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Foster v. Helder

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division

April 17, 2019

RODNEY E. FOSTER PLAINTIFF
v.
SHERIFF TIM HELDER, Washington County, Arkansas; and SMART JAIL, INC. DEFENDANTS

          OPINION AND ORDER

          P. K. HOLMES, III U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Rodney E. Foster filed this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. Plaintiff is incarcerated in the Washington County Detention Center (“WCDC”). The Plaintiff names as Defendants Sheriff Tim Helder and Smart Jail, Inc. (“Smart Jail”).

         The case is before the Court for preservice screening under the provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court has the obligation to screen any complaint in which a prisoner seeks to proceed in forma pauperis. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must determine whether the Complaint should be served on the Defendants.

         I. BACKGROUND

         According to the allegations of the Complaint (ECF No. 1), Smart Jail was allowed to place cameras in the barracks. According to Plaintiff, the cameras were placed in such a way that they recorded the inmates while they were in the shower.

         Plaintiff indicates he has also asserted an official capacity claim. When asked to describe the custom or policy that caused the violation of his constitutional rights, Plaintiff alleges Sheriff Helder failed to give minimal oversight to private contractors thereby allowing the Plaintiff's privacy rights to be violated.

         As relief, Plaintiff asks for compensatory and punitive damages. He also asks that the camera angles be changed so that other inmates do not get filmed while in the shower.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under the PLRA, the Court must screen the case prior to service of process being issued. The Court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion of it, if it contains claims that: (1) are frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or (2) seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         A claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A claim fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if it does not allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “In evaluating whether a pro se plaintiff has asserted sufficient facts to state a claim, we hold ‘a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded ... to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Jackson v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537, 541 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)).

         However, mere conclusory allegations with no supporting factual averments are insufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be based. Allen v. Purkett, 5 F.3d 1151, 1153 (8th Cir. 1993); Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004). “[A] pro se plaintiff requires no special legal training to recount the facts surrounding his alleged injury, and he must provide such facts if the court is to determine whether he makes out a claim on which relief can be granted.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991) (citations omitted).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff claims that the placement of video recording surveillance cameras in such a way as to allow the recording of inmates in the showers violates his right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment. It is true that prisoners' constitutional rights survive incarceration; however, these rights are subject to the requirements of order and security. Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 823 (1974). Prisoners are “accorded those rights not fundamentally inconsistent with imprisonment itself or incompatible with the objectives of incarceration.” Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 523 (1984)(citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         In Hudson, the Court discussed a prisoner's right to ...


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