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Brown v. Shrewsberry

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

May 23, 2019



          Rebecca Grady Jennings, District Judge

         Plaintiff Kenneth Lee Brown filed a pro se, in forma pauperis complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter 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 reasons set forth below, the action will be dismissed in part and allowed to continue in part.


         Plaintiff is a prisoner at the Breckinridge County Detention Center (BCDC). He names as Defendants BCDC Jailer Tara Shrewsberry in her individual and official capacities and the BCDC. Plaintiff first alleges that in September 2018, Defendant Shrewsberry refused to give him a § 1983 packet and that once he asked for one, he was “reprimanded by not being able to participate in any programs this facility offered.” He also states that his request for “work detail” was denied even though he qualified for it.

         Plaintiff next alleges that on September 12, 2018, he was refused access to the law library. He states that Major Troy Seelve spoke to him and was very upset and told Plaintiff he would no longer do anything to help him. He states further, “Also being reprimanded for requesting a 1983.” Plaintiff alleges that from July 7, 2018, he was watched in the shower “on camera, the camera can see in the shower[.] Inappropriate comment was made.” Plaintiff next states that on October 7, 2018, BCDC was “withholding mail being sent to me all because I requested a § 1983 packet.”

         Finally, Plaintiff alleges that on September 18, 2018, he was attacked by a county inmate, which was caught on camera. He states that, even though he tried to get away, he was placed in the “hole” for seven days. He states that the attack occurred about a week after he requested the § 1983 packet and that he was punished even though he was attacked.

         As relief, Plaintiff asks for monetary damages and injunctive relief in the form of being transferred to another facility.

         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 a 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 of the 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).

         A. Claim related to work detail/prison programs

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Shrewsberry “reprimanded” him after he requested a § 1983 packet by not allowing him to participate in any programs offered at BCDC and also by denying his request for “work detail” even though he qualified for it. The Court interprets this claim to be that Defendant Shrewsberry retaliated against Plaintiff in violation of the First Amendment.

         Retaliation based upon a prisoner's exercise of his or her constitutional rights violates the Constitution. See Thaddeus-X v. Blatter, 175 F.3d 378, 394 (6th Cir. 1999) (en banc). In order to set forth a First Amendment retaliation claim, a plaintiff must establish that: (1) he was engaged in protected conduct; (2) an adverse action was taken against him that would deter a person of ordinary firmness from engaging in that conduct; and (3) the adverse action was motivated, in least in part, by the protected conduct. Id.

         The Court will allow this claim to continue against Defendant Shrewsberry in her individual capacity. See Bradley v. Conarty, No. 17-2340, 2018 WL 5883929, at *2 (6th Cir. Sept. 13, 2018) (“[T]he loss of a prison job can in some circumstances be deemed an adverse action for purposes of a retaliation claim.”); see also Walton v. Gray, 695 Fed.Appx. 144, 145-46 (6th Cir. 2017) (per curiam).

         If an action is brought against an official of a governmental entity in his official capacity, the suit should be construed as brought against the governmental entity. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Therefore, in the case at bar, Plaintiff's claim against Defendant Shrewsberry, an employee of BCDC, in her official capacity, is actually ...

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