United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Terrance Thomas, No. 655343B Bayside State Prison Plaintiff
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
Terrance Thomas, a prisoner presently confined at Bayside
State Prison in Leesburg, New Jersey, seeks to bring a claim
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the Warden John
Cuzzupe, Captain Robert Reilly, and Lt. Kathy Crawford
regarding a group strip search that occurred at the Salem
County Correctional Facility located in Woodstown, New
Jersey. See ECF No. 1.
time, the Court must review the Complaint, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) to determine whether it should be
dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will
dismiss the Complaint without prejudice for failure to state
a claim, with leave to amend granted. 28 U.S.C. §
alleges that “on 8-24-2017, I was ordered to be strip
searched in the gym, by C/O Iveson, who told me Capt. Robert
Reilly gave the order, for which the order came from the
warden of the jail for the strip searches to be done by the
C/Os. This strip search was done with the A2 pod together in
a group setting. I feel I was comprised of my constitutional
rights of being strip searched in a group setting. I felt
deprived of my dignity as a man and overall disrespected by
public servants here in the facility.” ECF No. 1 at
5-6. As to Lt. Crawford, Plaintiff alleges that “Lt.
answered the grievance, and didn't know the policies or
the [illegible] of the 10A, or just didn't know, inmates
are not to be searched in a group together. Stating under
special conditions, it's permitted to do so. They know
[sic] longer search inmates here at this jail like that now
that they understand the 10A concerning this matter.”
Id. at 4. Plaintiff requests for relief $5, 000 for
the wrong that happened to him as well as an apology in
writing from the warden. Id. at 6-7.
1915(e)(2) requires a court to review complaints prior to
service in cases in which a plaintiff is proceeding in
forma pauperis. The Court must 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 proceeding in forma pauperis.
See ECF No. 2 (granting in forma pauperis
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). “‘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) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009)). “[A] pleading that offers ‘labels or
conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
Complaint must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted. In order to state a claim
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff must show
that “‘(1) the conduct complained of was
committed by a person acting under color of state law; and
(2) that the conduct deprived a person of rights, privileges,
or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the
United States.'” Calhoun v. Young, 288
Fed.Appx. 47, 49 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Robb v. City of
Phila., 733 F.2d 286, 290-91 (3d Cir. 1984)).
Fourth Amendment protects “[t]he right of the people to
be secure in their persons . . . against unreasonable
searches and seizures.” U.S. Const. amend. IV. Pretrial
detainees and convicted prisoners, however, only have limited
rights under the Fourth Amendment. See Bell v.
Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 558 (1979) (inmates “retain
some Fourth Amendment rights upon commitment to a corrections
facility . . . .”); see also Parkell, 833 F.3d
at 324 (stating “the contours of prisoners' Fourth
Amendment rights . . . are very narrow.”); Covino
v. Patrissi, 967 F.2d 73, 78 (2d Cir. 1992) (prisoners
“retain a limited right to bodily privacy”);
Russell v. City of Phila., 428 Fed.Appx. 174, 177
(3d Cir. 2011) (prisoner could state a Fourth Amendment claim
based on a strip and cavity search).
determining whether a particular strip search policy or
action is reasonable, courts must balance an inmate's
constitutional right to privacy and the needs of the
institution to maintain safety and security. See
Florence, 566 U.S. at 326- 27; see also
Parkell, 833 F.3d at 326. Specifically, “[c]ourts
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, 441 U.S. at 559. At this point, the Court
cannot assess whether Plaintiff's claim is plausible
because he has not alleged sufficient factual allegations to
state a claim under the Fourth Amendment. Although Plaintiff
alleges that he was strip searched with the rest of the A2
pod in the gym of the correctional facility, he does not
provide any other factual allegations that would, if true,
demonstrate that the search was unreasonable and therefore,
Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted. Absent the factual allegations of the sort
detailed in Bell this Court is unable, even
accepting his allegations as true, to assess the viability of
his Fourth Amendment claim.
“plaintiffs who file complaints subject to dismissal
under [§ 1915] should receive leave to amend unless
amendment would be inequitable or futile.” Grayson
v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cir.
2002). The Court will grant leave to amend in order to ...