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Winters v. Williams

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

September 18, 2018

ZACHREY DONYELLE WINTERS PLAINTIFF
v.
STEVEN WILLIAMS et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          THOMAS B. RUSSELL, SENIOR JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Zachrey Donyelle Winters filed a pro se, in forma pauperis complaint. This case is before the Court for screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). For the following reasons, some claims will be dismissed, and Plaintiff will be given an opportunity to amend his complaint.

         I. SUMMARY OF CLAIMS

         Plaintiff is an inmate at the Fulton County Detention Center (FCDC). He names as Defendants Jailer Steven Williams in his official capacity and Dr. Chris Weatherspoon in his individual and official capacities. He alleges that his high blood pressure has not been properly treated in violation of the Constitution's Cruel-and-Unusual-Punishments Clause and state law. He states that after numerous requests, he was finally seen by a nurse, and, at that time, his blood pressure was 179 over 119. He alleges that due to his high blood pressure he has had a severe headache for months.

         Plaintiff asks for monetary and punitive damages and injunctive relief.

         II. ANALYSIS

         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 action, 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 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) and (2). 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 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. When determining whether Plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court must construe the complaint in a light most favorable to Plaintiff and accept all factual allegations as true. Prater v. City of Burnside, Ky., 289 F.3d 417, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). While a reviewing court must liberally construe pro se pleadings, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam), to avoid dismissal, a complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         A. Official-capacity claims

         Naming Defendants, employees of Fulton County, in their official capaciteies is the same as suing the county itself. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Therefore, Plaintiff's official-capacity claims against Defendants are actually brought against the Fulton County government. See Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994).

         When a § 1983 claim is made against a municipality, like Fulton County, a court must analyze two distinct issues: (1) whether the 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 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, 436 U.S. at 691 (emphasis in original); 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)) (emphasis in Pembaur).

         A 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 v. N.Y.C. Dept. of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978); Deaton v. Montgomery Cty., Ohio, 989 F.2d 885, 889 (6th Cir. 1993). Simply stated, the plaintiff must “identify the policy, connect the policy to the city itself and show that the particular injury was incurred because of the execution of that policy.” Garner v. Memphis Police Dep't, 8 F.3d 358, 364 (6th Cir. 1993) (quoting Coogan v. City of Wixom, 820 F.2d 170, 176 (6th Cir. 1987), overruled on other grounds by Frantz v. Vill. of Bradford, 245 F.3d 869 (6th Cir. 2001)). The policy or custom “must be ‘the moving force of the constitutional violation' in order to establish the liability of a government body under § 1983.” Searcy, 38 F.3d at 286 (quoting Polk Cty. v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 326 (1981) (citation omitted)); Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs of Bryan Cty., Okla. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 404 (1997) (indicating that plaintiff must demonstrate “deliberate conduct”).

         The Court finds that Plaintiff has not alleged that a Fulton County custom or policy was the moving force behind any of the alleged constitutional violations. Plaintiff's official-capacity claims will be dismissed.

         B. Individual-capacity claim against ...


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