United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro
HAROLD DONAVAN SANDERS, JR. PLAINTIFF
DAVIESS COUNTY DETENTION CENTER et al. DEFENDANTS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. MCKINLEY JR., DISTRICT JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
Harold Donavan Sanders, Jr., filed the instant pro
se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action proceeding in forma
pauperis. This matter is before the Court on 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 others to proceed for
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).
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).
states that he is a convicted inmate at the Daviess County
Detention Center (DCDC). He sues DCDC; James Hicks, a DCDC
sergeant; and Alex Dixon, a DCDC deputy jailer. He sues
Defendant Hicks in his individual and official capacities. He
does not state in which capacity he sues Defendant Dixon.
However, reading the complaint as a whole and construing it
broadly, as the Court must do at this stage, the Court
construes the complaint as suing Defendant Dixon in both his
individual and official capacities.
alleges that an incident occurred on July 30, 2018, where he
was subjected to excessive force by Defendants Hicks and
Dixon resulting in injuries.
review, the Court will allow Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment
claims for excessive force to proceed against Defendants
Hicks and Dixon in their individual capacities. In
allowing the claims to proceed, the Court passes no judgment
on their merit or ultimate outcome.
“[o]fficial-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, 165 (1985)
(quoting Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 n.55 (1978)). Suing employees
in their official capacities is the equivalent of suing their
employer. Lambert v. Hartman, 517 F.3d 433, 439-40
(6th Cir. 2008); Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046,
1049 (6th Cir. 1994); Smallwood v. Jefferson Cty.
Gov't, 743 F.Supp. 502. 503 (W.D. Ky. 1990).
Therefore, the Court construes Plaintiff's
official-capacity claims against Defendants Hicks and Dixon
as brought against their employer, Daviess County.
addition, Defendant DCDC is not a “person”
subject to suit under § 1983 because municipal
departments, such as jails, are not suable under § 1983.
Marbry v. Corr. Med. Servs., No. 99-6706, 2000 U.S.
App. LEXIS 28072, at *2 (6th Cir. Nov. 6, 2000) (holding that
a jail is not an entity subject to suit under § 1983);
see also Rhodes v. McDannel, 945 F.2d 117, 120 (6th
Cir. 1991) (holding that a police department may not be sued
under § 1983). In this situation, Daviess County is the
proper defendant. Smallwood v. Jefferson Cty.
Gov't, 743 F.Supp. 502, 503 (W.D. Ky. 1990)
(construing claims brought against the Jefferson County
Government, the Jefferson County Fiscal Court, and the
Jefferson County Judge Executive as claims against Jefferson
County itself). The Court will therefore construe the claims
against DCDC as claims against Daviess County, as well.
§ 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). Under the second prong, 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). 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)
instant case, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Hicks and
Dixon subjected him to excessive force. However, he does not
allege that their actions occurred as a result of a policy or
custom implemented or endorsed by Daviess County. The
complaint alleges an isolated occurrence affecting only
Plaintiff. See Fox v. Van Oosterum, 176 F.3d 342,
348 (6th Cir. 1999) (“No evidence indicates that this
was anything more than a one-time, isolated event for which
the county is not responsible.”). Accordingly,
Plaintiff's claims against DCDC ...