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Matthews v. LMPD

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

October 24, 2019

GARRICK MATTHEWS Plaintiff
v.
LMPD, et al. Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Rebecca Grady Jennings, District Judge.

         Plaintiff Garrick Matthews filed a pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint proceeding in forma pauperis. This matter is before the Court upon initial screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons that follow, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's claims but allow him to amend his complaint and order him to provide additional information concerning the state charges against him.

         I.

         Plaintiff, identifying himself as a pretrial detainee at the Oldham County Detention Center, sues the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) and the following LMPD officers: Detectives Beau Gadeguard and Curt Flynn and Sergeants Robert King and Kevin Casper. He sues Defendants in their official capacities only.

         Plaintiff states that on December 9, 2018, Defendants Gadeguard, Flynn, Casper, and King violated his constitutional rights by “pulling me out of a car that I was not operating and detaining me for no reason.” He states, “Detective Casper stated that I was nervous and stuttering while talking to him. So he demanded me to get out of the car. And handcuffed me. [] The detectives searched the car without permission and found a weapon that the passenger said was hers.” He states that Defendant Gadeguard “was trying to get her to say that the weapon was mine.” Plaintiff further asserts that Defendant King “was making false accusations against me which violated my due process. So did Detective Gadeguard.” Plaintiff maintains that Defendant Gadeguard also searched the passenger's purse “and found drug paraphernalia and charged me with it.”

         Plaintiff states that his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated by all of the Defendant officers. He asserts, “There is more of my rights violated in this incident but I'm lame to the law.” He also states, “The LMPD has since changed its policy.”

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Where the form asks the filer to state any other relief sought, Plaintiff writes “incarcerated.”

         II.

         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 complaint, or any portion of it, if the court determines that the complaint 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 § 1915A(b)(1), (2); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007).

         In order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “[A] district court must (1) view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and (2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)). “But the district court need not accept a ‘bare assertion of legal conclusions.'” Tackett, 561 F.3d at 488 (quoting Columbia Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995)). Although this Court recognizes that pro se pleadings are to be held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991), “[o]ur duty to be ‘less stringent' with pro se complaints does not require us to conjure up unpled allegations.” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation omitted).

         III.

         Plaintiff sues Defendants LMPD and the Defendant officers in their official capacities only. LMPD is not a “person” subject to suit under § 1983 because municipal departments, such as police departments, are not suable under § 1983. Rhodes v. McDannel, 945 F.2d 117, 120 (6th Cir. 1991) (holding that a police department may not be sued under § 1983); see also Marbry v. Corr. Med. Servs., No. 99-6706, 2000 U.S. App. LEXIS 28072, at *2 (6th Cir. Nov. 6, 2000) (holding that a jail is not an entity subject to suit under § 1983). In this situation, Louisville Metro Government is the proper defendant. Smallwood v. Jefferson Cty. Gov't, 743 F.Supp. 502. 503 (W.D. Ky. 1990). The Court therefore will construe the claim against Defendant LMPD as a claim brought against Louisville Metro Government.

         Moreover, “[o]fficial-capacity 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, 166 (1985) (quoting Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 n.55 (1978)). Therefore, the Court construes Plaintiff's official-capacity claims against Defendants Gadeguard, Flynn, King, and Casper as brought against their employer, Louisville Metro Government.

         When a § 1983 claim is made against a municipality, this Court must analyze two distinct issues: (1) whether Plaintiff's harm was caused by a constitutional violation; and (2) if so, whether the municipality is responsible for that violation. Collins v. City of Harker Heights, Tex., 503 U.S. 115, 120 (1992). In regard to the second prong, 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. Monell, 436 U.S. at 691; Deaton v. Montgomery Cty., Ohio, 989 F.2d 885, 889 (6th Cir. 1993). To establish municipal liability, a plaintiff “must (1) identify the municipal policy or custom, (2) connect the policy to the municipality, and (3) show that his particular injury was incurred due to execution of that policy.” Alkire v. Irving, 330 F.3d 802, 815 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Garner v. Memphis Police Dep't, 8 F.3d 358, 364 (6th Cir. 1993)). The policy or custom “must be ...


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