United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
Plaintiff, pro se Defendants Hardin County Attorney
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. Hale, Judge United States District Court
John Patrick Wolverton filed a pro se, in forma
pauperis 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint (DN 1). 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).
STATEMENT OF CLAIMS
time Plaintiff filed his complaint, he was incarcerated in
the Marshall County Jail. He has since notified the Court of
his release from prison. As Defendants, Plaintiff names the
Hardin Memorial Hospital, the Hardin County Sheriff's
Department, and Dr. Ross Walton, a Hardin Memorial Hospital
doctor, in his official capacity. The complaint states,
“I was asked to give urine sample and I told them I
could not pee. I asked for water and they told me no at which
time they handcuffed me to a bed and forced a catheter in
me.” Plaintiff states further, “No physical
injuries sustained. However emotionally I was and the fact I
did not give consent for them to forcefully collect my urine
is a violation of my civil rights.”
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 of the 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).
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, 165 (1985) (quoting Monell v. New York City
Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 n.55
(1978)). Thus, suing employees in their official capacities
is the equivalent of suing their employer. Lambert v.
Hartman, 517 F.3d 433, 439-40 (6th Cir. 2008);
Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir.
1994); Smallwood v. Jefferson Cty. Gov't, 743
F.Supp. 502, 503 (W.D. Ky. 1990). Therefore, the Court
construes Plaintiff's official-capacity claim against Dr.
Walton as brought against his employer, the Hardin Memorial
the Hardin Memorial Hospital nor the Hardin County
Sheriff's Department is an entity capable of being sued
under § 1983. Under § 1983, “person”
includes individuals and “bodies politic and
corporate.” Monell, 436 U.S. at 689-90 &
n.55; Hix v. Tenn. Dep't. of Corr., 196
Fed.Appx. 350, 355 (6th Cir. 2006) (“A prison's
medical department is not an entity with a corporate or
political existence[.]”); Mumford v. Basinski,
105 F.3d 264, 267 (6th Cir. 1997); Rhodes v.
McDannel, 945 F.2d 117, 120 (6th Cir. 1991) (per curiam)
(holding that a police department may not be sued under
§ 1983); Garner v. Hamilton Cty. Sheriff's
Dep't, No. 1:14-CV-262-CLC-CHS, 2015 WL 4873075, at
*1 (E.D. Tenn. Aug. 13, 2015) (“[T]he Sixth Circuit and
courts in this district have previously held that a county
sheriff's department is not an entity subject to suit
under § 1983.” (and citing cases)). Instead,
Plaintiff's claims against these entities are against
Hardin County itself. Consequently, the Court interprets
Plaintiff's claim against Defendants as being brought
against Hardin County.
preliminary review, the Court will allow Plaintiff's suit
to proceed against Hardin County.
IS ORDERED that the claims against Hardin Memorial
Hospital, Hardin County Sheriff's Department, and Dr.
Ross Walton are DISMISSED for failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to
terminate Hardin Memorial Hospital, Hardin
County Sheriff's Department, and Dr. Ross Walton as
parties to this action.
Clerk of Court is FURTHER DIRECTED to
add Hardin County as Defendant in this case.
Court will enter a separate Order Directing Service and
Scheduling Order to govern the development of this case. In
allowing Plaintiffs claim to go forward, the ...