United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
JOSHUA L. KEENAN Plaintiff,
CORRECTIONS OFFICER BOWKER, et al. Defendants.
R. ADAMS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
se Plaintiff Joshua L. Keenan (“Plaintiff”
or “Keenan”), a pretrial detainee at the Trumbull
Count Jail, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against Corrections Officer Bowker in his official
capacity, unnamed County Corrections Officers in their
official capacities, Trumbull County Jail Chaplin Tom in his
official capacity, and Trumbull County Sheriff Paul Monroe in
his official capacity (collectively,
“Defendants”). Doc. 1 at 2-3 (Complaint).
Keenan's § 1983 allegations involve issues
concerning grievances, religious services, unsanitary
conditions, overcrowding, recreation, and exercise. See
id. at 5-13. Keenan claims that Defendants, acting in
their official capacities, have violated his right to freedom
of speech and to attend religious services, and that the
alleged prison conditions constitute cruel and unusual
punishment. Id. at 3. For relief, Keenan wishes
“Trumbull County to seriously address the fact that the
Sheriff and his deputies are ignoring and disregarding”
prisoners' rights and seeks $150, 000.00 in damages.
Id. at 5.
reasons that follow, this case is dismissed.
Standard of Review
se pleadings are liberally construed by the Court.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (pro se
complaints are held to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers); Boag v. MacDougall,
454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982). Nevertheless, federal district
courts are expressly required under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B) to screen all in forma pauperis
actions and to dismiss before service any such action that is
frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief.
standard for dismissal articulated in Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) with respect to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) also governs dismissal under §
1915(e)(2)(B). Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71
(6th Cir. 2010). Therefore, in order to survive scrutiny
under § 1915(e)(2)(B), a pro se complaint must
set forth sufficient factual matter, accepted as true and
with all reasonable inferences drawn in plaintiff's
favor, to state a plausible claim for relief. See Anson
v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 529 Fed.Appx. 558, 559 (6th Cir.
2013) (“Section 1915(e)(2)(B) authorizes dismissal if
the action fails to state a plausible claim for relief or is
frivolous.”); Total Benefits Planning Agency, Inc.
v. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, 552 F.3d 430, 434
(6th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted).
lenient treatment generally accorded pro se
litigants has its limits.” Pilgrim v.
Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996) (citing
Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991)).
Pro se plaintiffs must still meet basic pleading
requirements, and the courts are not required to conjure
allegations or construct claims on their behalf. See
Erwin v. Edwards, 22 Fed.Appx. 579, 580 (6th Cir. 2001);
Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1277
(4th Cir. 1985).
order to plead a cause of action under § 1983, a
plaintiff must plead two elements: ‘(1) deprivation of
a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States (2) caused by a person acting under color of state
law.'” Tate v. Comrie, No.
5:16CV3090, 2018 WL 1409288, at *4 (N.D. Ohio Mar. 21, 2018)
(emphasis removed) (quoting Hunt v. Sycamore Cmty. Sch.
Dist. Bd. of Educ., 542 F.3d 529, 534 (6th Cir. 2008)
(citations omitted)); Waters v. City of Morristown,
TN, 242 F.3d 353, 358-59 (6th Cir. 2001) (same)
brings his claims against Defendants in their official
capacities. Plaintiff's § 1983 official capacity
suit against Defendants is equivalent to a suit against
Trumbull County. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159,
165-66 (1985) (official capacity suits are not suits against
the official personally “for the real party in interest
is the entity.”) (citing Monell v. Dep't of
Soc. Serv., 436 U.S. 658, 690 n.55 (1978)). Trumbull
County is not liable under § 1983 for the actions of its
employees pursuant to the doctrine of respondeat
superior. Monell, 436 U.S. at 691. In an
official-capacity action, Trumbull County is liable under
§ 1983 only when the County itself is a
“‘moving force'” behind the
deprivation. Graham, 473 U.S. at 166 (quoting
Polk Cty. v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 326 (1981)
(quoting Monell, 436 U.S. at 694)). In order to
prevail on a § 1983 action against Trumbull County,
Plaintiff must show that the alleged violation of federal
rights occurred because of a County policy or custom.
Id. (“[T]hus, in an official-capacity suit the
[county's] ‘policy or custom' must have played
a part in the violation of federal law.”) (citations
omitted); see also Hurst v. Fentress Cty. Tennessee,
229 F.3d 1152 (Table) (6th Cir. 2000) (“Municipal
entities cannot be held responsible for a constitutional
deprivation unless there is a direct causal link between a
municipal policy or custom and the alleged constitutional
deprivation.”) (citing Deaton v. Montgomery Cty.,
Ohio, 989 F.2d 885, 889 (6th Cir. 1993)).
Keenan fails to assert any allegations regarding a policy or
custom of Trumbull County that purportedly caused the claimed
violation of his constitutional rights, which is necessary to
state a claim against Defendants in their official
capacities. The Court is not required to conjure allegations
or construct claims on Plaintiff's behalf. Having failed
to state a plausible § 1983 official capacity claim
against any of the Defendants, this action is dismissed
pursuant to § 1915(e).
of the foregoing reasons, this case is dismissed pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) for failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff's motions for
appointment of counsel are moot and denied as such. Doc. 4
Court certifies, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3),
that an appeal from this decision ...