United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
ROBERT D. ROPER, Plaintiff,
MR. JOHNSON, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER [RESOLVING ECF Nos.
1, 3, and 4]
Y. Pearson United States District Judge.
se Plaintiff Robert Roper (“Roper”) is a
state prisoner presently incarcerated at the Ohio State
Penitentiary (“OSP”). ECF No. 1 at PageID #:
2. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against defendants Correctional Officer Johnson
(“Johnson”) and Institutional Inspector Wolfe
(“Wolfe”). Id. at PageID #: 3.
Roper's motion for appointment of counsel (ECF No.
3) is denied and his motion to introduce documents in
support of his Complaint (ECF No. 4) is granted.
reasons that follow, this action is dismissed.
to the Complaint, Johnson and his partner, Cashon (who is not
a defendant in his action), searched Plaintiff's cell at
OSP on April 23, 2019 at 9:40 a.m. ECF No. 1 at PageID #:
3. When Plaintiff returned to his cell, he discovered
that his toothbrushes were discolored and smelled like bodily
fluids, his clothes were covered in shampoo and salt and
pepper, and his boxers had been wiped in his hair grease.
Id. Plaintiff notified Lt. Santa about this
incident. Id. Later that day, Johnson stopped by
Plaintiff's cell and allegedly yelled “I don't
feel bad for rapists.” Id. at PageID #: 4.
Roper alleges that Johnson's statement “put a
target” on him and subjected him to violent acts and
harassment from other inmates. Id. Plaintiff filed
an informal complaint with Mr. Remisa, unit manager, and
Defendant Wolfe filed a complaint on the institutional
record, but ignored his request for a grievance “for a
week, ” then ignored new claims in favor of focusing on
prior complaints, thus allegedly hindering Roper in the
grievance process. Id.
claims that Johnson searched his cell again on March 23, 2019
and April 26, 2019, and items went missing and the contents
of his cell were disturbed. Id. at PageID #: 4-5. He
claims that Johnson “had intentions to search his cell
every time he left.” Id. at PageID #: 5.
Plaintiff grieved the missing items, which Johnson denied
taking. Id. at PageID #: 4-5. Roper filed another
grievance on May 5, 2019 and included his complaint that
Johnson had told other inmates on the block that he was a
rapist. Id. at PageID #: 5. Wolfe discussed
Roper's grievance with Plaintiff on May 13, 2019.
Id. at PageID #: 5-6. Plaintiff claims that during
this discussion, Johnson searched his cell again and took
legal mail and a fan, which Johnson denied regarding the mail
but claimed the fan was contraband. Id. at PageID #:
6. According to the Complaint, Wolfe attempted to discourage
Roper's grievances by “dragging out the
process.” Id. Plaintiff claims that he filed a
grievance on May 20, 2019, which Wolfe denied because
Plaintiff had not correctly filed his complaint and rejecting
Plaintiff's claims. Id. Roper states that
Johnson's harassment caused him to seek medical help due
to complications of high blood pressure triggered by the
stress of Johnson's daily harassment. Id.
claims that Defendants' actions constitute cruel and
unusual punishment. For relief, Plaintiff seeks a declaration
that Defendants violated his rights under the United States
Constitution and seeks punitive damages in the amount of five
million dollars against each defendant. ECF No. 1-1 at PageID
#: 9; ECF No. 1 at PageID #: 7.
Standard of Review
pro se pleadings are liberally construed,
Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir.
2011), the “lenient treatment generally accorded to
pro se litigants has limits.” Pilgrim v.
Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996) (citation
omitted). Federal district courts are expressly required
under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) to screen and
dismiss before service any in forma pauperis civil action,
and any complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from
governmental officers and employees, that the court
determines is frivolous or 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. To survive a
dismissal for failure to state a claim, a pro se
“complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Hill v. Lappin, 630
F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that the dismissal
standard articulated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662 (2009) and Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544 (2007) governs dismissals under § 1915(e)(2)(B)).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution
and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged
deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of
state law.” Salehpour v. Univ. of Tennessee,
159 F.3d 199, 206 (6th Cir. 1998) (internal quotations and
citations omitted). Even assuming the truth of Roper's
allegations and liberally construing the Complaint, he fails
to allege a plausible § 1983 claim.
plausibly allege an Eighth Amendment claim for cruel and
unusual punishment, an inmate must show that he has been
deprived “of the minimal civilized measure of
life's necessities.” Rhodes v. Chapman,
452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Harsh and restrictive prison
conditions, alone, are insufficient to state a claim because
such conditions “are part of the penalty that criminal
offenders pay for their offenses against society.”
Id.; see also Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S.
1, 9 (1992) (“Because routine discomfort is part of the
penalty that criminal offenders pay for their offenses
against society, only those deprivations denying the minimal
civilized measure of life's necessities are sufficiently
grave to form the basis of an Eighth Amendment
violation.” (internal quotation marks and citations
alleges that Johnson searched his cell and destroyed his
personal property to harass him, constituting cruel and
unusual punishment. This claim fails. Cell searches are a
critical part of prison security and prisoners do not have a
protected liberty interest to be free from searches of their
cells. Wiley v. Kentucky Dep't of Corr., No.
CIV. A. 11-97-HRW, 2012 WL 5878678, at *11 (E.D. Ky. Nov. 21,
2012) (citing among authority Hudson v. Palmer, 468
U.S. 517 (1984)). Nor do prisoners have a legitimate
expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment.