United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. WNHOIT JR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Dudley is an inmate at the Eastern Kentucky Correctional
Complex. Dudley has filed a.pro se civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [R. 1], and the
Court has granted Dudley pauper status by separate order. [R.
8.] Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A,
this matter is now before the Court for an initial screening.
See Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 478, 470-71 (6th Cir.
stage of the proceedings, the Court affords Dudley's
complaint a forgiving construction, accepting all
non-conclusory factual allegations as true and liberally
construing all legal claims in Dudley's favor. See
Davis v. Prison Health Servs., 679 F.3d 433, 437-38 (6th
Cir. 2012). However, the Court must still dismiss any claim
that 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. Hill, 630 F.3d at 470-71.
complaint sets forth a lengthy narrative of an incident that
began with alleged intimidation and threats towards Dudley by
Correctional Officer Kenneth Burnett. In short, the complaint
claims that Burnett maliciously lied about Dudley to other
EKCC officers, which resulted in those officers using
excessive force to punish Dudley. The complaint then implies
that, after that punishment was inflicted on Dudley, EKCC
officials realized the punishment was too harsh for
Dudley's actual behavior and colluded to change a
write-up issued against Dudley to make it appear as if their
use of force was appropriate. [See R. 1.] Pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the complaint brings Eighth
Amendment and negligence claims against five EKCC employees
in their official capacities only. [Id. at 2-3.]
what the name of the claim may suggest, an "official
capacity" claim against a government employee is
not a claim against the employee
himself arising out of his conduct as an employee. Instead,
it is a claim directly against the state or local agency
which employs him. See, e.g., Lambert v. Hartman,
517 F.3d 433, 439-40 (6th Cir. 2008); Alkire v.
Irving, 330 F.3d 802, 810 (6th Cir. 2003) (explaining
that "individual capacity" suits impose personal
liability upon government officials but that
"individuals sued in their official capacities stand in
the shoes of the entity they represent"). Accordingly,
Dudley's claims against the five defendants in their
official capacities are actually claims against the
Commonwealth of Kentucky, as the EKCC is a Kentucky
Department of Corrections facility.
municipality-or, in this case, the Commonwealth-is liable
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 "only if the challenged
conduct occurs pursuant to a municipality's official
policy, such that the municipality's promulgation or
adoption of the policy can be said to have caused one of its
employees to violate the plaintiffs constitutional
rights." D'Ambrosio v. Marino, 1A1 F.3d
378, 386 (6th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted)
(citing Monell v. Dept. of Social Servs., 436 U.S.
658 (1978). In this case, Dudley makes no allegation that the
five defendants were acting pursuant to either a formal
policy or informal custom of the Commonwealth.
although Dudley's complaint suggests all five defendants
were acting via some sort of collusion to inflict and/or
cover up the use of force against Dudley, Dudley never
alleges that EKCC consistently abides by a policy of
inflicting excessive force upon inmates or of falsifying
write-ups to justify questionable events. And the complaint
never claims that the Kentucky Department of Corrections is
responsible somehow for the events described therein. The
complaint, therefore, fails to state a claim against the
defendants in their official capacities.
Court notes that if the complaint named the defendants in
their individual capacities, at least some of the allegations
may have survived the Court's initial screening under 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A. But, here, Dudley
affirmatively indicated that he wished to sue the five
defendants in their official capacities only. [R. 1 at 2-3.]
Accordingly, dismissal upon screening is warranted. For the
foregoing reasons, the Court hereby ORDERS
1. Dudley's complaint is DISMISSED for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted;
2. Judgment shall be entered contemporaneously herewith; and
3. This matter is CLOSED and
STRICKEN from the Court's active docket.
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