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Bowshier v. Gunter

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

June 4, 2019

DEPUTY MIKE GUNTER et al., Defendants.


          David J. Hale, Judge.

         Plaintiff Donovan John Bowshier filed the instant pro se 28 U.S.C. § 1983 action proceeding in forma pauperis. This matter is before the Court on initial review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Upon review, the Court will dismiss some of Plaintiff's claims and allow one claim to proceed for further development.


         Plaintiff is a convicted inmate at the Hardin County Detention Center (HCDC). Plaintiff sues HCDC personnel Mike Gunter and Robert Reynolds in their individual and official capacities.

         Plaintiff asserts that on March 13, 2018, Defendant Gunter entered his pod “almost immediately after dealing with an altercation that involved physical contact.” According to the complaint, Defendant Gunter “stormed into pod disgruntled, mad, and many more aggravating feelings.” Plaintiff states that he advised Defendant Gunter that another inmate was lying. He maintains that Defendant Gunter responded by telling him to “Shut up.” Plaintiff states that Defendant Gunter had told the other inmate to “roll” his belongings up and said to Plaintiff, “‘Matter of fact' roll your things up too. Your going to the hole.” Plaintiff asserts that he went to his bunk area and began to roll up his things. Plaintiff states, “As I turn around Deputy Mike Gunter has his taser pulled out pointed at me and tells me to get on the ground, I follow order and as I'm going down Deputy Mike Gunter deploys his taser into my back. Tasing me calling for back up.” Plaintiff continues, “Next thing I k[no]w, Operations officer at the time is helping lift me up off ground. I asked her why he did that and she did not answer. I was taken to medical to have prongs pulled out and then thrown in the drunk tank and then to hole.”

         Plaintiff maintains, “It is my understanding that a person, an inmate must be in a threatening manner to deploy taser. I was pretty much on ground when deputy Gunter tased me in my back. Camera footage and also numerous inmates would testify to the wrong doing.” He states that another deputy reviewed the video footage and “stated I was on the ground pretty much when he tased me in the back.” Plaintiff asserts that he discussed this with Defendant Reynolds who “just brushed if off and told me I was in wrong. Lied to me saying there was three deputies in pod when in fact there was just Deputy Gunter.”

         Plaintiff states that there are a “few deputies” at HCDC “that walk around quick to pull out there tasers to threaten inmates when its absolutely uncalled for. Unnecessary when many times it is just an inmate trying to talk but due to the deputies being perhaps unstable, unprofessional, it is wrong.” Plaintiff also lists the names of five people whom he identifies as witnesses.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

         II. STANDARD

         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 complaint, or any portion of it, if the court determines that the complaint 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). 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 the plaintiff and accept all of the factual allegations as true. Prater v. City of Burnside, Ky., 289 F.3d 417, 424 (6th Cir. 2002).

         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 claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[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)). “But the district court need not accept a ‘bare assertion of legal conclusions.'” Tackett, 561 F.3d at 488 (quoting Columbia Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995)).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Official-capacity claims

         Plaintiff sues Defendants in both their official and individual capacities. “Official-capacity suits . . . ‘generally represent [] another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent.'” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985) (quoting Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 n.55 (1978)). Suing employees in their official capacities is the equivalent of suing their employer. Lambert v. Hartman, 517 F.3d 433, 439-40 (6th Cir. 2008); Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994); Smallwood v. Jefferson Cty. Gov't, 743 F.Supp. ...

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