United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HORN BOOM, : UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the amended complaint filed by
pro se plaintiffs Jorge Solano-Moreta and Landon
Price. [R. 15] Solano-Moreta and Price initially filed a
joint civil rights complaint in November 2018. [R. 1] At that
time, both Plaintiffs were incarcerated at the United States
Penitentiary-McCreary in Pine Knot, Kentucky. The Court
screened the Complaint and found that some of the allegations
failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.
respect to the remaining claims, the Court held that
Solano-Moreta and Price were improperly joined as
Co-Plaintiffs under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20.
Id. Thus, the Court severed Price's surviving
civil rights claims into a separate action, see Price v.
Cunnagin, et al., 6:18-cv-313-CHB (E.D. Ky. 2018), and
Ordered Solano-Moreta's surviving claims to proceed in
the present case. [R. 9] The Court also ordered the United
States Marshals Service to issue summonses to the relevant
defendants in both cases. Id.
the time the original complaint was filed, both Solano-Moreta
and Price have been transferred away from USP-McCreary.
Solano-Moreta is presently incarcerated in Thomson, Illinois,
and Price at USP-Coleman II in Sumterville,
months after the Court screened the initial Complaint, the
Court received the amended complaint in this
matter. Although the Court previously severed
Price from this case, and although Solano-Moreta and Price
were no longer incarcerated at the same facility at the time
the Amended Complaint was drafted, purportedly signed, and
filed,  the Amended Complaint identifies both
inmates as Co-Plaintiffs. Amendment once as a matter of
course remains appropriate at this stage of the proceedings,
see Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a), and “[a]n amended
complaint supersedes an earlier complaint for all
purposes.” In re Refrigerant Compressors Antitrust
Litigation, 731 F.3d 586, 589 (6th Cir. 2013).
Therefore, the Court considers the Amended Complaint the
operative pleading in this matter and screens the claims
pursuant to the terms of the Prison Litigation Reform Act.
See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A, 1915(e)(2).
to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A, 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court
shall dismiss the case, or any portion thereof, at any time
if the action is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted. At this stage, the
Court accepts all factual allegations as true and liberally
construes all legal claims in the plaintiffs' favor.
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56
Amended Complaint articulates sixteen claims, some which were
brought in the original Complaint but others which are new.
The Amended Complaint also increases the number of named
Defendants from five (5) to twelve (12). [R. 15] Accordingly,
the Amended Complaint presents a variety of joinder questions
under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See,
e.g., Fed.R.Civ.P. 18; 20. But even assuming that the
Plaintiffs' numerous claims are properly joined, most of
the claims must be dismissed for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted.
Amended Complaint seeks injunctive relief on every claim, as
well as money damages from each named Defendant. [R. 15]
While a claim for monetary damages may survive beyond an
inmate plaintiff's transfer from one facility to another,
an inmate's claim for declaratory or injunctive relief
becomes moot when he or she is transferred away from the
institution where the underlying complaint arose. See,
e.g., Colvin v. Caruso, 605 F.3d 282, 289 (6th
Cir. 2010) (finding that the inmate's facility transfer
mooted his request for injunctive relief where the
inmate's claims were directed specifically towards his
prior facility's policies and procedures); Kensu v.
Haigh, 87 F.3d 172, 175 (6th Cir. 1996) (“However,
to the extent [the plaintiff] seeks declaratory and
injunctive relief his claims are now moot as he is no longer
confined to the institution that [allegedly violated his
constitutional rights]”). Because neither Price nor
Solano-Moreta remains incarcerated at USP-McCreary, all of
the Plaintiffs' claims for injunctive relief are now moot
and will be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. §§
the Plaintiffs' claims for money damages, those claims
must be analyzed via the Bivens framework. See
Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S.
388 (1971). Unlike civil rights claims against state
officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983-which is a remedy
explicitly created by Congress-Bivens relief from
federal officials is a judicially-created remedy implied in
only limited circumstances. Ziglar v. Abbasi, 137
S.Ct. 1843, 1854 (2017). “A Bivens remedy is
available only if (1) there are no alternative, existing
processes for protecting a constitutional interest and, (2)
even in the absence of an alternative, there are no special
factors counselling hesitation before authorizing a new kind
of federal litigation.” Haines v. Fed. Motor
Carrier Safety Admin., 814 F.3d 417, 431 (6th Cir. 2016)
(internal quotation marks omitted). Notably, the United
States Supreme Court recently “made clear that
expanding the Bivens remedy is now a
‘disfavored' judicial activity.”
Ziglar, 137 S.Ct. at 1857.
date, the Supreme Court has recognized only three contexts
where a Bivens claim was appropriate: a Fourth
Amendment claim in the search and seizure context, a Fifth
Amendment claim against a congressmen who fired a secretary,
and an Eighth Amendment claim for a prison official's
deliberate indifference to an inmate's medical needs.
Ziglar, 137 S.Ct. at 1854-55. The overwhelming
majority of the sixteen claims in the Plaintiffs' amended
petition fall outside of these three contexts.
Plaintiffs' amended claims include, but are not limited
to, claims regarding lack of access to legal materials,
family photos, and phone calls; a complaint about poor
grievance procedures; and claims regarding
Solano-Moreta's custody classification under the Fifth
Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3). [See R. 15]
Only Claims Three, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, and Fourteen-all
which allege deliberate indifference to either Price's or
Solano-Moreta's medical needs-fall within a context
previously deemed cognizable under Bivens. See
Ziglar, 137 S.Ct. at 1854-55; Carlson v. Green,
446 U.S. 14 (1980) (allowing a Bivens claim for
failure to provide a prisoner medical care). Accordingly, the
Plaintiffs' eleven (11) other claims for money damages,
all which fall outside the three previously recognized
Bivens contexts, fail to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted.
Claims Three, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, and Fourteen, the
Court finds as follows. Claim Three, a claim alleging prison
officials' deliberate indifference towards Price, was
included in the Plaintiffs' original Complaint and has
already been severed into a separate action. That claim is
proceeding in Price v. Cunnagin, et al.,
6:18-cv-313-CHB (E.D. Ky. 2018), according to schedule, and
the Court therefore dismisses it from the present action.
Similarly, the Court finds that, although amended Claim
Eleven is not proceeding in Price v. Cunnagin, that
claim belongs in Price's severed civil rights action
rather than the instant case for the reasons set forth in the
Court's prior Memorandum Opinion and Order. [See
R. 9] Accordingly, Claim Eleven is also dismissed from this
proceeding, without prejudice; Price may pursue that claim
himself in his separate action if he so desires.
Twelve through Fourteen allege prison officials'
deliberate indifference towards Solano-Moreta. Like with
Claim Three, Claims Twelve and Thirteen are the same as
claims brought in the plaintiffs' original complaint and
have already been found to survive the required screening.
[R. 12] Those claims have already been on the relevant
Defendants, and an answer or other response is due on those
claims in the coming weeks.
Claim Fourteen also alleges deliberate indifference towards
Solano-Moreta's medical needs, and this claim did not
appear in the initial complaint. However, the Plaintiffs do
not allege that the Defendant to that claim, Correctional
Officer Hudson, knew that Solano-Moreta had a sufficiently
serious medical need but intentionally disregarded a
substantial risk to Solano-Moreta's health anyway.
See, e.g., Johnson v. Karnes, 398 F.3d 868,
874 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting Comstock v. McCrary,
273 F.3d 693, 607 (6th Cir. 2001)); see also Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). Thus, even though Claim
Fourteen is an Eighth Amendment claim that does fall within
the realm of an approved Bivens allegation, the
claim on its face is not valid. Because the Plaintiffs have