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Gregory v. Coomes

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky

August 15, 2019



          Joseph H. McKinley Jr., Senior Judge

         This is a pro se prisoner civil-rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On July 8, 2019, the Court entered a Memorandum Opinion and Order in which it conducted an initial screening of Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (DN 6). The Court construed the complaint as asserting claims against Defendant McLean County Sheriff Fred Coomes for unconstitutional search and seizure, excessive force, and unlawful arrest, based on an incident that occurred on May 7, 2019. In that Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's official-capacity claims against Defendant Coomes and his claims for injunctive relief for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Court then stated that before it could review Plaintiff's individual-capacity claims against Defendant Coomes pursuant to § 1915A, it needed more information regarding the status of the criminal charges against him.

         On July 24, 2019, Plaintiff initiated a separate § 1983 action which contained additional allegations concerning the night of May 7, 2019. See Gregory v. Coomes, No. 4:19-cv-P89-JHM. On August 8, 2019, the Court entered an Order consolidating that action with the instant action, and the complaint from that action was docketed as an amended complaint in this action (DN 10). The Court will now conduct a screening of the amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons set forth below, the new claims set forth in the amended complaint will be dismissed.


         In his amended complaint (DN 10), Plaintiff indicates that he is suing Defendant Coomes in both is his official and individual capacities as well as the McLean County Sheriff's Office (MCSO).

         Plaintiff first alleges that following his arrest on May 7, 2019, he was left in the MCSO “transport” van with other individuals “with all doors closed, all windows rolled up, the fan turned to highest setting and the heat turned to full blast for a period of an hour -/ 15 minutes as the van was left running.” He continues: “It was a very hot and humid night. We were all suffering very badly, sweating profusely, and I almost fainted from heat exhaustion because of this.”

         Plaintiff next alleges that he was a victim of sexual assault on this same night when he witnessed Defendant Coomes “put his bare hand in side of Natasha Sallee's shirt and bra feeling her bare breast as she protested.”

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well injunctive relief.


         Because 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 (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. 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, 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 § 1983 claim will not lie.Christy v. Randlett, 932 F.2d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 1991).

         A. Heated ...

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