United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. MCKINLEY JR., SENIOR JUDGE
a pro se civil rights action brought by a pretrial
detainee pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has
granted Terry Lee Gregory 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 and provide
Plaintiff with an opportunity to provide additional
is a pretrial detainee incarcerated at the Daviess County
Detention Center. He brings this suit against McLean County
Sheriff Jeff Coomes in both his official and individual
Court construes the complaint as asserting claims against
Defendant Coomes for unconstitutional search and seizure,
excessive force, and unlawful arrest, among other things,
based on an incident that occurred on May 7, 2019. Plaintiff
does not explain what charges were brought against him or
what the disposition of those charges were. As relief,
Plaintiff asks for monetary and punitive damages. He also
seeks injunctive relief in the form of all charges being
dropped against him and Defendant Coomes being terminated
from his position and banned from obtaining other positions
in law enforcement.
Plaintiff is 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
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).
1983 creates no substantive rights but merely provides
remedies for deprivations of rights established elsewhere.
Flint ex rel. Flint v. Ky. Dep't of Corr., 270
F.3d 340, 351 (6th Cir. 2001). Two elements are required to
state a claim under § 1983. Gomez v. Toledo,
446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). “A plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of
the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation
was committed by a person acting under color of state
law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
“Absent either element, a section 1983 claim will not
lie.” Christy v. Randlett, 932 F.2d
502, 504 (6th Cir. 1991).
Court first turns to Plaintiff's official-capacity claim
against Defendant Coomes. “[O]fficial-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 v. New York City Dep't of
Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 n.55 (1978). Thus,
Plaintiff's official-capacity claim is actually against
Defendant Coomes' employer, which is McClean County.
See, e.g., Lambert v. Hartman, 517 F.3d
433, 440 (6th Cir. 2008) (stating that civil rights suit
against county clerk of courts in his official capacity was
equivalent of suing clerk's employer, the county).
§ 1983 claim is made against a municipality, this Court
must analyze two distinct issues: (1) whether 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, Tex.,
503 U.S. 115, 120 (1992). A municipality cannot be held
responsible for a constitutional deprivation unless there is
a direct causal link between a municipal policy or custom and
the alleged constitutional deprivation. Monell, 436
U.S. at 691; Deaton v. Montgomery Cty., Ohio, 989
F.2d 885, 889 (6th Cir. 1993). To demonstrate municipal
liability, a plaintiff “must (1) identify the municipal
policy or custom, (2) connect the policy to the municipality,
and (3) show that his particular injury was incurred due to
execution of that policy.” Alkire v. Irving,
330 F.3d 802, 815 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Garner v.
Memphis Police Dep't, 8 F.3d 358, 364 (6th Cir.
1993)). The policy or custom “must be ‘the moving
force of the constitutional violation' in order to
establish the liability of a government body under §
1983.” Searcy v. City of Dayton, 38 F.3d 282,
286 (6th Cir. 1994) (quoting Polk Cty. v. Dodson,
454 U.S. 312, 326 (1981) (citation omitted)).
instant case, the complaint indicates that Plaintiff's
injuries were caused by the individual actions of Defendants
Coomes during one isolated incident, rather than by a custom
or policy implemented or endorsed by McClean County. Thus,
the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's official-capacity