Williams v. Dunning et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER by Judge Greg N. Stivers on 1/10/2018; Plaintiff's official-capacity claim against Defendant Dunning and his claims for injunctive relief are DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) for failure to sta te a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Court will allow Plaintiff's individual-capacity claims against Defendant Dunning to proceed under both the Fourth and Eighth Amendments. The Court will enter a separate Order Regarding Service and Scheduling Order to govern the development of the continuing claims. cc: Plaintiff, pro se; Defendant; Todd County Attorney (CDR)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
AT BOWLING GREEN
ANTHONY EUGENE WILLIAMS
CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:18-CV-P6-GNS
MAJOR DUNNING et al.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This is a pro se civil rights action brought by a former prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. This matter is
before the Court for screening of Plaintiff’s amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2).1 For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff’s individual-capacity claims against
Defendant Dunning for damages will be allowed to proceed, but his claims for injunctive relief
will be dismissed.
I. SUMMARY OF CLAIMS
In the complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on the day he was being transported from the Todd
County Detention Center (TCDC) to Louisville, Defendant Dunning insisted that he take off his
Todd County jumpsuit even though Plaintiff told Defendant Dunning that he had nothing else to
wear. Plaintiff states that Defendant Dunning “didn’t give a damn what I left in.” Plaintiff
further states that the Jefferson County Sheriff did not want to transport Plaintiff in his boxers
but had no choice because he had “four other stops” to make. Plaintiff writes that although he
pleaded with Defendant Dunning not to make him leave the jail in his boxers, she “laughed and
smirked with remarks and thought it was funny.” Plaintiff states that his transport to Louisville
In its screening of Plaintiff’s original complaint, the Court dismissed Plaintiff’s claims against the Kentucky
Department of Correction and the Todd County Detention Center, but allowed Plaintiff the opportunity to amend his
complaint to indicate whether he was suing Defendant Dunning in her individual capacity and whether he was a
pretrial detainee or a convicted prisoner (DN 9).
took three hours and that he was “boxed in with other inmates with clothing and embarrassed at
In his amended complaint, Plaintiff clarifies that he is suing Defendant Dunning in her
official and individual capacities and indicates that he was a convicted prisoner when the above
incident occurred. He also indicates that, as relief, he seeks compensatory and punitive damages,
and that Defendant Dunning be reprimanded and the “expungement of all Plaintiff’s charges
over (5) years old.”
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Upon review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), a district court must dismiss a case at any time if
it determines that the action 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. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). 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)). “[A] pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89
(2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). However, while liberal, this
standard of review does require more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions. See Columbia
Nat. Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995). The Court’s duty “does not require
[it] to conjure up unpled allegations,” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979), or to
create a claim for a 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).
Section 1983 creates no substantive rights but merely provides remedies for deprivations
of rights established elsewhere. Flint ex rel. Flint v. Ky. Dep’t of Corr., 270 F.3d 340, 351 (6th
Cir. 2001). Two elements are required to state a claim under § 1983. Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S.
635, 640 (1980). “A plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and
laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person
acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). “Absent either element,
a § 1983 claim will not lie.” Christy v. Randlett, 932 F.2d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 1991).
Based upon the allegations set forth above, the Court finds that Plaintiff has stated
colorable claims against Defendant Dunning in her individual capacity for violations of the
Fourth and Eighth Amendments. See, e.g., Crozier v. Masto, 3:10-cv-00082-LRH-VPC, 2010
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128604, at *7-8 (D.C. Nev. Nov. 18, 2010) (finding that plaintiff who was
made to wear nothing but boxers and shoes when he was outside of his cell stated a colorable
Fourth Amendment right to bodily privacy claim); Byler v. Dep’t of Corr., No. 09-CV-671, 2009
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103494 (D.C. Del. Nov. 2, 2009) (finding allegations that plaintiff was forced
to stand at the entrance of his housing unit in only his boxers and shower shoes for 20-30
minutes, where over 200 inmates passed by him, and several made sexual comments to him,
suggested possible Fourth and/or Eighth Amendment claims).
However, as the Court explained in its screening of Plaintiff’s original complaint,
Plaintiff’s official-capacity claim against Defendant Dunning fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted. “[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)). Thus, Plaintiff’s official-capacity claim against Defendant Dunning, as an
employee of the TCDC, is actually against her employer, Todd County. See, e.g., Lambert v.
Hartman, 517 F.3d 433, 440 (6th Cir. 2008) (stating that civil rights suit against county clerk of
courts in his official capacity was equivalent of suing clerk’s employer, the county). 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 or private corporation is responsible for that violation. Collins v. City of Harker
Heights, Tex., 503 U.S. 115, 120 (1992). The municipality is only liable when an official policy
or custom of the corporation causes the alleged deprivation of federal rights. See Street v. Corr.
Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 818 (6th Cir. 1996) (“Monell involved a municipal corporation, but
every circuit to consider the issue has extended the holding to private corporations as well.”).
Municipalities cannot be held liable under § 1983 for torts committed by its employees when
such liability is predicated solely upon a theory of respondeat superior. Austin v. Paramount
Parks, Inc., 195 F.3d 715, 728 (4th Cir. 1999). Here, Plaintiff does not allege that the allegedly
unconstitutional act taken against him by Defendant Dunning was the result of an official custom
or policy of Todd County. Thus, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff’s official-capacity claim against
The Court will also dismiss Plaintiff’s claims for injunctive relief for failure to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff first requests that Defendant Dunning be
reprimanded. However, because Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated at the TCDC,2 this request for
injunctive relief is moot. “[A]s a general rule, a prisoner’s transfer or release from a particular
prison moots his claims for injunctive and declaratory relief with respect to his incarceration
there.” Rendelman v. Rouse, 569 F.3d 182, 186 (4th Cir. 2009). See also Simmons v. Hays Cty.
Sheriff’s Dept., 552 F. App’x 348, 349 (5th Cir. Jan. 15, 2014) (holding plaintiff’s request for
“reprimands” of defendants moot because he had been transferred to another jail); Warren v.
Schick, No. 1:13-cv-274-FDW, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50370 (W.D. N.C. Apr. 10, 2014)
(dismissing plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief in form of reprimand of defendant because
plaintiff had been transferred to another facility).
Plaintiff also requests injunctive relief in the form of expungement of his record.
However, expungement is not an available remedy under § 1983. See Heck v. Humphrey, 512
U.S. 477, 481 (1994) (“[H]abeas corpus is the exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who
challenges the fact or duration of his confinement and seeks immediate or speedier release, even
though such a claim may come with the literal terms of § 1983.”). “[W]hen a state prisoner is
challenging the very fact or duration of his physical imprisonment, and the relief he seeks is a
determination that he is entitled to immediate release or a speedier release from that
imprisonment, his sole federal remedy is a writ of habeas corpus.” Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411
U.S. 475, 500 (1973). Therefore, Plaintiff cannot seek relief in the form of expungement of his
record under § 1983, and his claim for such relief will be dismissed for failure to state a claim.
Plaintiff indicates that his current address is in Louisville, Kentucky (DN 11).
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff’s official-capacity claim against
Defendant Dunning and his claims for injunctive relief are DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
However, the Court will allow Plaintiff’s individual-capacity claims against Defendant
Dunning to proceed under both the Fourth and Eighth Amendments.
The Court will enter a separate Order Regarding Service and Scheduling Order to govern
the development of the continuing claims.
January 10, 2018
Greg N. Stivers, Judge
United States District Court
Plaintiff, pro se
Todd County Attorney
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