Price v. Brewer et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER by Senior Judge Thomas B. Russell on 1/8/2018. Plaintiff is WARNED that his failure to file an amended complaint within the time allotted will result in dismissal of the entire action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.cc: Plaintiff, pro se; Defendants; Fulton County Attorney (MNM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
THOMAS MCHENRY PRICE
CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:17CV-P125-TBR
RICK BREWER et al.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Thomas Mchenry Price, who is incarcerated in the Fulton County Detention
Center (FCDC), filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is before the
Court on initial review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons that
follow, the complaint will be dismissed, but Plaintiff will be given an opportunity to file an
Plaintiff brings suit against FCDC Deputy Guard Rick Brewer and the FCDC. He does
not indicate in which capacity(ies) he sues Defendant Brewer. As his statement of his claims,
Plaintiff alleges that while Defendant Brewer was driving the property truck, Plaintiff “was
riding passenger side of the truck in the back while legs Hanging off he ramed me into side of
building twisted me off the truck and pinned me in between truck and building.” Plaintiff states
that he received “a spinal and leg injury”; that Defendant Brewer refused him medical treatment
until another FCDC employee became concerned for Plaintiff; and that the second time he went
to medical, he was billed. He asserts that he has been having “Bad Back Pain since the accident
and they have been refusing me medical treatment.” As relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary and
punitive damages and injunctive relief.1
Because Plaintiff is a prisoner seeking relief against governmental entities, officers,
and/or employees, this Court must review the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under
§ 1915A, the Court must review the complaint and dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the
complaint, if the Court determines that it 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).
A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). The trial court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as
frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual
contentions are clearly baseless. Id. at 327. 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
Plaintiff requests injunctive relief of “1 year.” It is unknown what Plaintiff means or what relief he
wants in requesting “1 year.”
478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009)
(citations omitted)). “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).
A. Defendant FCDC
Defendant FCDC is not a “person” subject to suit under § 1983 because municipal
departments, such as jails, are not suable under § 1983. Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049
(6th Cir. 1994); Marbry v. Corr. Med. Servs., No. 99–6706, 2000 WL 1720959, at *2 (6th Cir.
Nov. 6, 2000) (holding that a jail is not an entity subject to suit under § 1983). In this situation,
it is Fulton County that is the proper defendant. See Smallwood v. Jefferson Cty. Gov’t, 743 F.
Supp. 502, 503 (W.D. Ky. 1990).
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). The Court will address the issues in reverse order.
“[A] municipality cannot be held liable solely because it employs a tortfeasor—or, in
other words, a municipality cannot be held liable under § 1983 on a respondeat superior theory.”
Monell v. New York City Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978); Searcy v. City of
Dayton, 38 F.3d 282, 286 (6th Cir. 1994); Berry v. City of Detroit, 25 F.3d 1342, 1345 (6th Cir.
1994). “[T]he touchstone of ‘official policy’ is designed ‘to distinguish acts of the municipality
from acts of employees of the municipality, and thereby make clear that municipal liability is
limited to action for which the municipality is actually responsible.’” City of St. Louis v.
Praprotnik, 485 U.S. 112, 138 (1988) (quoting Pembaur v. Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469, 479-80
(1986)) (emphasis in original). To demonstrate 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)).
None of the allegations in the complaint demonstrate that any alleged wrongdoing or
injury occurred as a result of a policy or custom implemented or endorsed by Fulton County.
Accordingly, the complaint fails to establish a basis of liability against the municipality and fails
to state a cognizable § 1983 claim. Accordingly, the claims against the FCDC will be dismissed.
B. Defendant Brewer
Plaintiff fails to state the capacity in which he sues Defendant Brewer. Individualcapacity “suits seek to impose personal liability upon a government official for actions he takes
under color of state law.” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985). “Official-capacity
suits, in contrast, ‘generally represent only another way of pleading an action against an entity of
which an officer is an agent.’” Id. at 166 (quoting Monell, 436 U.S. at 691 n.55). “[Section]
1983 plaintiffs must clearly notify defendants of the potential for individual liability.” Moore v.
City of Harriman, 272 F.3d 769, 773 (6th Cir. 2001) (en banc). “When a § 1983 plaintiff fails to
affirmatively plead capacity in the complaint, we then look to the course of proceedings” to
ascertain whether the defendant has been notified of the potential for personal liability. Id.
Upon review, the Court finds that the complaint fails to indicate that Plaintiff intends to
impose individual liability on Defendant Brewer, and none of Plaintiff’s other filings pertain to
that issue. The Court, therefore, will not construe this action as asserting any claim against
Defendant Brewer in his individual capacity but will construe it only as asserting claims against
him in his official capacity.
Since “[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. at 166,
Plaintiff’s official-capacity claims against Defendant Brewer are actually deemed to be against
Fulton County. See 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). As determined above, the complaint fails to establish a basis of liability
against Fulton County and fails to state a cognizable § 1983 claim. Therefore, the officialcapacity claims against Defendant Brewer will be dismissed.
Because the claims against FCDC and the official-capacity claims against Defendant
Brewer will be dismissed, the complaint must be dismissed. Under Rule 15(a) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, however, “a district court can allow a plaintiff to amend his complaint
even when the complaint is subject to dismissal under the PLRA [Prison Litigation Reform
Act].” LaFountain v. Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013). Thus, the Court will allow
Plaintiff to file an amended complaint suing Defendant Brewer in his individual capacity with
respect to the claims that Defendant Brewer was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s safety and
to his serious medical needs; naming as Defendant(s) any other person(s) he claims has denied/is
denying him medical treatment, suing each new Defendant in his/her individual capacity, and
providing facts detailing how each new Defendant denied him medical treatment; and indicating
whether Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee or convicted prisoner at FCDC.
For the foregoing reasons,
IT IS ORDERED that all claims against FCDC and the official-capacity claims against
Defendant Brewer are DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) for failure to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that within 30 days from the entry date of this
Memorandum Opinion and Order, Plaintiff may file an amended complaint (1) suing
Defendant Brewer in his individual capacity with respect to the claims that Defendant Brewer
was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s safety and to his serious medical needs; (2) naming as
Defendant(s) any other person(s) he claims has denied/is denying him medical treatment, suing
each new Defendant in his/her individual capacity, and providing facts detailing how each new
Defendant denied him medical treatment; and (3) indicating whether Plaintiff is a pretrial
detainee or convicted prisoner at FCDC. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to write the
instant case number and “Amended” on a § 1983 complaint form and send it, along with
three blank summons forms, to Plaintiff for his completion should he wish to file an amended
Plaintiff is WARNED that his failure to file an amended complaint within the time
allotted will result in dismissal of the entire action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A for failure
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
January 8, 2018
Plaintiff, pro se
Fulton County Attorney
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