TAYLOR v. MCCRAY
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 4/25/2017. (tf, n.m.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-4513 (JBS-AMD)
Kyle Taylor, Plaintiff Pro Se
New Jersey State Prison
PO Box 861
Trenton, New Jersey 08625
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Kyle Taylor seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against McCray, first
name and position unknown, of Talbot Hall.1 Complaint, Docket
Per the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-
134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996)
(“PLRA”), district courts must review complaints in those civil
Talbot Hall is a halfway house. Halfway houses are considered
“institutional confinement” similar to prisons for purposes of §
1983. See Asquith v. Dep't of Corr., 186 F.3d 407, 411 (3d Cir.
actions in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis, see
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), seeks redress against a governmental
employee or entity,2 see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), or brings a claim
with respect to prison conditions, see 42 U.S.C. § 1997e. The
PLRA directs district courts to sua sponte dismiss any claim
that is frivolous, is 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. This action is subject
to sua sponte screening for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(b) because Plaintiff is a prisoner proceeding in
For the reasons set forth below, the Court will
dismiss the complaint without prejudice for failure to state a
claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).
To state a claim for relief under § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege, first, the violation of a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States and, second, that the
alleged deprivation was committed or caused by a person acting
under color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48
(1988); Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011). To
say that a person was “acting under color of state law” means
that the defendant in a § 1983 action “exercised power [that the
defendant] possessed by virtue of state law and made possible
only because the wrongdoer [was] clothed with the authority of
state law.” West, 487 U.S. at 49 (citation omitted). Plaintiff
does not provide any facts regarding McCray’s position at Talbot
Hall. In the event Plaintiff elects to amend his complaint, he
must set forth facts supporting an inference that McCray acted
under color of state law.
To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a
claim, the complaint must allege “sufficient factual matter” to
show that the claim is facially plausible. Fowler v. UPMS
Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).
“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.” Fair Wind Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308
n.3 (3d Cir. 2014). “[A] pleading that offers ‘labels or
conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007)).
Plaintiff states: “I was call [sic] by McCray to come
and go down stairs with my [sic] for a urine and that when this
took place of [sic] McCray asking me to drop my pants and
underwear down and turn around with my butt facing him and he
state to urine in the cup . . . .” Complaint ¶ 6.
Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged a Fourth
Amendment violation for an improper strip search. Under the
Fourth Amendment, inmates have a limited right of bodily privacy
“subject to reasonable intrusions necessitated by the prison
setting.” Parkell v. Danberg, 833 F.3d 313, 325 (3d Cir. 2016).
This right is very narrow, however. Id. at 326.
“The test of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment
. . . requires a balancing of the need for the particular search
against the invasion of personal rights that the search entails.
Courts must consider the scope of the particular intrusion, the
manner in which it is conducted, the justification for
initiating it, and the place in which it is conducted.” Bell v.
Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 559 (1979). A prisoner search policy is
constitutional if it strikes a reasonable balance between the
inmate's privacy and the needs of the institution. Parkell, 833
F.3d at 326 (citing Florence v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders of
Cty. of Burlington, 132 S. Ct. 1510, 1515, 1517 (2012)).
Plaintiff’s cursory allegations that the strip search
was illegal is insufficient to state a claim for relief. In the
absence of further facts regarding the circumstances of the
search, such as whether this urine test was random, conducted in
the view of other persons, or if Talbot Hall has policies
regarding conducting urine tests, the claim cannot proceed at
this time. Plaintiff may address these deficiencies in an
amended complaint, however.
Plaintiff further alleges the search constituted
sexual harassment. “While it is possible for sexual abuse of a
prisoner to violate the Eighth Amendment, a small number of
incidents in which a prisoner is verbally harassed, touched, and
pressed against without his consent do not amount to such a
violation.” Obiegbu v. Werlinger, 581 F. App'x 119, 121 (3d Cir.
2014) (internal citation omitted). “Rather, ‘isolated episodes
of harassment and touching . . . are despicable and, if true,
they may potentially be the basis of state tort actions. But
they do not involve a harm of federal constitutional proportions
as defined by the Supreme Court.’” Id. (quoting Boddie v.
Schnieder, 105 F.3d 857, 861 (2d Cir. 1997)) (omission in
Plaintiff only alleges one instance of alleged
harassment. He has therefore not sufficiently pled a federal
constitutional violation. To the extent he alleges a state law
claim, the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction
as the federal constitutional claims are being dismissed. 28
U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).
As Plaintiff may be able to allege facts that would
cure the deficiencies noted by the Court, he shall be given
leave to move to amend his complaint. Any motion to amend must
include a proposed amended complaint.
Plaintiff should note that when an amended complaint
is filed, the original complaint no longer performs any function
in the case and cannot be utilized to cure defects in the
amended complaint, unless the relevant portion is specifically
incorporated in the new complaint. 6 Wright, Miller & Kane,
Federal Practice and Procedure 1476 (2d ed. 1990) (footnotes
omitted). An amended complaint may adopt some or all of the
allegations in the original complaint, but the identification of
the particular allegations to be adopted must be clear and
explicit. Id. To avoid confusion, the safer course is to file an
amended complaint that is complete in itself. Id.
For the reasons stated above, the complaint is
dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim.
Plaintiff may move to amend his complaint within 30 days of the
date of this Opinion and Order.
An appropriate order follows.
April 25, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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