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Martinez v. Woosley

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

July 2, 2019



          Joseph H. McKinley Jr., Senior Judge

         Plaintiff Jonny Alexander Reyes Martinez, 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, this action will be dismissed in part and allowed to continue in part, and Plaintiff will be given an opportunity to amend his complaint.


         Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee at the Grayson County Detention Center (GCDC). He names as Defendant GCDC Jailer Jason Woosley in his individual and official capacities. He alleges that on March 15 his right shoulder was injured when the corrections officer driving the van in which he was riding “hit the brake” because he almost collided with another car, tossing Plaintiff to the front of the van. Plaintiff states that, once back at GCDC, he requested medicine for his pain from the medical unit. He states, “They put me on a pill to ease my pain.” He states that after a few days they “gave me a pill that harm me.” He explains that the morning after taking the new pill “my entire body started itching. The CO took me to medical and from there I was taking to the hospital. At the hospital, the doctor told me I was giv[en] a Tylenol and that the cause of my symptoms.” He further states that he was released from the hospital and taken back to GCDC but was rushed back to the hospital because his symptoms worsened. He states that, at the request of the doctor, he was transferred from that hospital to a hospital in Louisville. He states that he was told that on the way to the hospital he nearly suffered cardiac arrest and that he was in a coma for two hours. He further states that he remained in the hospital for six days.

         Plaintiff alleges that GCDC was aware that he is allergic to Tylenol “but yet gave me the pill because they didn't have what I was normally tak[ing].” As relief, Plaintiff requests monetary damages.

         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).

         Individual-capacity claim

         The complaint does not contain any allegations against Defendant Woosley, the GCDC Jailer.

         The doctrine of respondeat superior, or the right to control employees, does not apply in § 1983 actions to impute liability onto supervisors. Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978); Taylor v. Mich. Dep't of Corr., 69 F.3d 76, 80-81 (6th Cir. 1995). Additionally, “simple awareness of employees' misconduct does not lead to supervisor liability.” Leary v. Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888, 903 (6th Cir. 2003). “[P]roof of personal involvement is required for a supervisor to incur personal liability.” Grinter v. Knight, 532 F.3d 567, 575 (6th Cir. 2008). “[A] plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official's own individual actions, has violated the Constitution.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009); Shehee v. Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295, 300 (6th Cir. 1999) (stating that supervisory liability “must be based on active unconstitutional behavior and cannot be based upon ‘a mere failure to act'”) (quoting Salehpour v. Univ. of Tenn., 159 F.3d 199, 206 (6th Cir. 1998)).

         Thus, for a supervisor such as Defendant Woosley to be held liable under § 1983, Plaintiff must allege that Defendant Woosley was personally involved in the alleged unconstitutional conduct. Plaintiff does not do so, and, therefore, fails to state a claim against Defendant Woosley in his individual capacity.

         Official-capacity claim

         “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, 166 (1985) (quoting Monell, 436 U.S. at 691 n.55). Thus, the official-capacity claim against Defendant Woosley is in actuality brought against Grayson County.

         When a § 1983 claim is made against a municipality, in this case Grayson 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 ...

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