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Moorman v. Belt

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

May 2, 2018




         This is a pro se civil rights action brought by a convicted prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff Curtis Moorman leave to proceed in forma pauperis. This matter is before the Court for screening of Plaintiff's amended complaint (DN 9) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons set forth below, this action will be dismissed in part and allowed to proceed in part.


         Plaintiff is incarcerated at Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP). He brings this action against five named KSP officials in both their official and individual capacities - KSP Unit Administrator Troy Belt, Lieutenant Jesse Coombs, Sergeant Brandon Inglish, Officer Nathaniel Deboe, and Officer Pillion - and “Three John Doe Officers (Unknown).”

         In the amended complaint, Plaintiff writes as follows:

On June 29, 2017, excessive force was used against me by [Defendants Inglish and Deboe] when [Defendant] Inglish shot me with an X-26 Taser and [Defendant] Deboe activated an electric shock shield on me while I was strapped down in a restraint chair. [Defendants Belt, Coombs, and Inglish] violated policy by leaving me in the restraint chair for 4 hours. On June 30, 2017, excessive force was used on me by unnamed officers while escorting me to be interviewed by Internal Affairs when officers twisted my wrist up so bad I was forced to walk hunched over, my head was rammed into 16 doors, I was ran headfirst into a metal gate and pushed down a flight of stairs. On July 5, 2017, unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain was maliciously and sadistically inflicted in bad faith to caused harm was used by [Defendants Deboe and Pillion] and several unnamed officers while I was being escorted to be interviewed . . . when [Defendants Deboe and Pillion] placed handcuffs on me so tight my circulation was cut off instantly and again my wrists were twisted and brought up so high behind my back until my head was near my ankles between my knees and I was forced to walk in a hurried pace while my head was rammed into the 16 doors along the walk (steel cell doors) and again I was slammed into a huge steel gate and pushed down a flight of stairs again. The same thing was done to me on my way back to my cell and once I was placed in my cell officers pulled my arms through the tray slot and grabbed the handcuffs and kicked off my cell door while jerking on my handcuffs in an attempt to break my wrists before finally uncuffing me. On July 6, 2017, the same two officers came to escort me . . . and the same identical mentioned force was applied to me as it had been done the day before, it was repeated.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief in the form of “transfer to [a] different facility.”


         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 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).

         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)). “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).

         Although this Court recognizes that pro se pleadings are to be held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991), “[o]ur duty to be ‘less stringent' with pro se complaints does not require us to conjure up unpled allegations.” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation omitted). And this Court is not required to create a claim for 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).

         III. ANALYSIS

         “Section 1983 creates no substantive rights, but merely provides remedies for deprivations of rights established elsewhere.” Flint ex rel. Flint v. Ky. Dep't of Corr., 270 F.3d 340, 351 (6th Cir. 2001). Two elements are required to state a claim under § 1983. Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635 (1980). “[A] plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). “Absent either element, a section 1983 claim will not lie.” Christy v. Randlett, 932 F.2d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 1991).

         A. ...

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