United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HORN BOOM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
Ryan Webb was recently a prisoner at several different
detention centers in Kentucky, including but not limited to
the Harlan County Detention Center (HCDC). Proceeding without
a lawyer, Webb filed a civil rights complaint with the United
States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.
[R. 1]. That court conducted an initial review of Webb's
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, permitted some
of his claims to proceed, dismissed some of his other claims,
and severed his remaining claims-regarding his incarceration
at the HCDC-from the initial action. [R. 3]. The Western
District then opened a new civil action to house those
remaining HCDC-related claims and transferred that action to
this Court because Harlan County, Kentucky is in this
judicial district. [Id. at 15-16].
claims regarding the conditions of his confinement at the
HCDC are now before this Court on initial screening pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). For the reasons set forth
below, the Court will dismiss most of Webb's claims, but
it will allow two of his Eighth Amendment deliberate
indifference claims to proceed.
factual allegations are very hard to follow. That is because
his 11-page complaint [R. 1] is accompanied by a 37-page
submission that contains numerous overlapping factual
allegations and many superfluous details. [See R.
1-1]. Webb also often fails to clearly explain what each
named defendant did or failed to do to cause him harm.
[See id.]. That said, Webb is afforded latitude as a
pro se litigant, and, as a result, the Court has
tried to identify those factual allegations that relate to
the conditions of his confinement at the HCDC.
alleges that he was first transferred to the HCDC in early
December 2017 and, shortly thereafter, “started on the
HCDC inmate work program.” [R. 1-1 at 15]. Webb alleges
that, as part of this program, he and his fellow inmates were
required to use weed eaters without the manufacturer's
safety guards because those guards “were all purposely
removed by HCDC.” [Id.]. As a result, Webb
alleges that “every day I weedeated, it caused little
whelps and/or sores on my face and/or neck.”
then alleges that he “was told that if I complained
I'd go to ‘the hole,' or isolation.”
[Id.]. Still, Webb says he complained to his
immediate supervisor, “Deputy Ken, ” who told him
that he could either “keep working or quit.”
[Id.]. Webb claims that when he asked what would
happen if he quit, Deputy Ken told him that he would
“go to the hole.” [Id.]. Webb then
alleges that he wrote grievances to the Department of
Corrections and verbally complained “to a D.O.C.
representative that visited me in iceolation [sic], ”
suggesting that Webb was, in fact, placed in isolation at
some point. [Id.]. Webb also says, “I believe
I was kept in cell P-3 for longer due to my verbal grievance
to the D.O.C. rep who did nothing” [Id.], and
he later suggests that cell P-3 is part of the detention
center's isolation unit. [R. 1-1 at 19].
also separately complains that prison officials improperly
placed him in medical isolation for a 22-day period.
[See R. 1-1 at 19-20]. Webb acknowledges that he
“wrote an electronic grievance that included a request
to see someone for mental health.” [R. 1-1 at 19].
Webb, however, suggests that prison officials erroneously
claimed that he had written that he was
“unstable” and then cited that statement as the
reason why he was placed in medical isolation. [See
Id. at 19-20]. Webb implies that this was a pretext,
saying, “I 100% believe the HCDC Officials used this to
lock me down over grievances I wrote.” [Id. at
19]. Ultimately, Webb appears to be referencing his
grievances regarding the inmate work program and his
“not receiving legal copies.” [See id.].
addition to Webb's allegations regarding his time in
isolation, he claims more generally that the detention center
was not “legal friendly.” [R. 1-1 at 17]. Webb
suggests he was working on his “McCracken Criminal Case
and Complaint to the Kentucky Bar Association” and
complains that the HCDC did not have a law library.
[Id.]. Webb also alleges that prison officials would
not let him retrieve unspecified legal documents from his
“stored jail property” and refused to provide him
with copies, a notary service, stamps, and large manila
envelopes. [Id.]. Webb claims that he tried to file
a document with the Kentucky Court of Appeals but that it was
returned to him because the envelope did not have enough
postage. [Id.]. Webb also says, “I was denied
a Criminal Attorney and with no law library and information,
my [Kentucky Court of Appeals] Motion was returned where I
mailed it to the wrong place.” [Id.].
also complains about the general conditions at the HCDC.
