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Sapp v. Daviess County Detention Ctr.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro

October 3, 2018

JONATHAN ROBERT SAPP PLAINTIFF
v.
DAVIESS COUNTY DETENTION CTR. DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH H. MCKINLEY, JR., CHIEF JUDGE

         This is a pro se civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is before the Court for screening of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss some of Plaintiff's claims but allow him the opportunity to amend his complaint.

         I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff Jonathan Robert Sapp is incarcerated at Daviess County Detention Center (DCDC). He names DCDC as the Defendant in this action. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he is either not receiving medical care or is receiving inadequate medical care for the following physical symptoms and/or conditions - hearing loss, headaches, an ear infection, blood in urine, a kidney infection, signs of kidney failure, significant weight loss, severe pain, and a “broken” tooth. Plaintiff also alleges that he suffers from “severe mental depression” and is “ready to commit some of harmful reason to die.” He states: “The jail is killing me slowly. And nothing I can do about it.” Plaintiff makes additional allegations concerning his diet. As relief, Plaintiff seeks damages.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         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 complaint, or any portion of it, if the court determines that the complaint 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).

         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)). “But the district court need not accept a ‘bare assertion of legal conclusions.'” Tackett, 561 F.3d at 488 (quoting Columbia Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995)). “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 this Court recognizes that pro se pleadings are to be held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991), “[o]ur duty to be ‘less stringent' with pro se complaints does not require us to conjure up unpled allegations.” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation omitted). And this Court is not required to create a claim for Plaintiff. Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975). To command otherwise would require the Court “to explore exhaustively all potential claims of a pro se plaintiff, [and] would also transform the dist rict 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

         DCDC is not an entity subject to suit under § 1983. Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994). Rather, the claims against it are actually against Daviess County as the real party in interest. Id. (“Since the Police Department is not an entity which may be sued, Jefferson County is the proper party to address the allegations of Matthews's complaint.”).

         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, 120 (1992). The Court will first address the second issue, i.e., whether the municipality is responsible for the alleged constitutional violation.

         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. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978); Deaton v. Montgomery Cty., Ohio, 989 F.2d 885, 889 (6th Cir. 1993). 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)). 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 v. City of Dayton, 38 F.3d 282, 286 (6th Cir. 1994) (quoting Polk Cty. v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 326 (1981) (citation omitted)).

         In the instant case, Plaintiff does not claim that any alleged violation of his constitutional rights was the result of a policy or custom implemented or endorsed by Daviess County. Accordingly, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's claims against Daviess County for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         The Court, however, is concerned about the seriousness of Plaintiff's allegations and will allow Plaintiff the opportunity to amend his complaint to name as Defendants any individuals whom he believes have violated or continue to violate his constitutional rights. See, e.g., LaFountain v. Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013) (“[U]nder Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a district court can allow a plaintiff to ...


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