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Johnson v. Henderson County Detention Center Transit Police

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

March 11, 2019



          Joseph H. McKinley Jr., District Judge United States District Court

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


         Plaintiff Hasan Johnson is incarcerated at the Henderson County Detention Center (HCDC). He names the HCDC “Transit Police” and three HCDC officials as Defendants in this in action - “Sgt. McKenzie, ” “Officer Baker, ” and “Colonel Hendrix.” He indicates that he is suing Defendants McKenzie and Baker in their official capacities only and Defendant Hendrix in both his official and individual capacities.

         Plaintiff first seems to allege that from July 2018 until the date he filed the complaint, which was August 14, 2018, [1] he was denied access to his personal property, which included “socks, shoes, boxers, T-shirts, soap, lotion, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.” and “phone numbers, legal work, addresses which results to having no clothes, hygienic treatment, no legal assistance.”

         Plaintiff then alleges that he was temporarily placed in a cell (“505”) which was “directly in front of a open shower that being used all day and all night long.” Plaintiff alleges that this constituted “cruel and unusual punishment.”

         Plaintiff next alleges that he was told to move to “cell 409, ” where he “would have had to sleep with my head or foot in front of toilet on mattress and bed roll.” Plaintiff states that Defendants McKenzie and Baker told him that if he did not stay in “cell 409, ” he would be placed in a disciplinary cell. Plaintiff indicates that when he asked Defendant McKenzie for a different cell, Defendants McKenzie and Baker:

grabbed my arms, gripping hard, causing pain me not resisting I felt the need to cover my face put my hands up and forward it looks like punches are being thrown at me (assault by staff or staff officials police brutality). Then the Sgt. and two other officers start yanking me away with my arms out I felt punches him me in the face I then tried to defend myself. But they had my arms from time to time I then felt punches hit me in my face side of face and back of hand. The next thing I know I was in a [illegible] Officers, Sgts., and Lts. as well hit me with cuff shackles, door keys, walkie-talkies as well kicked and punched by Transit Police Officers. Then tasered with volts and pressure on my right leg real hard . . . . So as the result of the matter I sustained a contusion and facial laceration to side of left eye and bruised and darkened eye with bruised and abrasions on my left side of my face, swelling to my face and head.

         As relief for these alleged violations of his constitutional rights, Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages.


         Because 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). 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] 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] pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). However, while liberal, this standard of review does require more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions. See Columbia Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995). The Court's duty “does not require [it] 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 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

         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 ...

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