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Boyington v. Walker

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

August 1, 2018

ANTHONY D. BOYINGTON PLAINTIFF
v.
SGT. WALKER DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GREG N. STIVERS, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on initial review of Plaintiff Anthony D. Boyington's pro se complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons that follow, the Court will dismiss the instant action.

         I. SUMMARY OF CLAIMS

         Plaintiff, a pretrial detainee incarcerated at the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections (LMDC), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against LMDC Sgt. Walker in his official capacity.

         In the complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on January 27, 2018, he was moved from his dorm to the fifth floor because he told Defendant Walker that he “had a problem with some inmates that was in dorm 5-3.” He claims that Defendant Walker told him that “since I checked out of that dorm he was going to keep me in Dorm 9 on the 5th floor since I didnt want to go into a harmful situation and he told me to suck it up and be a man.” Plaintiff states that Defendant Walker “kept me in Dorm 9 from 1-27-2018 [illegible] until that morning until 1-28-2018 without no water no running sink or toliet or no sheets or a mattress in this cold cell and I felt like he treated me like an animal in a cage and disrespect me as a human being because I am locked up.” Plaintiff claims that Defendant Walker told him that he “was going to keep me in that holding cell until I went into that harmful situation and I feel like he was going to try and let me get jumped in that dorm.” Plaintiff alleges that another officer went to Dorm 9 and gave him his sheets and a mat for about ten minutes before taking it upon himself to get Plaintiff moved out of that holding cell.

         Plaintiff contends that Defendant Walker “wasnt held accountable for his actions as a high ranking officer at lmdc. The only thing they told me was he was going to be counseled on his interpersonal relations with inmate population.” As relief, Plaintiff seeks damages.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner seeking relief against governmental entities, officers, and/or employees, the 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 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).

         Although courts are to hold pro se pleadings “to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972), this duty to be less stringent “does not require us 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 courts “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

         Plaintiff sues Defendant Walker in his official capacity only. “Official-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, 166 (1985) (quoting Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 n.55 (1978)). Plaintiff's official-capacity claims against Defendant Walker, therefore, are actually against the Louisville Metro Government. See Lambert v. Hartman, 517 F.3d 433, 440 (6th Cir. 2008).

         When a § 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');">503 U.S. 115, 120 (1992). The Court will address the issues in reverse order.

         “[A] municipality cannot be held liable solely because it employs a tortfeasor -- or, in other words, a municipality cannot be held liable under § 1983 on a respondeat superior theory.” Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691(1978); Searcy v. City of Dayton, 38 F.3d 282, 286 (6th Cir. 1994); Berry v. City of Detroit, 25 F.3d 1342, 1345 (6th Cir. 1994). “[T]he touchstone of ‘official policy' is designed ‘to distinguish acts of the municipality from acts of employees of the municipality, and thereby make clear that municipal liability is limited to action for which the municipality is actually responsible.'” City of St. Louis v. Praprotnik, 485 U.S. 112, 138 (1988) (quoting Pembaur v. Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469, 479-80 (1986)). To demonstrate municipal liability, a plaintiff “must (1) identify the municipal policy or custom, (2) connect the ...


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