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Ellison v. Beavers

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

October 15, 2018




         Plaintiff Kendrick Ellison filed the instant pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action proceeding in forma pauperis. This matter is before the Court upon initial review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons stated below, the Court will dismiss some of Plaintiff's claims and allow other claims to proceed for further development.


         Plaintiff is a convicted inmate at the Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP). He names the following KSP personnel as Defendants: James Beavers, identified as an Internal Affairs supervisor; Seth Mitchell, identified as an “IA/Lieutenant”; Melvin O'Dell, identified as a sergeant; James Noland, identified as an “IA/Sergeant”; and Bruce Bauer, identified as a registered nurse. He sues each Defendant in his official and individual capacities.[1]

         Plaintiff states that on June 29, 2017, while he was walking by the yard office, he witnessed KSP staff members assaulting inmates at random. He asserts that without warning he was assaulted by Defendants Mitchell, Beavers, and Noland. He states that he was then escorted to the yard office “out of view of security video cameras.” Plaintiff maintains that he requested medical attention from Defendant Bauer. He asserts that Defendant Bauer “told me to shut my black lips. When I kept requesting help, he threatened to have me beaten in the adjacent room.” Plaintiff states that Defendant O'Dell then entered the yard office and charged at him violently but was stopped by a non-Defendant lieutenant.

         Plaintiff further states that he continued to ask Defendant Bauer for medical help but that Bauer “got so fed up, he instructed Lt. Seth Mitchell and Sgt. Melvin O'Dell to take me in the adjacent room.” He states, “Once in the room, behind closed doors in full metal restraints, ” he was assaulted by Defendants Mitchell and O'Dell. Plaintiff reports that he was then escorted to a segregation unit and placed in a restraint chair for several hours “for no reason” and then given another two hours in the restraint chair by a non-Defendant lieutenant “without incident or justification.”

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his rights under the United States Constitution's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. He also states that Defendants “failed to protect me under equal protection of law as a U.S. citizen.”

         II. 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 district 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

         A. Official-capacity claims

         Plaintiff sues all Defendants in their official capacities. “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)). Defendants are employees of KSP and are therefore state employees. Claims brought against state employees in their official capacities are deemed claims against the Commonwealth of Kentucky. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. at 166. State officials sued in their official capacities for monetary damages are not “persons” subject to suit under § 1983. Will v. Mich. Dep 't of State Police,491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Further, the Eleventh Amendment acts as a bar to claims for monetary damages against state employees or officers sued in their official capacities. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. at ...

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