MCKENZIE v. WATSON
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 2/2/17. (jbk, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
CIV. NO. 16-5029 (RMB)
RENÉE MARIE BUMB, U.S. District Judge
This matter comes before the Court upon Plaintiff’s submission
of a prisoner civil rights complaint (Compl., ECF No. 1), and an
application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 1-2.) Plaintiff
is confined in Talbot Hall1 in Kearny, New Jersey. (Id., ECF No. 1
Plaintiff has established his inability to pay the filing fee,
and his IFP application will be granted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
SCREENING PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A
Talbot Hall is a residential assessment and treatment center whose
residents are referred through the New Jersey Department of
After Plaintiff pays the filing fee or is granted in forma
pauperis status, the Court is required to review a prisoner’s civil
rights complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A.
Court must dismiss any claims that are: (1) frivolous or malicious;
(2) fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (3) seek
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Plaintiff alleges the following in the Statement of Claims
section of his Complaint:
I was call by Watson and one other Talbot Hall
Staffs to give a urine. Once I was down stair
with the two I was given a cup and was told to
drop my pant and underwear and turn around with
my butt facing the two staffs and urine in the
(Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶6.) Plaintiff alleged his constitutional rights
were violated, but he did not identify the right. (Id., ¶5.) The Court
assumes Plaintiff intended to raise a Fourth Amendment claim for
unreasonable search and seizure.
Standard of Review
A pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
8(a)(2). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007)). “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.”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.)
“[A] court must accept as true all of the allegations contained
in a complaint.” Id. A court need not accept legal conclusions as
true. Id. Legal conclusions, together with threadbare recitals of
the elements of a cause of action, do not suffice to state a claim.
Id. Thus, “a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin
by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than
conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. at
679. “While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a
complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Id. If
a complaint can be remedied by an amendment, a district court may
not dismiss the complaint with prejudice, but must permit the
amendment. Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital, 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d
Plaintiff is confined in Talbot Hall, a halfway house. Halfway
houses are institutional confinement similar to prison. Asquith v.
Dept. of Corr., 186 F.3d 407, 411 (3d Cir. 1999). The Fourth Amendment
proscription against unreasonable search and seizure applies to
bodily searches in prison. Parkell v. Danburg, 833 F.3d 313, 325 (3d
Cir. 2016). The contours of a prisoner’s Fourth Amendment rights are
very narrow. Id. at 326. Courts must balance “̔the need for the
particular search against the invasion of personal rights that the
search entails.’” Id. (quoting Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 559
(1979). “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.” Id. A prisoner search
policy is constitutional if it strikes a reasonable balance between
the inmate’s privacy and the needs of the institution. Id. (citing
Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington, 132
S.Ct. 1510, 1523 (2012)).
Plaintiff has not clearly indicated whether the drug test here
was random or based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause. He
has not identified whether his consent to random drug testing by
direct observation was a condition of confinement in Talbot Hall or
whether he is aware of any justification by the institution for
requiring the type of drug test he underwent. Although Plaintiff
indicated that the test took place downstairs, he did not describe
whether it was conducted in open view of any persons other than the
Supervision Program, 651 F. App’x 136, 139 (3d Cir. 2016) (holding
direct observation method of drug testing was a reasonable search
under the Fourth Amendment in the context of the New Jersey Intensive
prejudice because Plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts for the
Court to determine whether the drug test violated the reasonableness
requirement of the Fourth Amendment.
Plaintiff will be permitted
to amend his complaint to cure this deficiency.
An appropriate order follows.
Dated:February 2, 2017
s/Renée Marie Bumb________
RENÉE MARIE BUMB
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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