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Russell Martin v. W.J. Sullivan

February 23, 2011

RUSSELL MARTIN,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
W.J. SULLIVAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. ObertoUNITED States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING MOTION

(Doc. #43)

Plaintiff Russell Martin ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On April 16, 2010, Defendant Bryant filed a motion for summary judgment. (Doc. #43.) Plaintiff filed an opposition on May 17, 2010. (Doc.#44.) Defendant has not filed a reply. Plaintiff and Defendant have consented to jurisdiction by U.S. Magistrate Judge. (Docs. #13, 39.)

For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim based on the alleged strip search and provide Plaintiff with an opportunity to file an amended complaint which cures the deficiencies identified in this order.

I. Background

A. Plaintiff's Claims

This action proceeds on Plaintiff's August 27, 2007, first amended complaint. (Doc. #18.) Plaintiff alleges that his rights under the Eighth Amendment were violated when he was strip searched and then placed in a cell wearing only a pair of paper boxers and forced to sleep on a steel bunk.

On November 14, 2005, Plaintiff informed prison officials that he was not getting along with his cellmate and needed to be moved. Plaintiff informed prison officials that he could not live with his cellmate because Plaintiff suffers from "real bad gas" and Plaintiff refused to return to his cell. Prison officials then confiscated Plaintiff's television and placed Plaintiff in a cell by himself without his "SHU allowable property." Plaintiff spoke with Defendant Bryant about the situation, but Bryant ignored Plaintiff's complaints.

Plaintiff alleges that the black inmates in the building then coordinated a protest by blocking their cell door windows to gain the attention of a captain or associate warden. Bryant ordered correctional officers to put on riot gear and ordered the inmates to remove the window coverings. Two officers then spoke with Plaintiff and agreed to talk to a captain the next day about Plaintiff's property if Plaintiff removed the window covering. Ten minutes later, Bryant ordered Plaintiff to cuff up because a watch commander wanted to speak with him. Plaintiff was then placed in restraints and taken to a holding cage in the dayroom. Bryant then ordered Plaintiff to strip in front of 10 to 15 male and female correctional officers. Plaintiff refused to remove his clothing in front of female officers and medical staff. Bryant then ordered the officers to remove Plaintiff from the holding cage and strip him naked. Plaintiff was stripped naked and examined by a female medical technical assistant.

Plaintiff alleges that officers then removed all the linens from Plaintiff's cell and placed him back in his cell with only one pair of paper underwear. Plaintiff was forced to sleep on a steel bunk or floor with no clothing, mattress, sheets, or blanket. Plaintiff also alleges that he did not have access to a towel, soap, or toilet paper. Plaintiff claims that the cell "was so dirty Plaintiff could literally pick dust up off the floor with his hands." (Am. Compl. 5, ECF No. 18.) Plaintiff was left in the cell in these conditions for three days. Plaintiff claims that he later received pain medication for his back and neck because he was forced to sleep on a steel bunk.

The Court screened Plaintiff's first amended complaint on January 13, 2009. (Doc. #20.) The Court found that Plaintiff stated cognizable claims against Defendant Bryant for forcing Plaintiff /// to strip naked in front of female officers and for housing Plaintiff in unsanitary conditions of confinement.*fn1 The Court dismissed all other claims raised in Plaintiff's first amended complaint.

B. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

In his motion for summary judgment, Defendant Bryant argues that he is entitled to partial summary judgment because an unclothed search of a male inmate by female medical personnel does not violate the Eighth Amendment.*fn2 Defendant also argues that he is entitled to qualified immunity because the search did not violate clearly established law. Defendant argues that "Plaintiff has failed to allege facts which support the inference that he suffered any 'pain' as a result of the search." (Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. 4:7-8, ECF No. 43.) Defendant also argues ...


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