United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. Wllhiot, Jr. United States District Judge.
Burns is a state inmate confined at the Roederer Correctional
Complex. Proceeding without an attorney, Burns recently filed
a complaint on the Court's provided civil rights
complaint form for 42 U.S.C. § 1983 actions. [R. 2.] The
Court previously granted Burns's motion to proceed in
forma pauperis and now conducts an initial screening of
the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
See Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir.
2010). Upon this preliminary screening, Burns's complaint
will be dismissed.
complaint, Burns explains that in August 2016, he was sent to
work at the cattle farm affiliated with the Blackburn
Correctional Complex. While working, a cow
"bucked/kicked" him and caused him to lose
consciousness. [R. 1 at 4.] Burns was taken to the University
of Kentucky hospital where he received emergency surgery
because of broken ribs from a ruptured spleen and internal
bleeding. The complaint states that "Inmate Burns to
this date from the time of the incident is still and will be
in constant pain for the remainder of his life."
[Id. at 5.] The complaint seeks twenty million
dollars in total damages and identifies Jonathan Grate, the
Acting Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of
Corrections, as the sole defendant. [Id. at 2, 6.]
several reasons, Burns's complaint fails to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted, making dismissal on
screening appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
First, although Burns used the provided form for a 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 civil rights action, the complaint fails to
actually allege a violation of Burns's civil rights. In
fact, the complaint fails to identify any constitutional
right, federal law, or state law that would form the basis
for a federal lawsuit. Perhaps Burns would have the Court
imply a constitutional violation as a result of his injuries,
but even if the Court were to do so and find an implied
Eighth Amendment allegation, the facts suggest that Burns
received full and appropriate medical care following the
incident. That Burns has ongoing pain from his recovery does
not suffice to state an Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate
indifference to his medical needs. In any event, although the
Court does afford additional latitude to pro se
parties, there are limits to the leniency it can provide.
See, e.g., Brown v. Matauszak, 415
F.App'x 608, 613 (6th Cir. 2011) ("[A] court cannot
create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his
pleading."). Burns simply cannot proceed with a §
1983 case where he identifies no constitutional right or
federal law forming the basis of the lawsuit.
to the extent Burns hoped to bring a claim for tort damages
under Kentucky state law alone, that claim would not be
appropriately before the undersigned. In the absence of any
basis for federal jurisdiction-i.e., the absence of an
alleged constitutional violation by any person acting under
color of state law- the Court will not evaluate a possible
claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, or
any other tort, under Kentucky state law. See, e.g.,
United Mine Workers of America v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715,
the incident Burns complains of also predates the filing of
the complaint by more than three years. [R. 1 at 4 (alleging
Burns sustained his injuries in August 2016).] The statute of
limitations for § 1983 claims in Kentucky is one year.
See KRS 413.140(1)(a); Collard v. Ky. Bd. of
Nursing, 896 F.2d 179, 182 (6th Cir. 1990). While an
expired statute of limitations is ordinarily an affirmative
defense, a claim that is plainly barred by the applicable
statute of limitations can still be dismissed for failure to
state a claim. See, e.g., Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S.
199, 216 (2007). Here, Burns provides no explanation as to
why he is filing his claim now, as opposed to three years
ago, and the Court seriously doubts the timeliness of any
allegation he wished to bring.
it is not at all clear that the sole named defendant, Acting
Kentucky Department of Corrections Commissioner Jonathan
Grate, is liable for anything related to Burns's
complaint. Burns names Acting Commissioner Grate in both his
official and individual capacities. But Burns never suggests
that Grate was personally involved with his injury or
subsequent treatment such to make Grate somehow individually
liable. [See R. 1 at 4-5.] And naming Grate in his
official capacity is, in effect, a claim directly against the
state agency which employs him- in this case, the Kentucky
Department of Corrections. Lambert v. Hartman, 517
F.3d 433, 439-40 (6th Cir. 2008); Alkire v. Irving,
330 F.3d 802, 810 (6th Cir. 2003) (explaining that
individuals sued in their official capacities "stand in
the shoes of the entity they represent"). The Kentucky
Department of Corrections, an agency of the state of
Kentucky, enjoys sovereign immunity in this § 1983
federal court action because immunity has not been expressly
waived. See, e.g., Walker v. Dep't of Corr., 238
F.3d 426 (Table), 2000 WL 1828876 (6th Cir. Dec. 6, 2000).
of these reasons, Burns's complaint fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted. Dismissal is
therefore appropriate on screening, see 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2), and the Court hereby
ORDERS as follows:
1. Plaintiff Burns's complaint [R. 1] is
2. This action is CLOSED and
STRICKEN from the Court's active ...