United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
RICHARD CAPUTO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Riley's Complaint (ECF No. 1) is before the Court for
preliminary screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The Complaint will be
dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted. However, Mr. Riley will be granted the
opportunity to file an amended complaint.
Standard of Review
litigant seeks to proceed in forma pauperis, without
the prepayment of fees, 28 U.S.C. § 1915 requires the
court to screen the complaint. Likewise, when a prisoner
seeks redress from a government defendant in a civil action,
whether proceeding in forma pauperis or not, the
court must screen the complaint. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A. Both 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and §
1915(A) give the court the authority to dismiss a complaint
if it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on
which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. § 11915(e)(2)(B)(i) - (iii); 28 U.S.C. §
complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis either
in fact or law. See Mitchell v. Horn, 318 F.3d 523,
530 (3d Cir. 2003) (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490
U.S. 319, 327-28, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 1832-33, 104 L.Ed.2d 338
(1989)). In deciding whether the complaint fails to state a
claim on which relief may be granted, the court employs the
standard used to analyze motions to dismiss under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). See Allah v. Seivehing, 229
F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000). Under Rule 12(b)(6), we must
"accept all factual allegations as true, construe the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and
determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the
complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief."
Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir.
2009) (quoting Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515
F.3d 224 231 (3d Cir. 2008)). The court may also rely on
exhibits attached to the complaint and matters of public
record. Sands v. McCormick, 502 F.3d 263, 268 (3d
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a), a complaint need only "include a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant
fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which
it rests." "[T]he factual allegations of a
complaint 'must be enough to raise a right to Relief
above the speculative level' and the complaining party
must offer 'more than labels and conclusions' or
'formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action." W. Run Student Hous. Assocs., LLC. v.
Huntingdon Nat'l Bank, 712 F.3d 165, 169 (3d Cir.
2013) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)).
Legal conclusions are "not entitled to the assumption of
truth." Bistrian v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352, 365 (3d
Cir. 2012) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)).
pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent
standard than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys and are
to be liberally construed. See Erickson v. Partus,
551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081
(2007); Giles v. Kearney, 571 F.3d 318, 322 (3d Cir.
2009). Pro se litigants are to be granted leave to
file a curative amended complaint even when a plaintiff does
not seek leave to amend, unless such an amendment would be
inequitable or futile. See Philips, 515 F.3d at
245-46 (citing Alston v. Parker, 363 F.3d 229, 235
(3d Cir. 2004)). However, a complaint that sets forth facts
which affirmatively demonstrate that the plaintiff has no
right to recover is properly dismissed without leave to
amend. Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital, 293 F.3d
103, 106 (3d Cir. 2002).
Allegations in the Complaint
Riley is a state inmate currently housed at SCI-Coal
Township. The allegations of his Complaint relate to his
confinement at SCI-Camp Hill's Special Management Unit
(SMU). (ECF No. 1, Compl.) Named as Defendants are the
following Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) staff,
employed at SCI-Camp Hill: CO Kuzar; Corrections Officer (CO)
John Doe; Unit Manager (UM) Jennifer Digby; CO Alianiello; CO
A.S. Huber; and Superintendent Laurel Harry. All Defendants
are sued in their individual and official capacities.
SMU Strip Search Policy
times relevant to this Complaint, Mr. Riley, an orthodox
"Sunniyy Muslim", was housed in SCI-Camp Hill's
SMU, a level 5 housing unit. Mr. Riley was subject to a strip
search prior to using the shower, mini-law library, and an
exercise unit. He was strip searched again upon his return
from any of these areas/activities. The strip searches were
conducted pursuant to DOC policy 6.5.1, the Administration of
Security Level 5 Housing Units.
Kuzar and Digby, supervisors in the SMU, directed the
enforcement of the strip search policy and threatened denial
of access to showers, the mini-law library and exercise for
those who were non-compliant to the strip search policy.
Strip searches were conducted in open shower areas and cells.
Strip searches were conducted without any particularized
justification for the search. Mr. Riley asserts strip
searches were conducted "as part of the punishment, to
discourage inmates from utilizing the shower, mini-law
library, and exercise". (Id., p. 2.)
a strip search Mr. Riley was required to remove his jumpsuit,
undergarments, and socks. He was required to spread his
buttocks, lift his penis and scrotum, and remain in this
manner until staff completed their visual search. Mr. Riley
argues that "Islaam prohibits men from uncovering
one's unlawful nakedness in front of those who are
prohibited to look at it, other than their wives."
(Id., p. 3.) Mr. Ritey filed grievance 605300 on
December 30, 2015 challenging the SMU strip search policy
claiming it unreasonable and that it placed a
"substantial burden on his I religious practices".