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Ashby v. Louisville Metro Corrections Medical

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

September 21, 2018




         Plaintiff David Lee Ashby, Jr., pro se, initiated this in forma pauperis action by filing a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 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, some claims will be allowed to proceed, and Plaintiff will be allowed to amend his complaint.


         Plaintiff names as Defendants Louisville Metro Department of Corrections (LMDC) “medical”; Fulton County “medical”; nurse practitioner Mrs. Metts at Roederer Correctional Complex (RCC); RCC “medical”; and the Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC). He alleges that he was locked up as a pretrial detainee at LMDC on May 31, 2017, at which time he told the medical team that he had a hernia. He states that the only treatment he received was an antibiotic, “which is not something to help a hernia.” He further states that when he finally saw a doctor “they shipped me a week later to Fulton County Jail” on September 24, 2017.

         Plaintiff alleges that at Fulton County Jail he “begged and finally got to see a doctor on 10-22-17. He wanted to send me for surgery that day and Fulton County said they would not pay for it.” Plaintiff next alleges that he was then sent to RCC where he informed the intake nurse that he needed surgery. According to the complaint, the nurse told him that “protocol was I see a doctor in 14 days.” He states that he did not see a nurse practitioner until November 15, 2017, “at which time she [Defendant Metts] told me she scheduled me to see a surgeon.” According to Plaintiff, the surgeon told him that he needed surgery. However, Plaintiff states that Defendant Metts told him that “protocol was that she couldn't schedule me for surgery due to my release date.” Plaintiff alleges that he called “public advocacy so the State of Kentucky has been aware of this problem since May.” Plaintiff states that he still has not had surgery, which, he alleges, causes him pain and is cruel and unusual punishment.

         Attached to his complaint are several documents, including a document from Defendant Metts assessing Plaintiff with, among other things, a unilateral inguinal hernia without obstruction or gangrene.

         As relief, Plaintiff asks for monetary and punitive damages.

         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).

         Defendant LMDC Medical

         Plaintiff does not name specific individuals at LMDC who allegedly infringed upon his constitutional rights; instead he sues the LMDC medical staff in their official capacities. Naming as Defendants the LMDC medical staff, employees of the Louisville Metro Government, in their official capacities is the same as suing the Louisville Metro Government itself. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Therefore, Plaintiff's official-capacity claims against Defendant LMDC medical staff are actually brought against the Louisville Metro Government government. See Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994).

         When a § 1983 claim is made against a municipality, 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 v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978) (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, 436 U.S. at 691; 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 ...

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