United States District Court, D. New Jersey
McNULTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Darryl Davis, is subject to commitment under the New Jersey
Sexually Violent Predator Act at the Special Treatment Unit
("STU"), in Avenel, New Jersey. He is proceeding
pro se with a civil rights complaint. This Court previously
granted Mr. Davis leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (DE 2.)
Court must now review the complaint, under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B), 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 suit. For the
following reasons, portions of the complaint will be
dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim, and
the remainder of the complaint will be permitted to proceed
at this time.
BACKGROUND AND ALLEGATIONS
complaint lists as defendants STU Administrator J___
Slaughter, STU Associate Administrator Keisha Fisher, STU
Assistant Superintendent C___ Raupp, STU search-plan
coordinator, Major Colm Gamba, Sergeant T___ Orange, Senior
Corrections Officer ("SCO") ___ Scatino, and
Lieutenant John Doe. (Compl., DE 1, ¶¶ 7-27.) Mr.
Davis explains that he is suing all defendants in their
individual capacities, and is suing Administrator Slaughter,
Associate Administrator Fisher, and Assistant Superintendent
Raupp for injunctive relief in their official capacities.
(Id. ¶¶ 28-29.)
Davis alleges that, on September 26, 2018, STU staff found
contraband, which Mr. Davis identifies as a small amount of
tobacco, in his cell. (DE 1 ¶ 32 & n.1.) He explains
that he was immediately "pat searched" and then
taken to the STU medical department, where a "BOSS
chair" was used to conduct a non-intrusive
search. (Id. ¶ 33-34.) Mr. Davis was
then taken to a different cell, where Sergeant Orange,
accompanied by SCO Scatino, and another, unidentified
officer, ordered Mr. Davis to strip for another search.
(Id. ¶¶ 34-39.) He contends that, while he
was compelled to completely disrobe for the strip search, he
was in view of other STU residents. (Id. ¶ 39.)
Davis remained in that cell on temporary close custody
("TCC") status for the next several days. Mr.
Davis explains that, while he was in the TCC cell, he was
deprived of all possessions except a change of clothes and
set of sheets and was not allowed to shower, make telephone
calls, or receive his prescribed sex-offender treatment.
(Id. ¶¶ 41-43.) Mr. Davis alleges that he
was informed on September 28, 2018, that he was cleared to
return to general population and assigned specific
programming to address inappropriate behavior. (Id.
¶ 45 & n.3.) Mr. Davis alleges that TCC status is
not supposed to last more than 72 hours, and that, as he
approached that duration, around lunch time on September 29,
2018, he asked an unidentified sergeant when he would be
released, but was told, '"[M]oves are up to the
Lieutenant.'" (Id. ¶¶ 46-47.) He
alleges that, around 5:30 p.m. the same day, he inquired
again as to the timing of his release and that non-party
Sergeant T___ Walker "emphatically responded that
'no one is moving today.'" (Id. ¶
48.) Sergeant Orange apparently ordered Mr. Davis released
from TCC at 8:00 a.m. the following day, 91 hours and 20
minutes after he was placed there. (Id. ¶ 50
& n.4.) Mr. Davis alleges that, around the same time,
other STU residents were properly released from TCC within
the 72-hour period. (Id. ¶ 51.)
Davis subsequently commenced this civil rights action. He
alleges that Orange, Scatino, Gamba, and Lieutenant Doe
violated his Fourth Amendment rights by submitting him to an
improper strip search. (DE 1 ¶¶ 54-69.) He further
contends that Gamba, Orange, and Doe violated various
constitutional provisions by subjecting him to unduly
prolonged TCC placement in contravention of facility
regulations and while other, similarly situated residents
were timely released. (Id. ¶¶ 81-103.) Mr.
Davis alleges that Administrator Slaughter, Associate
Administrator Fisher, and Assistant Superintendent Raupp
should have known of these acts, yet failed to intervene, and
thus claims they bear supervisory liability. (See
Id. ¶¶ 70-80, 104-115.) He contends that these
events additionally violated his rights under the New Jersey
Constitution and the statutorily established rights of mental
patients. (See Id. ¶¶ 116-125.) The
complaint demands declaratory judgment, injunctive relief,
compensatory damages, and punitive damages.
the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. 104-134,
§§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (Apr. 26,
1996) ("PLRA"), district courts must review
complaints when the plaintiff is proceeding in forma
pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The PLRA
directs district courts to sua sponte dismiss claims that are
frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. Id.
legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to
state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)
is the same as that for dismissing a complaint pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)." Schreane
v. Seana, 506 Fed.Appx. 120, 122 (3d Cir. 2012). The
Supreme Court has explained that, "[f]o 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 Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see
also Fowler v. UPMC 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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678; see also Fair Wind Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster,
764 F.3d 303, 308 n.3 (3d Cir. 2014). "A pleading that
offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do."' Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
pleadings, as always, will be liberally construed. See
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Glunk v.
Noone, 689 Fed.Appx. 137, 139 (3d Cir. 2017).
Nevertheless, "pro se litigants still must allege
sufficient facts in their complaints to support a
claim." Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704
F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013).