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Timmerman v. Goodlett

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

April 17, 2019

KELLY GOODLETT et al., Defendants.


          DAVID J. HALE, JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Zackary Timmerman, pro se, filed this in forma pauperis civil-rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case is before the Court for screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). For the following reasons, this case will be dismissed in part and allowed to continue in part.


         Plaintiff is currently a prisoner at the Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP). He names as Defendants the following Luther Luckett Correctional Complex (LLCC) employees: Sgt. Kelly Goodlett, Sgt. Jeremy Smith, Lt. David Crawford, Warden Scott Jordan, and Sgt. Ryan Jansen. He also names Correct Care Solutions (CCS), the medical provider at LLCC.[1] All Defendants are sued in their official and individual capacities.

         Plaintiff states that on January 4, 2018, while housed at LLCC he was tased by Defendants Crawford and Jeremy Smith and had “OC” deployed in his face by Defendant Goodlett in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Section 17 of the Kentucky Constitution's Bill of Rights. He alleges that he passed out from the multiple tasings and has partial memory loss, chest pains, migraines, and anxiety but received no treatment from CCS.

         Plaintiff next alleges that on May 8, 2018, he was tased three times while in a restraint chair by Defendant Jansen and again received no medical treatment. He also alleges that retaliation against him occurred at LLCC because of grievances he filed. He identifies the retaliation as having personal property taken; being placed in segregation; being on razor restriction; being denied sporks, library, recreation, linen exchange, cell cleaning, and contact with family except through U.S. mail; and verbal and mental abuse such as cell searches. The only Defendant he identifies with regard to the retaliation claim is Defendant Jordan, who he says “allowed all of this to happen.”

         As relief, he asks for monetary damages. He attaches a number of exhibits to his complaint, including copies of grievances and disciplinary reports.

         II. ANALYSIS

         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 action, 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 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) and (2). 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 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. When determining whether Plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court must construe the complaint in a light most favorable to Plaintiff and accept all factual allegations as true. Prater v. City of Burnside, Ky., 289 F.3d 417, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). While a reviewing court must liberally construe pro se pleadings, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam), to avoid dismissal, a complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         Claims under Universal Declaration of Human Rights

         Plaintiff's claims under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not a treaty or international agreement that imposes legal obligations. See Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 542 U.S. 692, 734 (2004) (“[T]he Declaration does not of its own force impose obligations as a matter of international law.”). Rather, it is a statement of principles aimed at providing a common standard for international human rights. Id. at 734-35. Because it is not enforceable in American courts, Plaintiff's claims alleging violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be dismissed.

         Claim against Defendant Jordan

         Plaintiff alleges that while at LLCC he was retaliated against in various ways because of grievances he filed and that Defendant Jordan, the warden, “allowed all of this to happen.”

         The doctrine of respondeat superior, or the right to control employees, does not apply in § 1983 actions to impute liability onto supervisors. Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978); Taylor v. Mich. Dep't of Corr., 69 F.3d 76, 80-81 (6th Cir. 1995); Bellamy v. Bradley, 729 F.2d 416, 421 (6th Cir. 1984). Rather, to establish supervisory liability in a § 1983 action, “[t]here must be a showing that the supervisor encouraged the specific incident of misconduct or in some other way directly participated in it. At a minimum, a § 1983 plaintiff must show that a supervisory official at least implicitly authorized, approved or knowingly acquiesced in the unconstitutional conduct of the offending subordinate.” Bellamy, 729 F.2d at 421. “Likewise, simple awareness of employees' misconduct does not lead to supervisor liability.” Leary v. Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888, 903 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Lillard v. Shelby Cty. Bd. of Educ., 76 F.3d 716, 728 (6th Cir. 1996)). Supervisory liability “must be based on active unconstitutional behavior and cannot be based upon ‘a mere failure to ...

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