United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, Pikeville
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
GREGORY F. VAN TATENHOVE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
se plaintiff Michael Padgett has filed a complaint under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging various violations of his
civil rights. Padgett has been granted pauper status, and his
complaint is now before the Court for an initial screening.
Upon review, some of Padgett's claims will be dismissed
for failure to state a claim,  but others require a response
from the relevant defendants. The fate of each claim is as
Claims One through Four of Padgett's complaint allege
excessive force used by four Big Sandy Regional Detention
Center (“BSRDC”) employees in both their
individual and official capacities. [R. 1 at 5-7.] The Court
finds that a response is warranted for Padgett's
excessive force claims against the four employees (Lieutenant
Michael Copley, Lieutenant Josh Cole, Deputy Kenneth Swaffer,
and Lieutenant James Workman) in their individual capacities.
But Padgett's claims against the BSRDC employees in their
official capacities are dismissed for failure to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted.
its label, an “official capacity” claim against a
state officer is not a claim against the officer arising out
of his or her conduct as an employee of the state but rather
a claim directly against the employing state agency. Thus,
Padgett's claims against the four employees in their
official capacities are actually claims against BSRDC itself.
See Alkire v. Irving, 330 F.3d 802, 810 (6th Cir.
2003) (explaining that “individuals sued in their
official capacities stand in the shoes of the entity they
represent”). That said, BSRDC is not a suable entity
apart from the county that operates it. See, e.g.,
Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir.
1994) (“Since the Police Department is not an entity
which may be sued, Jefferson County is the proper party to
address the allegations of [the plaintiff's]
complaint.”). The Court will thus construe those
official capacity claims as claims against Johnson County,
noting that Johnson County may only be held liable if
Padgett's injuries were the result of an unconstitutional
policy or custom of the county. Id.; see also
Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658
Padgett takes issue with the health of BSRDC as a facility,
Padgett does not suggest that Johnson County had a policy of
using excessive force against inmates or that some county
policy or custom resulted in his alleged constitutional harm.
[See R. 1 at 7.] Accordingly, the excessive force
claims against BSRDC employees in their official capacities
are properly dismissed.
Claim Five of Padgett's complaint alleges failure to
supervise against BSRDC as a facility. As already noted, a
claim against BSRDC is actually a claim against the county
instead of the detention center itself. And to succeed on a
failure to supervise claim against the county, Padgett must
show that (1) the county acted with deliberate indifference
to the risk of excessive force, and (2) the county's
deliberate indifference was the moving force behind the
constitutional violations. See Amerson v. Waterford
Township, 562 Fed.Appx. 484, 491-92 (6th Cir. 2014)
(citing Mize v. Tedford, 375 Fed.Appx. 497, 500 (6th
Cir. 2010)). While Padgett's complaint might imply BSRDC
administrator Pete Fitzpatrick acted with negligence, the
complaint does not allege any wrongful action on the part of
the county. Accordingly, municipal liability will not lie.
in Claim Six of the complaint, Padgett sues the Johnson
County Sheriff's Department for its failure to properly
instruct and train BSRDC deputies. [R. 1 at 5-8.] Like with
the claims against BSRDC and the employees in their official
capacities, this claim is more accurately described as a
claim against Johnson County itself. See Matthews,
35 F.3d at 1049. According to the Sixth Circuit Court of
The County is liable under § 1983 for failure to train
if the Plaintiff can prove three elements: (1) that a
training program is inadequate to the tasks that the officers
must perform; (2) that the inadequacy is the result of the
[County]'s deliberate indifference; and (3) that the
inadequacy is closely related to or actually caused the
Phillips v. Roane Cnty., Tenn., 534 F.3d 531, 543
(6th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted). Padgett claims that BSRDC employees “have not
had proper training when dealing with inmates” and that
the alleged excessive force incidents would not have occurred
but for better training from the Johnson County Sheriff's
Department. [R. 1 at 8.] But noticeably absent from the
complaint's failure to train allegations is a claim that
the inadequate training was the result of Johnson
County's deliberate indifference. [See id.]
indifference is a stringent standard of fault, requiring
proof that a municipal actor disregarded a known or obvious
consequence of his action.” Connick v.
Thompson, 563 U.S. 51, 61 (2011). See also Pembaur
v. City of Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469, 483 (1986)
(“We hold that municipal liability under § 1983
attaches where-and only where-a deliberate choice to follow a
course of action is made from among various alternatives . .
.”). Padgett's allegations might imply negligence
in training, but that does not amount to an actual
constitutional violation. Thus, Claim Six will also be
conclusion, Claims One through Four of Padgett's
complaint survive the Court's preliminary screening to
the extent those claims allege the use of excessive force
against four BSRDC employees in their individual capacities.
Because Padgett is proceeding in forma pauperis, the
United States Marshals Service will serve the summons and
complaint on those individuals on Padgett's behalf.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(3); 28 U.S.C. §
1915(d). However, Padgett's remaining allegations fail to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted and thus are
properly dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
the Court hereby ORDERS as follows:
allegations in Claims One through Four against Defendants
Lieutenant Michael Copley, Lieutenant Josh Cole, Deputy
Kenneth Swaffer, and Lieutenant James Workman in their
individual capacities survive the Court's 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2) screening and may PROCEED
as set forth below;
allegations in Claims One through Four against the Defendants
in their ...