[See R. 1-1 at 20-24]. Among other things, Webb
alleges that he was only permitted 50 minutes of outside
exercise during his time in isolation, “was offered a
shower at least 4 days per week where the water wasn't
hot and . .. was allowed 10-25 minutes max, ” and was
given “a cordless phone that wouldn't work.”
[Id. at 20, 21, 24]. Webb also alleges that a
specific prison official-Deputy Jailer Justin Howard-stole
his “bottom thermals, then my top thermal, [and] my
shampoo, all on different occasions while in D block.”
[Id. at 34].
Webb alleges that, in February 2018, he “verbally
requested both a sick call and dental request, ” told a
nurse that he had “an infection in my head that's
possibly from my chipped/broken tooth, ” and requested
antibiotics. [R. 1-1 at 35]. Webb, however, claims that
Nurses Tammy Halcomb and Jeff Osborne both denied him
treatment, telling him that he could “have [his] family
make arrangements with the local dentist and that the jail
would then take [him] once the appointment was made.”
[Id. at 35-36].
addition to setting forth the foregoing factual allegations,
Webb names multiple defendants in his complaint, including
Harlan County, HCDC Jailer Burkhart, Chief Deputy Jailer
Derrick Moore, Deputy Jailer Whitman, Deputy Jailer Justin
Howard, Deputy Jailer Blake, Captain Dan Howard, Southern
Health Partners (a medical contractor at the HCDC), Nurse
Halcomb, and Nurse Osborne. Webb then suggests that these
defendants ran afoul of numerous constitutional provisions,
including but not limited to the First, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendments. Ultimately, Webb asks the Court to
grant him several different forms of relief, including
declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and money damages.
complaint is now before the Court on initial screening
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
initial matter, Webb's complaint is very difficult to
follow and does not comply in any meaningful way with the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Indeed, Webb's
complaint runs afoul of Rule 8 because it does not contain
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
[he] is entitled to relief” and fails to include
allegations that “are simple, concise, and
direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), (d)(1). Instead,
Webb's submissions include numerous hard-to-follow pages
that contain overlapping factual allegations and repetitive
claims for relief. [See R. 1-1 at 1-37]. To be sure,
Webb does number each of his claims, but many of those claims
are either difficult to understand or simply repetitive.
[See id.]. Plus, while Webb begins each claim by
referring to one or more of the named defendants, he does not
consistently tie his factual allegations to those defendants.
[See id.]. In other words, Webb often does not
clearly explain what each named defendant did or failed to do
to cause him harm and, as a result, his legal claims are hard
to track. Still, since Webb is a pro se litigant, he
is afforded latitude and, therefore, the Court has attempted
to identify and screen those legal claims that it can follow.
Eighth Amendment Claims Related to the HCDC Work Program
first appears to be asserting an Eighth Amendment claim
against Harlan County based on the detention center's
alleged policy of removing the manufacturer's safety
guards from the weed eaters used in the inmate work program.
However, even assuming this could state an Eighth Amendment
claim, Webb is not entitled to the relief he is seeking
against Harlan County. That is because Webb is only pursuing
injunctive relief against the county, not money damages. In
fact, Webb specifically says, “I'm requesting an
injunction requesting Harlan County to no longer allow Harlan
CDC to force Inmates who are in danger to be forced to stay
in the same housing or work area where the danger is present
as HCDC believes it's ok to do so.” [R. 1 at 7].
Webb then indicates that he is not seeking money damages
against Harlan County, saying, albeit in a somewhat muddled
way, that he is pursuing “NO financial request for the
actual counties.” [Id. at 9]. Since Webb is no
longer confined at the HCDC, his claim for injunctive relief
against Harlan County is moot. See, e.g., Colvin v.
Caruso, 605 F.3d 282, 289 (6th Cir. 2010); Kensu v.
Haigh, 87 F.3d 172, 175 (6th Cir. 1996). Thus, the Court
will dismiss that claim.
also suggests that this Eighth Amendment claim “refers
to . . . B.J. Burkhart, Dan Howard, and Derrick Moore of
Harlan CDC.” [R. 1-1 at 15]. But Webb does not actually
link his factual allegations regarding the weed eaters to any
of these defendants and, thus, it is not clear what these
specific defendants did or failed to do to cause him harm.
Therefore, as currently pled, Webb's ...