Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Watson v. Southern Health Partners

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

October 3, 2018

REGINALD K. WATSON JR. PLAINTIFF
v.
SOUTHERN HEALTH PARTNERS et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., Chief Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on initial review of Plaintiff Reginald K. Watson Jr.'s pro se complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons that follow, the Court will dismiss the claims against the named Defendants and allow Plaintiff an opportunity to file an amended complaint.

         I. SUMMARY OF CLAIMS

         Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee in the Hardin County Detention Center (HCDC). He brings suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Southern Health Partners (SHP) and Carmen Blackburn, identified as “medical team administrator” at HCDC, in their individual and official capacities. Plaintiff alleges that he is being denied medication for bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety and asserts state-law claims of medical malpractice and emotional distress. As relief, Plaintiff specifically seeks damages, but the Court liberally construes his complaint as also seeking injunctive relief in the form of directing he be provided mental health treatment and/or medication.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner seeking relief against governmental entities, officers, and/or employees, this Court must review the instant action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under § 1915A, the trial 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).

         III. ANALYSIS

         At the outset, while Plaintiff specifically alleges state-law claims of medical malpractice and emotional distress, the Court construes the § 1983 complaint as also alleging a Fourteenth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference to a serious medical need.[1]

         A. Section 1983 claims against SHP and Defendant Blackburn in her official capacity

         “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)). Thus, the official-capacity claim against Defendant Blackburn, to the extent that she is employed by HCDC, is brought against Hardin County. See Lambert v. Hartman, 517 F.3d 433, 440 (6th Cir. 2008).

         When a § 1983 claim is made against a municipality, like Hardin County, 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, 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; 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 policy to the municipality, and (3) show that his particular injury was incurred due to execution of that policy.” Alkire v. Irving, 330 F.3d 802, 815 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Garner v. Memphis Police Dep't, 8 F.3d 358, 364 (6th Cir. 1993)).

         To the extent that Defendant Blackburn may be employed by SHP, her official-capacity claim is against Defendant SHP. The same municipal-liability analysis applies to § 1983 claims against a private corporation like SHP.[2]See Street v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 818 (6th Cir. 1996) (“Monell involved a municipal corporation, but every circuit to consider the issue has extended the holding to private corporations as well.”). Liability must be based on a policy or custom of the contracted private entity or “the inadequacy of [an employee's] training.” Id. at 817; Starcher v. Corr. Med. Sys., Inc., 7 Fed.Appx. 459, 465 (6th Cir. 2001) ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.