United States District Court, D. Maine
ANTHONY M. LOGAN, Plaintiff
MAINE STATE PRISION, et al., Defendants
RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER SCREENING COMPLAINT
PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(E), 1915A
C. Nivison, U.S. Magistrate Judge.
action, Plaintiff Anthony M. Logan, an inmate in the custody
of the Maine Department of Corrections, alleges he was
unlawfully strip searched in his cell at the Maine State
filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No.
6), which application the Court granted. (ECF No. 7.) In
accordance with the in forma pauperis statute, a preliminary
review of Plaintiff's complaint is appropriate. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2). Additionally, Plaintiff's complaint is
subject to screening “before docketing, if feasible or
… as soon as practicable after docketing, ”
because he is “a prisoner seek[ing] redress from a
governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental
entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
a review of Plaintiff's complaint, I recommend the Court
dismiss the complaint.
federal in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915, is
designed to ensure meaningful access to the federal courts
for those persons unable to pay the costs of bringing an
action. When a party is proceeding in forma pauperis,
however, “the court shall dismiss the case at any time
if the court determines, ” inter alia, that the action
is “frivolous or malicious” or “fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted” or
“seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). “Dismissals [under § 1915] are
often made sua sponte prior to the issuance of process, so as
to spare prospective defendants the inconvenience and expense
of answering such complaints.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989).
addition to the review contemplated by § 1915,
Plaintiff's complaint is subject to screening under the
Prison Litigation Reform Act because Plaintiff currently is
incarcerated and seeks redress from governmental entities and
officers. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (c). The
§ 1915A screening requires courts to “identify
cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of
the complaint, if the complaint (1) is frivolous, malicious,
or fails to state a claim …; or (2) seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
considering whether a complaint states a claim for which
relief may be granted, courts must assume the truth of all
well-plead facts and give the plaintiff the benefit of all
reasonable inferences therefrom. Ocasio-Hernandez v.
Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011). A
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
a pro se plaintiff's complaint is subject to “less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,
” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972),
this is “not to say that pro se plaintiffs are not
required to plead basic facts sufficient to state a claim,
” Ferranti v. Moran, 618 F.2d 888, 890 (1st
Cir. 1980). To allege a civil action in federal court, it is
not enough for a plaintiff merely to allege that a defendant
acted unlawfully; a plaintiff must affirmatively allege facts
that identify the manner by which the defendant subjected the
plaintiff to a harm for which the law affords a remedy.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
caption of his complaint, Plaintiff identifies the defendants
as “Maine State Prison and staff.” (Complaint at
1.) In his list of defendants, Plaintiff asserts that he
intends to proceed against “MSP staff, ”
including unnamed captains, sergeants, and corrections
officers. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff alleges that he was
strip searched in his cell in the presence of his cell mate.
(Id. at 3.) According to Plaintiff, female staff,
including the unit manager, were “running around
throughout the pod as [the] searches were being
conducted.” (Id.) Plaintiff also alleges being
“searched with dirty gloves as well as other
[unspecified] violations.” (Id.) Plaintiff
requests an order that would “stop the prison staff
from doing wrong and not following the rules.”
Plaintiff has failed to identify a proper defendant in his
complaint. While the Court might construe his claim as an
official capacity claim for injunctive relief and assign an
appropriate defendant, for reasons that follow, Plaintiff has
failed to allege facts that would support a claim for relief.
prisoners experience a reduction in many privileges and
rights, a prisoner ‘retains those [constitutional]
rights that are not inconsistent with his status as a
prisoner or with the legitimate penological objectives of the
corrections system.'” Sanchez v.
Pereira-Castillo, 590 F.3d 31, 41 (1st Cir. 2009)
(quoting Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 95, (1987)).
In the specific context of strip searches conducted in
connection with prison administration, the decision to search
a particular inmate does not require probable cause or
articulable suspicion, and a search need only be conducted
pursuant to “reasonable search policies, ”
meaning search policies “reasonably related to
legitimate security interests.” Florence v. Bd. of
Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington, 566 U.S.
318, 327 - 28 (2012) (holding that the programmatic,
non-invasive strip-searching of “nonindictable
offenders” housed in the general population, without
reasonable suspicion, does not violate the Fourth or
Fourteenth Amendment). Only strip searches that lack a
legitimate purpose, or strip searches that have a legitimate
purpose but that are conducted in a manner designed to
humiliate, abuse, or harass prisoners, are actionable.
Id. at 339; King v. McCarty, 781 F.3d 889,
897 (7th Cir. 2015) (applying the Eighth Amendment to claims
involving allegations of harassment and humiliation).
evidently maintains that an in-cell strip search conducted in
the presence of a cell mate, when female officers are in the
pod and could look into the cell, violates the applicable
standard. Plaintiff, however, has not alleged facts to
suggest the search was conducted in the absence of a
legitimate institutional purpose or was motivated by a desire
to harass or humiliate. In the absence of such facts, federal
courts have concluded that a strip search conducted in the