United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
ELLIOTT G. KYLES, Plaintiff,
BEAU CHARNEY, RICARDO ESCALANTE, and JEREMY NELSON, Defendants.
DECISION AND ORDER SCREENING PLAINTIFF'S AMENDED
COMPLAINT (DKT. NO. 9) AND DISMISSING CASE
PAMELA PEPPER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff, who is representing himself, is an inmate at the
Dodge Correctional Institution. Dkt. No. 11. He filed a
complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that the
defendants violated his constitutional rights. Dkt. No. 1.
After identifying problems in the plaintiff's original
complaint, the court gave him the opportunity to file an
amended complaint, dkt. no. 8; he did so on February 12,
2018, dkt. no. 9. The court will screen the plaintiff's
amended complaint as required by 28 U.S.C. §1915A(a).
Screening the Plaintiff's Complaint
Federal Screening Standard
court must dismiss a complaint if the plaintiff raises claims
that are legally “frivolous or malicious, ” that
fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or
that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. 28 U.S.C. §1915A(b).
state a claim, a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, “that is plausible on its
face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility
when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows a court
to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. §1983, a plaintiff must
allege that: 1) he was deprived of a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States; and 2) the
defendant was acting under color of state law.
Buchanan-Moore v. County of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824,
827 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Kramer v. Village of North
Fond du Lac, 384 F.3d 856, 861 (7th Cir. 2004)); see
also Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). The
court gives a pro se plaintiff's allegations,
“however inartfully pleaded, ” a liberal
construction. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97,
The Plaintiff's Allegations
plaintiff alleges that, on December 22, 2015, he was brought
into the Brown County Jail on a felony warrant and a new
charge of possession of a firearm by a felon. Dkt. No. 9 at
2. The plaintiff asserts that, because a firearm had already
been found, there was no probable cause “to strip
search for drugs.” Id. According to the
plaintiff, however, defendant police officer Ricardo
Escalante ordered defendant jail guards Beau Charney and
Jeremy Nelson to strip search the plaintiff to look for drugs
and to bring the plaintiff's clothing to Escalante so he
could search the plaintiff's clothes for drugs.
Id. at 3.
plaintiff alleges that Charney and Nelson strip searched him
before he was booked into the jail. Id. at 3, 5.
They allegedly took him to a stall, told him to remove his
clothes, open his mouth, hold out his hands, hold up his arms
to show his armpits, lift up his feet one at a time to show
the bottoms of his feet and spread his buttocks. Id.
They then gave him a uniform and took him back to intake in
the waiting area. Id. According to the plaintiff,
Charney gave the plaintiff's clothes to Escalante, who
said he found drugs in the plaintiff's clothing.
plaintiff states that the search violated the Fourth
Amendment and Wisconsin statute §968.255, because the
defendants performed the search without probable cause and
without written authorization proving lawfulness.
Id. at 6.
The Court's Analysis
Supreme Court has explained that “[c]orrectional
officers have a significant interest in conducting a thorough
search as a standard part of the intake process.”
Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of
Burlington, 566 U.S. 318, 330 (2012). This is because
new inmates may introduce risks to a jail, including bringing
in contraband such as weapons, drugs or alcohol, all of which
may make jail staff and inmates unsafe. Id. at 332.
As a result, the Supreme Court held that under the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendments, jail staff may conduct strip searches
of all people being admitted to the general population of a
jail, regardless of the severity of the person's crime,
the behavior of the person or the criminal history of the
person. Id. at 338.
ruling does not protect defendants in situations where
“officers engag[e] in intentional humiliation and other
abusive practices, ” but the plaintiff has not alleged
that the officers stripped him in order to humiliate or abuse
him. He is not challenging the manner in which the search was
conducted-he describes a standard strip search with no
physical contact by the defendants. He is challenging the
fact that the strip search was conducted at all, arguing that
it was unnecessary because “a firearm had already been
found.” Dkt. No. 9 at 2. Because the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendment allow strip searches under the
circumstances alleged by the plaintiff, his belief that the
search was not ...