United States District Court, N.D. Ohio
JAMES M. ARMSTRONG, Plaintiff,
DANIEL DUNLAP, et al., Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER [RESOLVING DOC. 12, 20,
S. GWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
se Plaintiff James M. Armstrong filed this civil rights
action against Defendants Lake County Sheriff Daniel Dunlap,
Chief Deputy Frank Leonbruno, and Captain Cynthia Brooks. In
his Complaint, Plaintiff makes a series of allegations
concerning jail conditions and facilities at the Lake County
Adult Detention Facility. He seeks an injunctive order requiring
Defendants to rectify the conditions and facilities at the
jail, as well as monetary damages.
move to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a cause of
action. Plaintiff opposes. For the following reasons,
the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion to
asserts that inmates at Lake County Adult Detention Facility
should be given the following rights:
1) Medications distributed by registered nurses;
2) Sanitary living conditions free of mold or insects;
3) An up-to-date law library;
4) One free phone call at booking;
5) Clean heating and air duct systems;
6) One hour of recreation a day;
7) Clean blankets once a month;
8) Sanitary food service;
9) Medical attention;
10) Food served at reasonable times; and
11) Food with enough calories.
seek an injunctive order requiring the jail to address
Plaintiff's concerns.Plaintiff also seeks $85, 000 in
move to dismiss the Complaint for failing to state a claim
against Defendants in either their official or individual
capacities. Defendants also argue that Plaintiff has
failed to allege any constitutional violations. Plaintiff
federal courts are obligated to construe pro se
complaints liberally,  such principles are not without
limits. Plaintiffs proceeding pro se
must still meet basic pleading standards, and courts are not
required to “conjure allegations on [their]
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim for relief that is plausible on its
face.'” The plausibility requirement is not a
“probability requirement.” Plaintiff
need not try to prove his case in the complaint. But there
must be “more than a sheer possibility that the
defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Rule of Civil Procedure 8 provides the general pleading
standard and only requires that a complaint “contain .
. . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” “Rule 8
marks a notable and generous departure from the
hypertechnical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it
does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed
with nothing more than conclusions.” In deciding a
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), “a court should
assume the veracity” of “well-pleaded factual
allegations, ” but need not accept a plaintiff's
conclusory allegations as true.
Official Capacity Claims
Court first addresses whether Plaintiff sufficiently alleges
claims against Defendants in their official capacities.
Plaintiff makes claims against Lake County Sheriff Daniel
Dunlap, Chief Deputy Frank Leonbruno, and Captain Cynthia
Brooks in their official capacities. These individuals are
employees of Lake County.
against a government employee in his or her official capacity
“represent[s] only another way of pleading an action
against an entity of which an officer is an
agent.” Therefore, Plaintiff's official
capacity claims under Section 1983 are claims directly
against Lake County.
government subdivision such as Lake County is a
“person” with respect to § 1983
liability. However, Lake County cannot be held
liable under § 1983 on a respondeat superior
theory. Lake County can only be held liable
under § 1983 when the execution of the local
government's policy or custom inflicts the alleged
injury. Thus, Plaintiff must demonstrate a
direct causal link between the government's policy or
custom and the constitutional deprivation by showing that the
alleged injury was caused by the execution of the particular
policy or custom.
Here, Plaintiff fails to allege any facts that suggest the
jail employees were acting pursuant to Lake County's
custom or policy. In fact, Plaintiff does not mention
“custom” or “policy” at all in his
Complaint. Thus, the Court dismisses Plaintiff's official
capacity claims against Defendants.
Individual Capacity Claims
also fails to allege claims against Defendants in their
can only demonstrate Defendants' individual liability by
showing Defendants were personally involved in the
unconstitutional behavior alleged. Thus, individual
liability “must be based on the actions of that
defendant in the situation that the defendant faced, and not
based on any problems caused by the errors of others, either
defendants or non-defendants.”
impose supervisory liability, “‘a § 1983
plaintiff must show that a supervisory official at least
implicitly authorized, approved or knowingly acquiesced in
the unconstitutional conduct of the offending
fails to make any such allegations. At most, Plaintiff
alleges that Defendants “are responsible for the
functioning of the facility Lake County
Jail.” Plaintiff also seems to say that
Defendants are responsible for the alleged constitutional
violations by denying Plaintiff's
grievances. These allegations fail to support
individual capacity claims against Defendants.
these allegations do not demonstrate that Defendants knew
Plaintiff or personally participated in the decisions
concerning the jail's functioning that injured
these allegations fail to impose supervisory liability on
Defendants. Plaintiff has not alleged any facts suggesting
that Defendants authorized, approved, or knowingly acquiesced
in the alleged constitutional violations.
Defendants' alleged “denial of [Plaintiff's]
administrative grievances or the[ir] failure to act” is
also insufficient. Plaintiff can only assert claims against
the subjects of his grievances, not those who merely decided
whether to grant or deny the grievances. Thus,
Plaintiff fails to impose supervisory liability on Defendants
merely because they denied his administrative grievances.
to the extent Plaintiff alleges individual capacity claims
against Defendants, these claims are also dismissed.
Plaintiff Does Not Allege Any Cognizable Constitutional
Plaintiffs could bring suit against Defendants, the Court
finds that Plaintiff fails to allege any cognizable
violations of his constitutional rights.
requests a law library with up-to-date
materials. However, neither the First nor
Fourteenth Amendment guarantees inmates access to an adequate
First Amendment only guarantees inmates the right to access
the courts. But to show he was denied this right, Plaintiff
must explain how the “the alleged shortcomings in the
library . . . hindered his efforts to pursue a legal
claim.” Plaintiff makes no such allegation.
Thus, Plaintiff fails to make a cognizable claim under the
Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment right to due process
only guarantees Plaintiff the right to an attorney during his
criminal trial. Accordingly, Plaintiff cannot state a
Fourteenth Amendment violation because he was deprived of an
adequate law library.
Court thus dismisses Plaintiff's claim concerning his
right to an adequate law library.