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Ward v. Kentucky State Police

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

August 2, 2019

TIMOTHY AUGUSTUS WARD Plaintiff
v.
KENTUCKY STATE POLICE, et al. Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          REBECCA GRADY JENNINGS, DISTRICT JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Plaintiff Timothy Augustus Ward initiated this pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil-rights action. Because some of Plaintiff's claims were related to an ongoing state-court criminal proceeding, in which Plaintiff had been charged with disorderly conduct, menacing, and resisting arrest, the Court entered an Order staying the action pending the resolution of the state-court case. See Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 393-94 (2007) (“If a plaintiff files . . . any . . . claim related to rulings that will likely be made in a pending or anticipated criminal trial[], it is within the power of the district court, and in accord with common practice, to stay the civil action until the criminal case or the likelihood of a criminal case is ended.”). Plaintiff has now filed a letter in which he indicates that his “criminal case is over.” Thus, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the STAY in this action is LIFTED. The Court will now screen Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff names the following as Defendants in this action - the Kentucky State Police (KSP); KSP Commissioner Richard W. Sanders; KSP Trooper Ken Borders, in both his official and individual capacities; the City of Elizabethtown; John Does 1-15; Jane Does 1-15; Hardin County Detention Center (HCDC); HCDC Jailer Danny Allen; and Hardin County Ambulance Services. Plaintiff does not indicate in what capacity he sues any Defendant other than Defendant Borders.

         Plaintiff alleges that on May 29, 2016, Defendant Borders pulled Plaintiff over for not allowing him to pass when he had his squad car lights on. Plaintiff informed Defendant Borders that this was an abuse of authority because he was not in route to an emergency and he could have used the passing lane to pass Plaintiff. Plaintiff states that Defendant Borders then wrote him a citation for not having insurance on the vehicle he was driving.

         Plaintiff alleges that, after the incident, he contacted the KSP to log a complaint against Defendant Borders. Defendant Borders' supervisor allegedly told Plaintiff to meet him at the KSP post in Hardin County. When Plaintiff arrived, Defendant Borders and non-Defendant KSP Trooper Brown came out to speak to Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that he told them he wanted to speak to their supervisor, but they refused. Plaintiff states that he and the troopers then began to argue. Plaintiff specifically states that as he began to leave, Trooper Brown continued to yell at him and said “I'll see you in ‘f-cking court' to which Plaintiff replied “you f-cking p-ssy.” Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Borders then informed Plaintiff that he was under arrest and told Plaintiff to put his hands behind his back. Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Borders then began tasing him. Plaintiff alleges that he told Defendant Borders that he had congestive heart failure and that he could not put his hands up while tased, but that Defendant Borders continued tasing him. Plaintiff states that Defendant Borders then put handcuffs on him, grabbed him by his hair, and sprayed “OC spray” in his eyes. Plaintiff states that Defendant Borders told Plaintiff he was arresting him for saying “you f-cking p-ssy.”

         Plaintiff next alleges that the KSP called Hardin County Ambulance Services to the scene. He states that the two emergency medical technicians (EMT's) who arrived took his vitals and told him that he had high blood pressure and high blood sugar.[1] According to Plaintiff, they told the KSP officers that he needed to go to the hospital. Plaintiff further alleges, however, that after the EMT's spoke with the KSP officers, the EMT's refused to transport Plaintiff to the hospital. Instead, Defendant Borders and Trooper Brown transported Plaintiff to HCDC, where they informed the nurse on duty that Plaintiff had elevated blood pressure and blood sugar. Plaintiff states that he was booked into HCDC at around 1:00 a.m. on May 30, 2016, and released around 11:00 a.m. on the same day. He states that the HCDC nurse checked his blood pressure and blood sugar twice during that time and that although his readings remained high, [2] the nurse refused his requests to be transported to the emergency room. Plaintiff states that this refusal put him at risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

         Finally, Plaintiff states that after he was released from HCDC, he went to the hospital where he was treated for several cuts on his hand and his arm and given pain medication.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must review this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). On review, a district court must dismiss a case at any time if it determines that the action 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         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)).

         Although courts are to hold pro se pleadings “to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972), this duty to be less stringent “does not require us 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 courts “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. ANALYSIS

         “Section 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 (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 ...


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