defendant Forgy.

         B. ...


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