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Thomas v. Brady

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky

April 29, 2019

CHARLES MICHAEL THOMAS, JR. PLAINTIFF
v.
AMY BRADY DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Joseph H. McKinley Jr., District Judge

         This is a pro se civil rights action brought 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 this action.

         I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff Charles Michael Thomas, Jr., is a federal pretrial detainee incarcerated at the Henderson County Detention Center (HCDC). He sues HCDC Jailer Amy Brady in her official capacity.

         Plaintiff first alleges that his rights are being violated because federal pretrial detainees like himself are housed with “state and county inmates.” Plaintiff next alleges that HCDC is overcrowded. He claims that his cell is designed for ten men but that 15 to 16 inmates are housed there. He states that this causes himself and five other people to sleep on the floor with paper thin mattresses. He also claims that the cell has only one toilet, “which is on a 15 min timer locking after two flushes, feces are being left in the toilet for periods of time from multiple inmates which causing harmful bacteria . . . and that starts becoming unsanitary.” Plaintiff further alleges that the one shower in their cell has “black mold all inside of it . . . . They have sent trustees to paint over it an says its been treated and its still there . . . has caused myself to break out due to the unsanitary inhumane living conditions.” Plaintiff also states that the diet served to inmates at HCDC fails to meet certain dietary standards, including the recommendation that inmates receive two pieces of fruit daily.

         Finally, Plaintiff claims that inmates are not always permitted to have one hour of recreation per day and that sometimes they are forced to have recreation outside in cold weather “with no coats or sweaters.” Plaintiff also makes allegations regarding the medical care inmates at HCDC receive, but none of the allegations are specific to Plaintiff.

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

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         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 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).

         While the Eighth Amendment provides an inmate the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, it is the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment that provides the same protections to pretrial detainees. Richmond v. Huq, 885 F.3d 928, 937 (6th Cir. 2018) (citing Richko v. Wayne Cty., 819 F.3d 907, 915 (6th Cir. 2016)). “The Sixth Circuit has historically analyzed Fourteenth Amendment pretrial detainee claims and Eighth Amendment prisoner claims ‘under the same rubric.'” Id. (quoting Villegas v. Metro Gov't of Nashville, 709 F.3d 563, 568 (6th Cir. 2013)).[1]

         “[P]rison officials must ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care, and must ‘take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates.'” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (quoting Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526-27 (1984)). However, “[n]ot every unpleasant experience a prisoner might endure while incarcerated constitutes cruel and unusual punishment within the meaning of the Eighth Amendment.” Ivey v. Wilson, 832 F.2d 950, 954 (6th Cir. 1987). “Extreme ...


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