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Boyer v. Daviess County Detention Center

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

October 16, 2019



          Joseph H. McKinley Jr., Senior Judge United States District Court

         Plaintiff Keith Jim Boyer, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, initiated this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action. 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). For the following reasons, the complaint will be dismissed in part and allowed to continue in part.


         Plaintiff, a pretrial detainee at the Daviess County Detention Center (DCDC), sues DCDC. His first claim is for denial of medication. He states that when he arrived at DCDC from a prison in Ohio he brought with him "critically needed medication[;] this medication must be taken daily due to life/death situation." He further states that he brought this medication "from out of town (already paid: by the Ohio state prison. This medication was denied to me. (I am being charged for medication under KY CARE)."

         Plaintiffs next claim pertains to overcrowded conditions at DCDC. He states that there are 47 men housed in an 18-man cell with only two toilets. He states that he sleeps on the floor and at night cannot get to the restroom without stepping on other inmates. He alleges that there should be '"boats'"[1] and sanitary living conditions. He further states that "[f]ood sits outside window on carts and served cold and not in timely manner on some occasions." He also states that most meals are eaten on the floor. As relief, he asks for monetary damages and injunctive relief in the form of being released by DCDC.

         Plaintiff filed a letter (DN 6) not long after he filed his complaint, which the Court interprets to be an amended complaint. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(1)(A) ("A party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within: ... 21 days after serving it[.]"). He asks to add allegations in "regard to PREA [Prison Rape Elimination Act] conditions that take place in the protective custody cell B184."

         The allegations in the amended complaint are that toilets are only 24 inches apart with no dividers and that to take a shower requires undressing in front of men using the toilet. He states that it violates his privacy and his constitutional rights to have to take a shower and use the restroom in a cell that houses sex offenders.

         Plaintiff further alleges:

At times, there are people exposing their genitals in the dorm area to other inmates and doing sex acts in bed areas and also the same activitys are taking place in the restroom area and also the shower area. This is an everyday activity that is taking place in B184 cell. It is mentally and physically making me emotionaly distressed due to the sexual misconduct and abuse that is taking place on a daily basis[.]

         II. ANALYSIS

         When a 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).

         A. Medication claim

         DCDC, the only named Defendant, is not an entity subject to suit under § 1983. Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994). Rather, the claims against it are against Daviess County as the real party in interest. Id. ("Since the Police Department is not an entity which may be sued, Jefferson County is the proper party to address the allegations of Matthews's complaint."); see also Smallwood v. Jefferson Cty. Gov't, 743 F.Supp. 502, 503 (W.D. Ky. 1990) (finding that suit against fiscal court is actually suit against county itself).

         When a § 1983 claim is made against a municipality, like Daviess County, a court must analyze two distinct issues: (1) whether the plaintiffs harm was caused by a constitutional violation; and (2) if so, whether the municipality is responsible for that violation. Collins v. City of Harker ...

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