United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
REGINALD K. WATSON JR. PLAINTIFF
SOUTHERN HEALTH PARTNERS et al. DEFENDANTS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. McKinley, Jr., Chief Judge.
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
SUMMARY OF CLAIMS
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.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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).
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).
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.
Section 1983 claims against SHP and Defendant Blackburn in
her 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).
§ 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.
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)).
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.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)