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McDonald v. Green River Correctional Complex

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

March 6, 2019




         This matter is before the Court on initial review of Plaintiff Johnny A. McDonald's pro se amended complaint (DN 34) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.[1] For the reasons that follow, the action will be dismissed in part and allowed to proceed in part.


         Plaintiff is a convicted inmate currently incarcerated at the Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP). He brings his action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and complains of events occurring during his detention at the Green River Correctional Complex (GRCC). He sues the following Defendants in their individual and official capacities: GRCC Warden DeEdra Hart; Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC) Commissioner James L. Erwin; “Correct Care Solutions Corp” (CCS), who Plaintiff states is the medical services contract company at GRCC; CCS Nurses Tim Groves and Kathy Casey; CCS Nurse Practitioner Lessye Crafton; GRCC Case Treatment Officer (CTO) Grant Penrod; GRCC Internal Affairs (IA) Sergeant James W. Stogner; and GRCC IA Lieutenant Holly L. Rickard. Plaintiff having failed to name GRCC as a Defendant in the amended complaint, the Court will direct the Clerk to terminate it as a party to this action.

         In the amended complaint, Plaintiff raises claims alleging denial of medical treatment and interference with his mail. As to his medical treatment claim, Plaintiff reports that he has been diagnosed by several physicians as having “severe high blood pressure.” He states that due to his medical condition, he passed out on September 27, 2017, and nearly passed out on August 17, 2017.[2] He claims, “each time the Plaintiff underwent massive unbearable pain in his chest, massive severe mi-gain headaches and dizziness; and CCS personnel and correctional personnel has blate out ignored the Plaintiff(s) condition which put(s) the Plaintiff at risk of losing his life.” Plaintiff also claims that GRCC staff failed to answer his intercom when he called for medical help for his high blood pressure symptoms. He alleges that the following Defendants were involved in denying or delaying treatment: Defendants Groves, Crafton, Penrod, and Casey.[3]

         Regarding his mail claim, Plaintiff contends that Defendants Rickard and Stogner violated his “first amendment right by tampering with his outgoing mail.” He claims that Defendant Rickard “sent all of [his] legal documents to another inmate Dennis Miller whom later returned the documents” and that Defendant Stogner “prevented Plaintiff to speak freely in letters.” Attachments to the amended complaint reveals that both Defendants Hart and Erwin responded to and denied appeals of grievances filed by Plaintiff.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages and release on parole.


         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner seeking relief against governmental entities, officers, and/or employees, the Court must review the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and dismiss the complaint, or any portion thereof, 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).

         Although courts are to hold pro se pleadings “to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972), this duty to be less stringent “does not require us to conjure up unpled allegations, ” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979), or to create a claim for a plaintiff. Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975). To command otherwise would require courts “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

         “Section 1983 creates no substantive rights, but merely provides remedies for deprivations of rights established elsewhere.” Flint ex rel. Flint v. Ky. Dep't of Corr., 270 F.3d 340, 351 (6th Cir. 2001). Two elements are required to state a claim under § 1983. Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). “[A] plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). “Absent either element, a section 1983 claim will not lie.” Christy v. Randlett, 932 F.2d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 1991).

         A. Claim for ...

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