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West v. Kind

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

July 31, 2018

RUFUS WEST, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Rufus West is a prisoner representing himself. He filed a complaint alleging that the defendants violated his constitutional rights. Dkt. No. 1. The court screened the complaint, found that it violated federal procedural rules because it tried to bring unrelated claims in a single case, and directed the plaintiff to file an amended complaint if he wanted to proceed. Dkt. No. 14 at 7-9. The plaintiff has filed an amended complaint, which this order screens under 28 U.S.C. §1915A.

         I. Screening the Plaintiff's Amended Complaint

         A. Federal Screening Standard

         The law requires the court to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. §1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint if the plaintiff raises claims that are legally “frivolous or malicious, ” that fail to state a claim upon which the court can grant relief, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune that relief. 28 U.S.C. §1915A(b).

         To 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).

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. §1983, a plaintiff must allege that 1) someone deprived him of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and 2) that person was acting under color of state law. Buchanan-Moore v. Cty. of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Kramer v. Vill. of N. 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, 106 (1976)).

         B. The Plaintiff's Allegations

         The plaintiff in custody at the Green Bay Correctional Institution (GBCI). Dkt. No. 15 at 1. He has sued GBCI Security Director John Kind, GBCI Warden Scott Eckstein, Pete Ericksen, Corrections Complaint Examiner Brad Hompe, Department of Corrections Secretary Cindy O'Donnell, Officer Buhle and John and Jane Doe. Id.

         The plaintiff alleges that in 1995 he embraced Islam. Id. at 2. He states that Islamic law prohibits him from exposing his nakedness to anyone except his wife. Id. The plaintiff also states that under Islamic law, “males and females are identified and determined by the sex that Allah (i.e., the Creator) created them with at birth.” Id. He alleges that he has been in prison since 1994, and has never been strip searched by a female staff member. Id. at 3.

         According to the plaintiff, prison staff will forcibly strip-search a prisoner who refuses to voluntarily comply; they restrain the prisoner, cut off his clothes, and examine his naked body by touching him everywhere-“including under his penis, around his testicles, and in between his buttocks by spreading them.” Id. On the other hand, a prisoner who complies with a strip search receives instructions to remove his clothes and follow commands, such as “[o]pen your mouth. Show me your armpits. Show me behind your ears. Lift your penis. Now lift your sack (i.e., testicles). Alright turn around and bend over at the waist and spread your butt cheeks. Now show me the bottoms of your feet and wiggle your toes.” Id.

         The plaintiff says that on July 2, 2016, after a visit with a friend, he went to the strip search area to be strip searched under a policy that requires all prisoners to submit to a strip-search after a contact visit. Id. Several officers were conducting strip searches. Id. According to the plaintiff, when it was his turn to be strip searched, defendant Buhle, a female correctional officer, approached him and ordered him to strip. Id. The plaintiff states that he asked defendant Buhle how she was able to do that and she responded, “I'm a dude.” Id. The plaintiff says he looked at the other correctional officers, “to see if this was a prank, ” but that they avoided eye contact with him. Id. He alleges that at this point, he “started to panic because he knew that Officer Buhle was a female based on her female features (breasts, face, voice and demeanor) and that exposing his nakedness to her would be in violation of his Islamic beliefs, and also that if he refused to comply with the strip search he would be subjected to the “abuse and humiliation” of a non-compliance strip-search. Id. at 3-4. The plaintiff says that he repeated his question to defendant Buhle, that she answered the same way and his “panic intensified.” Id. at 4. The plaintiff alleges that he asked the nearby male officers if one of them would strip search him, “which one of them did, while she looked on and observed.” Id.

         The plaintiff indicates that “[i]t was later brought to [his] attention that Officer Buhle is a female claiming to be a male and therefore is afforded all of the duties that the male officers perform without discrimination.” Id. at 4.

         The plaintiff alleges that in anticipation of another encounter with defendant Buhle, he wrote defendants Kind and Eckstein and requested an “[e]xemption from exposing my nakedness to the opposite sex [ . . . ] because it is against Islam.” Id. On ...

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