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Roberts v. Daviess Co. Detention Center

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

May 24, 2019

DENNIS SHAWN ROBERTS PLAINTIFF
v.
DAVIESS CO. DETENTION CENTER, et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Joseph H. McKinley Jr., District Judge.

         Plaintiff Dennis Shawn Roberts 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, certain claims will be dismissed, and Plaintiff will be afforded the opportunity to amend his complaint.

         I. SUMMARY OF CLAIMS

         Plaintiff is an inmate at the Daviess County Detention Center (DCDC). He names as Defendants the DCDC and in their official and individual capacities DCDC Jailer Art Maglinger, Deputy Moore, and “all staff who handles legal mail.” He alleges that his legal mail has been opened without his consent and outside his presence on several occasions. His claim against Defendant Moore appears to be that Defendant Moore has not provided him with the names of the DCDC employees who handle and sort legal mail. Finally, he asks that if he is to be shipped to another facility because he has filed this lawsuit, “I would request the Class D coordinator of Daviess Co. Det. Center to be asked by this Dist. Court to send me to Crittenden Co. for they have an abundance of classes to get time knocked off sentence so I can return home to my family sooner.”

         As relief, Plaintiff requests monetary, punitive, and injunctive relief.

         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 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).

         Request regarding transfer

         Plaintiff asks that he be sent to Crittenden County if he is to be shipped to another facility because he has filed this lawsuit.

         The Court does not have the authority to supervise classification and assignment of inmates to various institutions, and an inmate does not have a protected right to be assigned to a particular prison, security classification, or housing assignment. Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238 (1983); Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215 (1976); Montanye v. Haymes, 427 U.S. 236 (1976). As such, Plaintiff's request for a transfer must be dismissed.

         Official-capacity claims and claim against DCDC

         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 claims against the employees of DCDC in their official capacities are actually brought against the Daviess County government. See Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994).

         Similarly, Plaintiff's claims against DCDC must also be considered as being brought against Daviess County. DCDC is not a “person” subject to suit under § 1983 because municipal departments, such as jails, are not suable under § 1983. Rhodes v. McDannel, 945 F.2d 117, 120 (6th Cir.1991) (holding that a police department may not be sued under § 1983); see also Marbry v. Corr. Med. Serv., No. 99-6706, 2000 WL 1720959 at *2 (6th Cir. Nov. 6, 2000) (holding that a jail is not an entity subject to suit under § 1983). In this situation, it is Daviess County that is the proper defendant in this case. Smallwood v. Jefferson Cty. Gov't, 743 F.Supp. 502, 503 (W.D. Ky. 1990) (construing claims brought against the Jefferson County Government, the Jefferson County Fiscal Court, and the Jefferson County Judge Executive as claims against Jefferson County itself). Further, Daviess County is a “person” for purposes of § 1983. Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978). The Court will therefore construe the claims against DCDC as being brought against Daviess County.

         When a § 1983 claim is made against a municipality, like Daviess County, a court must analyze two distinct issues: (1) whether the plaintiff's harm was caused by a constitutional violation; and (2) if so, whether the municipality is responsible for that violation. Collins v. City of Harker Heights, ...


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