United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. McKinley Jr., Senior Judge.
Tevin Lattrell Woodruff filed a pro se, in forma
pauperis 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint (DN 1) and
amended complaint (DN 7). 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
is a convicted inmate housed at the Henderson County
Detention Center (HCDC). As Defendants, Plaintiff names Nurse
Lindsey Ridings, Supervising Nurse at HCDC, in her official
capacity and Southern Health Partners (SHP), identified in
the complaint as the medical provider at HCDC.
alleges that he has a medical condition causing progressive
vision loss in both eyes that requires “treatment
(injections), (medication) (Avactin)” to stabilize his
eyesight. He states that he is treated by a specialist at the
Physician's Eye Care Center located in Owensboro,
Kentucky. He states that in December 2018, when he was taken
to the Physician's Eye Care Center for his 4-6 week
check-up/treatment, he was told by the physician that HCDC
medical staff “neglected to make sure [his] insurance
was updated and [he] was told that the last two appointments
before this one had not been paid for by Southern Partner
Insurance.” Plaintiff states that he also was told that
he would not be able to receive any more treatment with his
original medication, Avastin, due to lack of payment and
instead was given a free sample of the drug Eyelea by
injection. Plaintiff states that he had a very bad reaction
to the new medicine, with blistering, burning, and burst
blood vessels in his eye for three to four weeks. As relief,
Plaintiff requests monetary and punitive damages.
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)). 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
Nurse Ridings as brought against her employer, Southern
on the complaint, the Court presumes that Southern Health
Partners is a private entity which contracts with HCDC to
provide medical care to inmates. The Sixth Circuit has held
that the analysis that applies to a § 1983 claim against
a municipality applies to a § 1983 claim against a
private corporation such as Southern Health Partners. See
Street v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 818 (6th
Cir. 1996) (“Monell involved a municipal
corporation, but every circuit to consider the issue has
extended the holding to private corporations as
well.”). “[A] municipality cannot be held liable
solely because it employs a tortfeasor -- or, in other words,
a municipality cannot be held liable under § 1983 on a
respondeat superior theory.” Monell,
436 U.S. at 691. 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. Id. Thus,
liability of a contracted private entity must be based on a
policy or custom of the entity. Street v. Corr. Corp. of
Am., 102 F.3d at 818; see also Starcher v. Corr.
Med. Sys., Inc., 7 Fed.Appx. 459, 465 (6th Cir. 2001)
(“CMS's [Correctional Medical Systems, Inc., ]
liability must also be premised on some policy that caused a
deprivation of [plaintiff's] Eighth Amendment
the Court finds that Plaintiff alleges a deprivation of his
Eighth Amendment right to be free from deliberate
indifference to a serious medical need. See, e.g.,
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-04 (1976)
(holding that an Eighth Amendment violation occurs when
prison officials act with deliberate indifference to a
prisoner's serious medical need).
to state such a claim against SHP, Plaintiff must
“‘identify the policy, connect the policy to the
[entity] itself and show that the particular injury was
incurred because of the execution of that policy.'”
Garner v. Memphis Police Dep't, 8 F.3d 358, 364
(6th Cir. 1993) (quoting Coogan v. City of Wixom,
820 F.2d 170, 176 (6th Cir. 1987), overruled on other
grounds by Frantz v. Vill. of Bradford, 245 F.3d 869
(6th Cir. 2001)). The policy or custom “must be
‘the moving force of the constitutional violation'
in order to establish the liability” of the entity
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)).
reading the complaint and amended complaint liberally, the
Court finds that Plaintiff alleges that, due to a SHP policy
or custom, Plaintiff's eye doctor bills were not paid
resulting in Plaintiff being given a free sample of a drug
which caused a bad reaction, as well as not being seen by the
eye doctor since December 2018.
Court will allow Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim to
continue against SHP. Because suing Nurse Lindsey in her
official capacity is redundant to the continuing claim
against SHP, she will be dismissed from this action.