United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville
N. Stivers, Judge.
Lester Miller filed the instant pro se 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 action proceeding in forma pauperis.
This matter is before the Court on initial review pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons stated below, the
Court will dismiss Plaintiff's claims upon initial
is a pretrial detainee at the Hardin County Jail (HCJ). He
sues the HCJ; HCJ Jailer Danny Allen; and Jamie Motter and
Robert Reynaldes, both identified as lieutenants at HCJ. He
sues Defendants Allen, Motter, and Reynaldes in their
official capacities only.
states that on February 2, 2018, at around 5:30 pm six
inmates started a fire in a cell out of view of a camera. He
reports that, as a result, everyone in his cell pod
“was locked down in our cells so the Deputy's an
Shift Leader could do a investigation.” He maintains
that at 3:00 am two non-Defendant deputies came to the pod
having completed their investigation. Plaintiff states,
“They had reviewed the cameras an knew exactly who was
at falt an could clearly see that there was only 6 people who
was involved. They passed out write-ups to them 6 an we was
told it was over.” However, Plaintiff asserts,
“Later that morning around 8:00 am Deputy House came in
an locked everyone down again. He said Lt. Motter was
responcable. She wanted everyone locked down until
Lt. Reynaldes came in on Monday an could sort it out.”
(Emphasis by Plaintiff.) He states that the inmates asked to
talk to Defendant Motter but their request was denied.
maintains that on February 4, 2018, his family made plans to
take off work and bring his children to see him. He states
that because his family members “work 12 hour days 7
days a week I had not seen any of them in over 3 ½
months.” Plaintiff asserts that when they came on that
Sunday, they were “turned away.” He states,
“In all this I and 12 other people were punished for
somethin we had no involvement in. I belive that we were
punished do to the fact that people who work at this jail
belive that thay can do whatever thay want an that the rules
dont apply to them.” He further states, “I belive
Mass. Punishment is covered the Constitutional Rights of
Prisoner and The Equal Protection Clause § 7.3.”
relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages and
injunctive relief in the form of a letter of apology sent to
his family and a transfer to Meade County Jail.
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).
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).
sues HCJ and sues Allen, Motter, and Reynaldes in their
official capacities only. 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, Hardin County is the
proper defendant. Smallwood v. Jefferson Cty.
Gov't, 743 F.Supp. 502. 503 (W.D. Ky. 1990).
Further, Hardin 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 Hardin County.
“[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 ...