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Headrick v. Godinez

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

December 26, 2013

TIMOTHY HEADRICK, # B-87996, Plaintiff,


MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court for a merits review of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Doc. 8) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Plaintiff originally filed this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on September 6, 2013, along with three other co-Plaintiffs. At that time, they were all convicted prisoners incarcerated at the Shawnee Correctional Center ("Shawnee"). Two of the original co-Plaintiffs remain in that action, which is pending under Case No. 13-cv-919-JPG in this Court.

On November 18, 2013, on Plaintiff's motion, his claims were severed into the present case (Doc. 1). Since the filing of the original complaint, Plaintiff had been transferred away from his fellow litigants to another prison within the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"). Due to a successful appeal of his criminal conviction, [1] Plaintiff was then transferred again to the St. Clair County Jail, where he is now detained.

When he requested severance of his claims, Plaintiff also sought leave to amend his complaint. Leave was granted (Doc. 1), and Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint (Doc. 8) on December 17, 2013.

An amended complaint supersedes and replaces the original complaint. See Flannery v. Recording Indus. Ass'n of Am., 354 F.3d 632, 638 n.1 (7th Cir. 2004) (citing Fuhrer v. Fuhrer, 292 F.2d 140, 144 (7th Cir. 1961)). Accordingly, three of the original Defendants (Sgt. Campbell, Sgt. Johnson, and Chaplain Williams) have been terminated from this case because the First Amended Complaint did not name them as parties or include any allegations against them.

The Amended Complaint

Plaintiff presents a single claim in his amended pleading. On October 10, 2012, Plaintiff arrived at Shawnee after a routine transfer (Doc. 8, p. 2). Upon his arrival, he was ordered inside the prison and was subjected to a strip search along with "a line of other inmates." Id. Plaintiff was naked, and was ordered to bend over, spread his buttocks, and lift his genitals for inspection. During this search, female nurses and staff were "walking around and looking at" the searches, as were other male officers. Id.

As Defendants, Plaintiff names IDOC Director Godinez, Shawnee Warden Martin, and Shawnee Officer Reed, who held the rank of "strip search officer" (Doc. 8, p. 2). However, he does not indicate in the body of his complaint whether or how any of these Defendants were involved in the October 10, 2012, search which gave rise to his claim.

Plaintiff asserts that "strip searches are not to be conducted in front of the opposite gender' or around anyone else but the inmate and the officer conducting the strip search." Id. In support of that proposition, he cites 725 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/103-1(d)(e), and (h). Further, he argues that the search violated his rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and from cruel and unusual punishment, under the Fourth and Eighth Amendments.

He seeks declaratory relief, an injunction to stop illegal strip searches of inmates, and compensatory and punitive damages.

Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

Under § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint, and to dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from an immune defendant. After fully considering the allegations in Plaintiff's amended complaint, the Court concludes that this action is subject to summary dismissal.

Strip searches of prisoners that are not related to legitimate security needs, or are conducted in a harassing manner in order to humiliate and inflict psychological pain, may be found unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. Mays v. Springborn, 719 F.3d 631, 634, (7th Cir. 2013) (group of inmates were strip searched together, gratuitously exposing prisoners' nude bodies to each other, while guards uttered demeaning comments); Calhoun v. DeTella, 319 F.3d 936, 939 (7th Cir. 2003) (a strip search conducted in a harassing manner intended to humiliate and inflict psychological pain could violate the Eighth Amendment); see also Meriwether v. Faulkner, 821 F.2d 408 (7th Cir. 1987) (allegation of calculated harassment by strip searches stated Eighth Amendment claim), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 935 (1987).

Plaintiff's factual allegations, however, fail to suggest that the October 10 strip search was conducted in such a manner as to violate his constitutional rights. He does not claim that the search involved any harassing, humiliating, or demeaning comments or behavior on the part of any prison staff. Nor does it appear that the search was performed with the intent to degrade him, or that it was unnecessary in light of legitimate security concerns. Indeed, Plaintiff states that the search was conducted immediately after he arrived at Shawnee from another correctional institution. The Court presumes that prison officials will have a legitimate security need to search inmates who are newly transferred into their custody, to prevent the introduction of contraband into the facility, and/or to protect the safety of prison staff and other inmates. Still, even if a valid ...

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