United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
KARL W. BARTLESON, JR., a/k/a Carl W. Bartleson, Plaintiff,
SERGEANT S. PARKER and OFFICER J. BAILEY, Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER
HORN BOOM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Bartleson, Jr., has filed a pro se civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Bartleson is an
inmate who was previously held in the custody of the Fayette
County Detention Center (“FCDC”) in Lexington,
Kentucky pending trial on federal charges. Bartleson alleges
that two FCDC officers “strip” searched him and
twelve other inmates as a group in violation of his
constitutional rights. [R. 1] The Court has reviewed the
complaint,  but concludes that it must be dismissed
for the reasons stated below.
November 2017 through October 2018, Bartleson was held at
FCDC as a pretrial detainee. On October 11, 2018, a jury
convicted him of several federal drug trafficking charges
following a three-day trial. United States v.
Bartleson, No. 5: 17-CR-124-KKC (E.D. Ky. 2017); [R. 1,
76-84 therein] Two weeks later on October 23, 2018, Officer
J. Bailey “strip” searched Bartleson and twelve
other inmates in full view of each other and a security
camera. [R. 1 at 2, 3; R. 1-1 at 5] Sergeant S. Parker,
Bailey's supervisor, either participated directly in the
search and/or was negligent in his supervision of Bailey.
Id.; [R. 1-1 at 4-5] A female officer, Ms. Williams,
was present after the search. [R. 1-1 at 5] Bartleson felt
humiliated and experienced “emotional anguish and
distress” as a result. [R. 1-1 at 5, 6] Bartleson filed
a grievance regarding the incident and FCDC determined that
the officers violated jail policy regarding inmate searches.
[R. 1 at 6; R. 1-2 at 2] Citing several cases from the Sixth
Circuit, including Salem v. Mich. Dep't of
Corr., 643 Fed.Appx. 526, 530 (6th Cir. 2016)
(“... this court has held that strip searches performed
in view of other inmates without a legitimate penological
justification violates inmates' clearly established
Fourth Amendment rights.”), Bartleson contends that the
officers violated his rights under the Fourth and Eighth
Amendments and seeks compensatory and punitive damages. [R. 1
at 4, 8]
Court will dismiss the complaint for two reasons. First,
Bartleson failed to properly exhaust his administrative
remedies. Federal law requires an inmate to exhaust his
administrative remedies by fully utilizing the prison's
inmate grievance system before filing suit to assert a civil
claim regarding the conditions of his confinement. 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(a); Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 211
(2007) (“There is no question that exhaustion is
mandatory under the PLRA and that unexhausted claims cannot
be brought in court.”). Bartleson did file an inmate
grievance regarding the search. [R. 1-3 at 3] But that grievance
complained only that the search was conducted in front of a
security camera; it did not allege or complain that it was
conducted in front of other inmates. Id. While a
grievance need not assert particular legal theories for
relief, it must advise prison officials of the facts upon
which the grievance is based. Johnson v. Testman,
380 F.3d 691, 697 (2d Cir. 2004) (“.... In order to
exhaust, therefore, inmates must provide enough information
about the conduct of which they complain to allow prison
officials to take appropriate responsive measures.”);
Strong v. David, 297 F.3d 646, 650 (7th Cir. 2002)
(“... a grievance suffices if it alerts the prison to
the nature of the wrong for which redress is sought.”).
And filing a grievance about the presence of a
camera during the search does not suffice to exhaust
a claim based upon the presence of other inmates
during the search, a wholly different complaint about the
manner in which the search was conducted. Johnson v.
Woodford, No. CV 04-05995-GHK, 2010 WL 4007308, at *4
(C.D. Cal. April 20, 2010) (“Where one set of facts and
circumstances gives rise to more than one potential claim,
the plaintiff cannot exhaust all of the potential claims by
merely exhausting one such claim.”). Here,
Bartleson's failure to even mention in his grievance that
he was “strip” searched in front of other inmates
renders his present claim in that regard unexhausted.
Johnson v. Johnson, 385 F.3d 503, 517-18 (5th Cir.
2004) (inmate who exhausted claim that he was assaulted based
upon his sexual orientation could not pursue claim that the
same assault was based upon his race where not mentioned in
grievance); Valienterbanales v. Robinson, No.
7:06cv00327, 2006 WL 1540995, at *1-2 (W.D. Va. May 31, 2006)
(prisoner's grievance requesting reinstatement to prior
job failed to exhaust claim that he was terminated in the
first instance on account of his race). Because
Bartleson's grievance did not give prison officials
notice of the conduct about which he now complains, his
claims are unexhausted and must be dismissed. Pruitt v.
Holland, No. 10-CV-111-HRW, 2011 WL 13653, at *4-6 (E.D.
Ky. Jan. 4, 2011).
while Bartleson alleges that he was humiliated and
embarrassed by the search, he does not allege that he
suffered any physical injury as a result. Federal law bars
damage claims asserted by prisoners for purely emotional
harm. 28 U.S.C. § 1997e(e) (“No Federal civil
action may be brought by a prisoner ... for mental or
emotional injury suffered while in custody without a prior
showing of physical injury.”). The statute prohibits a
constitutional claim arising from a “strip”
search where the search does not cause physical injury.
Jackson v. Herrington, 393 Fed.Appx. 348, 354-55
(6th Cir. 2010) (“... absent injury related to the
strip search, his Eighth Amendment claim is not cognizable
under § 1997e(e).”); Adams v.
Rockafellow, 66 Fed.Appx. 584, 586 (6th Cir. 2003)
(same); Bey v. Garber, No. 99-1471, 2000 WL 658721,
at *1 (6th Cir. May 12, 2000) (same). While the humiliation
Bartleson may have suffered is regrettable, federal law
provides that it is not a sufficient foundation upon which to
base a claim under § 1983.
it is ORDERED as follows:
1. The Court DISMISSES Bartleson's
complaint [R. 1], WITH
2. The Court STRIKES this matter from the
active docket. This the 15th day of August, 2019.
 The Court reviews complaints filed by
all plaintiffs proceeding as paupers, 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2), and prisoners suing government officials, 28
U.S.C. § 1915A. The Court must dismiss any claim that is
frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. Hill v.
Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). During
this review the Court accepts all of Bartleson's
non-conclusory factual allegations as true and liberally
construes legal claims in his favor. Davis v. Prison
Health Servs., 679 F.3d 433, 437-38 (6th Cir. 2012). The
description of events that follows sets out Bartleson's
allegations as fact.
 Bartleson did not appeal further after
his initial grievance was considered “founded” at
the initial level of review. The Court does not address
whether that failure also ...