United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. Hood Senior U.S. District Judge
Major is a pretrial detainee at the Fayette County Detention
Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Proceeding without an
attorney, Major filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. [R. 1]. That complaint is now before the
Court on initial screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1915A and 1915(e)(2), and, for the reasons set forth below,
the Court will dismiss Major's claims.
Major's complaint, he briefly describes recent
interactions he had with four prison officials: Corporal
Cooper, Officer Smith, Officer Chandler, and Captain Jones.
Major then indicates that he is suing each defendant in both
their individual and official capacities and says he is
seeking $10 million in damages. However, Major does not
identify the constitutional rights he alleges were violated.
Ultimately, while the Court has tried to characterize each of
Major's claims, it is clear that he has failed to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted.
first sues Corporal Cooper and Officer Smith. Major alleges
that, on April 21, 2019, Corporal Cooper was conducting third
shift cell checks, came into Major's cell, and pulled a
towel off Major's face. [R. 1 at 4]. Major then alleges
that he put the towel back on his face and, in response,
Corporal Cooper said, “I will knock you the f---
out.” [Id.]. However, Major does not allege
that Corporal Cooper actually used any force against him.
later alleges that, on April 28, 2019, “Officer Smith
and I started . . . hollering back and forth.”
[Id.]. Major then claims that “Officer Smith
was trying to get into my cell and fight me but the Officer
in the tower wouldn't open my cell door.”
[Id.]. Major does not allege that Officer Smith used
any force against him. [See id.].
Major does not identify the constitutional rights he alleges
were violated, the Court will construe his complaint as
asserting excessive force claims against Corporal Cooper and
Officer Smith pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment. See
Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466 (2015)
(discussing excessive force claims brought by pretrial
detainees against prison officials).
said, Major has failed to state such claims for relief. After
all, to state an excessive force claim under the Fourteenth
Amendment, a pretrial detainee must allege that an officer
used force against him and that the officer's conduct was
objectively unreasonable. See Id. at 2472. Here,
Major does not allege that either Corporal Cooper or Officer
Smith actually used force against him. Instead, at most,
Major alleges that Corporal Cooper and Officer Smith cursed,
hollered, and verbally threatened him, and the United States
Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has made it clear that
such conduct is simply “insufficient to support a
section 1983 claim for relief.” Wingo v. Tenn.
Dep't of Corr., 499 Fed.Appx. 453, 455 (6th Cir.
2012) (citing Ivey v. Wilson, 832 F.2d 950, 955 (6th
Cir. 1987)). Thus, the Court will dismiss Major's claims
against Corporal Cooper and Officer Smith.
then sues Officer Chandler. Major alleges the following:
On May 8, 2019, Officer Chandler took a 1983 civil suit from
me which I had written down my feelings. I didn't want to
give them to him but he threatened to write me up. He said he
would give me a copy but I never heard about it again. I
asked for a civil suit on 5/8/19, 5/17/19, 5/18/19, and
5/21/19, and Officer Chandler refused to give me one every
at 5]. Major then adds that he asked for paper, but Officer
Chandler refused to bring him some. That said, Major later
states that Officer Chandler did bring him paper on May 21,
does not say which of his constitutional rights Officer
Chandler allegedly violated. However, since Major suggests
that he was trying to pursue a § 1983 civil rights case
and Officer Chandler interfered with that process, the Court
will construe Major's complaint as asserting a First
Amendment denial of access to the courts claim. However, to
state such a claim, a plaintiff must show actual injury to a
nonfrivolous legal claim.” Williams v. Wright,
No. 2:19-cv-040-WOB, 2019 WL 2236257, at *3 (E.D. Ky. May 23,
2019) (citing Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 353-55
(1996)). “Examples of actual prejudice to pending or
contemplated litigation include having a case dismissed,
being unable to file a complaint, and missing a court-imposed
deadline.” Harbin-Bey v. Rutter, 420 F.3d 571,
578 (6th Cir. 2005).
while Major makes a passing reference to the fact that he
“had Court on May 23, 2019” [R. 1 at 5], he does
not identify any harm he suffered as a result of Officer
Chandler's alleged conduct. Indeed, Major fails to
clearly refer to any particular case, whether already pending
or anticipated to be filed. Major also fails to describe the
nature of the § 1983 claim he was allegedly pursuing in
early May 2019, and, instead, simply says he “had
written down [his] feelings.” [Id.]. Given
these facts, as well as the fact that Officer Chandler
provided paper to Major and that Major was actually able to
file this civil rights case, the Court will dismiss
Major's claim against Officer Chandler.
then sues Captain Jones, but his only allegation appears to
be that Captain Jones never responded to a written grievance
regarding Major's “IBP status.” [See
id.]. Since the Sixth Circuit has made it clear that
“the denial of a grievance or the failure to act upon
the filing of a grievance is insufficient to establish
liability under § 1983, ” Johnson v.
Aramark, 482 Fed.Appx. 992, 993 (6th Cir. 2012), the
Court will dismiss Major's claim against Captain Jones.
Major indicated that he is also suing each of the named
defendants in their official capacities. [R. 1 at 2]. This
means Major is also asserting his claims against Fayette
County. See Lambert v. Hartman, 517 F.3d 433, 439-40
(6th Cir. 2008); Alkire v. Irving, 330 F.3d 802, 810
(6th Cir. 2003). However, Fayette County is not liable merely
because it employs the named defendants; in fact, the county
cannot be held responsible for alleged constitutional
deprivations unless there is a direct causal link ...