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Violett v. King

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

December 9, 2019

DANIEL KING et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Donald Ray Violett filed the instant pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action proceeding in forma pauperis [R. 1; R. 5]. The complaint is now before the Court for initial screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons stated below, the Court will allow Plaintiff's retaliation claims to proceed and dismiss his other claims.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff, an inmate at the Kentucky State Reformatory (KSR), sues the following Defendants: Daniel King, whom he identifies as the “[Prison Rape Elimination Act] PREA Coordinator Manager” at KSR; Deanna Mann, a corrections officer at KSR; Jeffrey Hope, a captain at KSR; and Anna Valentine, the KSR Warden. [R. 1] Plaintiff does not identify in what capacities he sues Defendants.

         Under a heading setting forth the basis for federal question jurisdiction, Plaintiff refers to PREA; a violation of his “First Amendment Freedom of Religious Beliefs”; intimidation, retaliation, and harassment; a violation of the Eighth Amendment; and a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process based on “refusing Plaintiff right to face his accuser or question his accuser in a legal procedure[.]” [Id.]

         Plaintiff states that in July 2018, while he was housed in the Nursing Care Facility at KSR, his bed was next to “a door with a glass.” [Id.] He states, “Each morning when Plaintiff rose, and as he dressed, female inmate would look through the glass viewing Plaintiff, which violated his rights to religious beliefs that no female should view a male nude unless they are married.” [Id.] Plaintiff states that he filed a PREA grievance. [Id.] He states that Defendant King “came to [the Nursing Care Facility] and found Plaintiff had a problem and agreed to either cover the lower portion of the glass or bring a partition to block the viewing of the females looking in the glass.” [Id.] He continues, “King then covered up Plaintiff's PREA grievance and started harassing Plaintiff by telling staff that he thought Plaintiff was ‘gay.' Plaintiff suffered emotional distress, mental anguish and los[s] of a prison job because of the harassment of Defendant King.” [Id.]

         Plaintiff further maintains that on March 7, 2019, while he was housed in KSR's Disabled Living Unit, he “was changing clothes at his bed when . . . Defendant Mann viewed Plaintiff.” [Id.] He reports that he asked to see Defendant King in order to file a PREA grievance but that Defendant Mann, a female corrections officer, refused his request and “got Defendant Hope to tell Plaintiff he could not see Defendant King to file a grievance.” [Id.]

         Plaintiff states that on that same date he filed a PREA grievance which was delivered to Defendant King and a deputy warden. [Id.] He asserts, “Defendant King done another cover up of Plaintiff's PREA grievance and, on March 13, 2019 Defendant King had Defendant Hope issue Disciplinary Report No. KSR-2019-00557 in retaliation for Plaintiff filing Grievance No. 19-0177, charging Plaintiff with being nude in his bed area.” [Id.] He states that Defendant Mann was listed as the complainant in the disciplinary report. [Id.]

         Plaintiff asserts that on May 10, 2019, he received a letter from the Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC) ombudsman stating that his “Grievance No. 19-0177 would be reinstated after it was determined Defendant King had done a cover up of Plaintiff's PREA grievance.” [Id.] He states that Defendants Valentine and King have refused to process his PREA grievance. [Id.] He further asserts that Defendant King “issued Disciplinary Report No. KRS-2019-00626, through retaliation, charging Plaintiff with obtaining services under false pretenses.” [Id.] He reports that he was found guilty of both disciplinary reports “after Defendant Valentine refused to permit Plaintiff to question Defendant King about the Disciplinary Reports or permit Plaintiff [the] right to receive answers from Defendant King, in written questions Plaintiff submitted under [the] Rules of Discovery.” [Id.]

         Plaintiff further states that Defendants King and Valentine have further retaliated against him “after Plaintiff complained to John Tilly, Justice Secretary for the [KDOC] that [the Disabled Living Unit] bathroom did not meet PREA, ADA, and ACA standards and requirements for handicap inmates.” [Id.] He asserts that Defendants King and Valentine “had Plaintiff found guilty of the Disciplinary Reports.” [Id.] He reports that on May 15, 2019, the Disabled Living Unit bathroom “received remodeling to meet PREA, ADA, and ACA standards and requirements.” [Id.] He states that he lost his prison job “because Plaintiff complained about the PREA, ADA, and ACA violations in the [Disabled Living Unit] bathroom.” [Id.]

         Finally, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant King requires him “to use the [Disabled Living Unit] bathroom to dress or undress but, other [Disabled Living Unit] inmates can dress or undress in their bed area because Defendant King dislikes Plaintiff's strong religious beliefs.” [Id.] He continues, “Defendant King puts out rumors that Plaintiff is ‘gay' to harass the Plaintiff, causing the Plaintiff to have serious emotional problems, mental anguish because of Plaintiff's strong religious beliefs are violated.” [Id.]

         As relief, Plaintiff requests that “the proper Federal agency(s) investigate Defendants' PREA violations at KSR” and seeks compensatory and punitive damages. [Id.]

         II. Standard

         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 claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[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)). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557).

         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). And this Court is not required to create a claim for Plaintiff. Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975). To command otherwise would require the Court “to explore exhaustively all potential claims of a pro se plaintiff, [and] would also transform the district court from its legitimate advisory role to the improper role of an advocate seeking out the strongest arguments and most successful strategies for a party.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

         III. ...

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