United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. HOOD SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Anthony Joseph Popejoy is a pre-trial detainee confined at
the Laurel County Detention Center (“LCDC”)
located in London, Kentucky. Proceeding without an attorney,
Popejoy has filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 [R. 1] and a motion to waive payment of
the filing and administrative fees. [R. 2].
information contained in Popejoy's fee motion indicates
that he lacks sufficient assets or income to pay the $350.00
filing fee. Because Popejoy has been granted pauper status in
this proceeding, the $50.00 administrative fee is waived.
District Court Miscellaneous Fee Schedule, § 14.
Court must conduct a preliminary review of Popejoy's
complaint because he has been granted pauper status. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), 1915A. A district court must
dismiss any claim that 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. McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601,
607-08 (6th Cir. 1997). The Court evaluates Popejoy's
complaint under a more lenient standard because he is not
represented by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Burton v. Jones, 321 F.3d 569,
573 (6th Cir. 2003). At this stage, the Court accepts the
plaintiff's factual allegations as true, and his legal
claims are liberally construed in his favor. Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).
complaint, Popejoy alleges that, during the course of being
placed in a police car, he was struck in the head by Sgt.
Chris Edwards and repeatedly stomped and kicked in the head
by Edwards and Defendants Detective Bryan Lawson and Sgt.
Brett Reeves. [R. 1]. He sues all three Defendants in their
official capacities only. [R. 1, at 3]. He seeks $5, 000,
000.00 in damages because of hearing loss and PTSD and
requests to be transferred from LCDC. [R. 1, at 5].
as currently drafted, Popejoy's complaint must be
dismissed. First, Popejoy did not sign his complaint
[Id. at 6], as is required by Rule 11 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(a)
(requiring that “[e]very pleading, written motion, and
other paper must be signed . . . by a party personally if the
party is unrepresented”).
so, his complaint must be dismissed for failure to state a
claim for relief. A complaint must set forth claims in a
clear and concise manner, and 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); Hill v.
Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470 (6th Cir. 2010). Although the
Court has an obligation to liberally construe a complaint
filed by a person proceeding without counsel, it has no
authority to create arguments or claims that the plaintiff
has not made. Coleman v. Shoney's, Inc., 79
Fed.Appx. 155, 157 (6th Cir. 2003) (“Pro se parties
must still brief the issues advanced with some effort at
developed argumentation.”). Vague allegations that one
or more of the defendants acted wrongfully or violated the
plaintiff's constitutional rights are not sufficient.
Laster v. Pramstaller, No. 08-CV-10898, 2008 WL
1901250, at *2 (E.D. Mich. April 25, 2008).
Popejoy does not specify the constitutional provision that he
claims has been violated, the Court will liberally construe
his complaint to allege a violation of the Eighth Amendment
based on his allegations of excessive force. However, Popejoy
affirmatively indicates that he seeks to pursue his claims
against Defendants in their official capacities only. [R. 1,
at 3]. An “official capacity” claim against a
government official is not a claim against the officer
arising out of his conduct as an employee of the government
but is actually a claim directly against the governmental
agency which employs him. Lambert v. Hartman, 517
F.3d 433, 439-40 (6th Cir. 2008); Alkire v. Irving,
330 F.3d 802, 810 (6th Cir. 2003) (“While
personal-capacity suits seek to impose personal liability
upon a government official for actions he takes under color
of state law, individuals sued in their official capacities
stand in the shoes of the entity they represent.”)
(internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, to the extent
Popejoy seeks to bring claims against Defendants in their
“official” capacities as employees of Laurel
County, such claims are construed as civil rights claims
against the county.
while Popejoy claims that the actions of Defendants were
wrongful, he does not assert that these actions were taken
pursuant to an established policy of Laurel County. Because a
county government is only responsible under § 1983 when
its employees cause injury by carrying out the county's
formal policies or practices, Monell v. Dept. of Social
Services, 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978), a plaintiff must
specify the county policy or custom which he alleges caused
his injury. Paige v. Coyner, 614 F.3d 273, 284 (6th
Cir. 2010). Popejoy points to no such policy in his
complaint, and these claims are therefore subject to
dismissal for failure to state a claim. Id.;
Bright v. Gallia County, Ohio, 753 F.3d 639, 660
(6th Cir. 2014) (“To establish municipal liability
pursuant to § 1983, a plaintiff must allege an
unconstitutional action that ‘implements or executes a
policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision
officially adopted and promulgated by that body's
officers' or a ‘constitutional deprivation 
visited pursuant to governmental custom even though such a
custom has not received formal approval through the
body's official decisionmaking channels.'”);
Brown v. Cuyahoga County, Ohio, 517 Fed.Appx. 431,
436 (6th Cir. 2013).
Court cannot create claims that Popejoy has not made. Thus,
his affirmative choice to bring his claims against Defendants
solely in their official capacities requires that these
claims be dismissed for failure to state a claim for which
relief may be granted.
of these reasons, Popejoy's complaint will be dismissed.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that:
1. Popejoy's motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis [R. 2] is GRANTED. Payment of the
filing and administrative fees are WAIVED.
2. Popejoy's Complaint [R. 1] is DISMISSED