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Senay v. Graham

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

June 28, 2019




         This is a pro se civil rights action brought by a prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff Richard W. Senay leave to proceed in forma pauperis. This matter is before the Court for screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss some claims but allow others to proceed.


         Plaintiff was formerly incarcerated as a pretrial detainee at the Hopkins County Detention Center (HCDC).[1] Plaintiff names the following HCDC officials as Defendants in this action - Supervising Deputies Graham and Lampton and Deputies Griffith, Helton, and Bowers. He sues Defendants in both their official and individual capacities.

         Plaintiff first alleges that on December 18, 2018, he was released from his disciplinary cell for one hour of recreation. Plaintiff states that it “is not uncommon for inmates to stay out past their hour 5 to 15 mins due to officers being busy or just common courtesy to let inmate finish up.” Plaintiff states he began taking a shower four minutes before his hour was scheduled to be over. He then states that at 10:51 a.m. he was advised “that his hour was up and to get out of the shower.” He states that he then advised Defendant Helton that “he was finishing up.” Plaintiff states that his hour of recreation was officially over at 10:52 a.m. He then states that at 10:54 a.m. Defendants Helton, Griffith, and Bowers entered the segregation unit and cut off the water to the shower. Plaintiff states that he was covered in soap at this time and cut his finger on the shower button while trying to turn the shower back on. Plaintiff states that he was then ordered to get out of the shower. He states that he “covered his groin area” before stepping out into the unit with “5 male inmates looking on, 2 female officers, and (1) male officer.” He states that he was exposed to all of them naked. Plaintiff alleges that he made his way to his cell “with thick layers of soap all over his body” and that he did not use the cold water in his cell to rinse off because “he was fearful of getting sick.” Plaintiff alleges that he then requested to speak to the shift commander “due to soap being left on his body and because his finger was bleeding” but that this request was denied. Plaintiff states that he then hit the red emergency button in his cell because he did not know how severe the cut on his finger was but that he was ignored. Plaintiff states that the soap eventually began to burn his skin so he had no choice but to fill a cup with cold water and attempt to wash his body. He writes, “after hours and hours, no shift commander responded and no medical treatment was given.” Plaintiff writes that on the following day other inmates in the segregation unit began making rude comments like “look at that ass” and “cat-calling” and whistling and laughing about the incident. He also states that later that day a female deputy informed Plaintiff that she had viewed the video. According to Plaintiff, he asked the deputy why “2nd shift” deputies were allowed to view the video of him naked.

         Plaintiff states that he filed a grievance and a “PREA” on Defendants Griffith, Helton, and Bowers regarding this incident but that his grievance was denied.

         Plaintiff then alleges that on December 24, 2018, while he was using a pair of clippers, the clippers began smoking. He states that he asked Defendant Helton for another pair of clippers. Several minutes later Defendants Graham, Helton, and Griffith came into his cell and told him was being placed in segregation for breaking the clippers. Plaintiff states that he spent two days in segregation - Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. He states that when he was released from segregation, Defendant Graham told him that he did not know if Plaintiff broke the clippers and then stated “You spent your Christmas in here so I'm good with that.” Plaintiff states that he believes he was placed in segregation for two days in retaliation for filing grievance(s) related to the shower incident.

         Finally, Plaintiff alleges that on January 4, 2019, officers called Plaintiff over the intercom in his cell to advise him to get ready for a visitor. He states that Defendant Lampton entered his cell no more than 45 seconds later while Plaintiff was in the process of brushing his teeth and putting on his jumpsuit. Defendant Lampton then told Plaintiff he had “30 secs or his visit would be terminated.” Plaintiff states that he then “became angry and started using vulgar language at being rushed” and that Defendant Lampton then advised Plaintiff that if he heard another curse word he would not receive his visit. When Plaintiff then stated that the treatment he was receiving was “bullshit, ” Defendant Lampton slammed the door in Plaintiff's face and cancelled his visit. Plaintiff states that he also believes this visit was cancelled in retaliation for filing the aforementioned grievance(s).

         Plaintiff claims that Defendant Graham engaged in the “deficient management of subordinates” by knowingly disregarding this treatment of Plaintiff. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Graham filed to train, supervise, or discipline his officers for their allegedly unconstitutional treatment of him. Finally, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Graham retaliated against him for filing the aforementioned grievance(s) when he had Plaintiff placed him in segregation for two days for allegedly breaking a pair of clippers.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief in the form of release to probation or transfer to another facility.[2]


         Because Plaintiff filed this action as a prisoner seeking relief against governmental entities, officers, and/or employees, this Court must review the instant action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under § 1915A, the trial court must review the complaint and dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, 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 § 1915A(b)(1), (2); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 544 U.S. 199 (2007). 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] 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)). “[A] pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). However, while liberal, this standard of review does require more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions. See Columbia Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995). The Court's duty “does not require [it] to conjure up unpled allegations, ” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979), or to create a claim for a plaintiff. Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975). To command otherwise would require the Court “to explore exhaustively all potential claims of a pro se plaintiff, [and] would also transform the district court from its legitimate advisory role to the improper role of an advocate seeking out the strongest arguments and most successful strategies for a party.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

         III. ...

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