The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES MUNLEY, District Judge
Before the court for disposition is Defendant Bland Ricky
Roberts' (hereinafter "Roberts" or "defendant") motion to dismiss
plaintiffs' complaint. The matter has been fully briefed and
argued, rendering it ripe for disposition.
At all relevant times, Plaintiff Ashley Doe (hereinafter
"plaintiff" or "minor plaintiff") was a student at the East
Stroudsburg Area School District. Defendant Bland Ricky Roberts
(hereinafter "Roberts" or "defendant") was a coach/teacher at the
Defendant allegedly applied ointment to a rash on plaintiff's
stomach in the bathroom of the high school's suspension room.
Roberts asked the plaintiff to pull her pants down to ensure that
she did not have a rash anywhere else. After she started to pull
down her pants, he pulled them down further himself. He touched her on the pubic area. Based upon this incident,
plaintiff has suffered: embarrassment; humiliation; mental
anguish; psychological and emotional distress; severe and
continuing feelings of fear, anger and guilt; and severe and
continuing feelings of lack of self-worth and inadequacy.
Plaintiff has brought a civil rights suit pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn2 She has filed a six-count complaint alleging:
Count 1: Unreasonable Search and Seizures in violation of the
Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments; Count 2: violation of
substantive due process, constitutional right to privacy; Count
3: Assault (state law); Count 4: Battery (state law); Invasion of
Privacy (state law); and Count 6: Intentional Infliction of
Emotional Distress (state law). Defendant Roberts has filed a
motion to dismiss the complaint based upon Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, bringing the case to its
As this case is brought for constitutional violations we have
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall
have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."). We have
supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff's state law claims
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.
When a 12(b)(6) motion is filed, the sufficiency of a
complaint's allegations are tested. The issue is whether the
facts alleged in the complaint, if true, support a claim upon
which relief can be granted. In deciding a 12(b)(6) motion, the
court must accept as true all factual allegations in the
complaint and give the pleader the benefit of all reasonable
inferences that can fairly be drawn therefrom, and view them in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Morse v. Lower Merion Sch.
Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997).
Defendant raises the following issues in his motion to dismiss:
1) No search or seizure occurred, therefore, plaintiffs'
Fourth Amendment claim must be dismissed; 2) No medical treatment was
provided, therefore plaintiffs' claims must be dismissed; 3)
Plaintiffs' substantive due process and right to privacy claims
should be dismissed because in order to sustain this claim, the
defendant must engage in conduct that was so ill-conceived or
malicious that is shocks the conscience, and the plaintiffs have
not alleged such conduct; 4) Defendant is subject to qualified
immunity; 5) The suit against the defendant in his official
capacity should be dismissed as it is duplicative of the suit
against the defendant school district; 6) Common law immunity
applies; 7) The minor plaintiff's parents cannot assert a
violation of their rights based upon a violation of the
plaintiff's rights; and 8) Punitive damages are not properly
pled. We shall discuss these issues in seriatim.
I. Fourth Amendment Claim
Defendant's first argument is that plaintiff's Fourth Amendment
claim must be dismissed. The Fourth Amendment of the
United States Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable
searches and seizures.*fn3 The United States Supreme Court
has held that the Fourteenth Amendment extends this
constitutional guarantee to searches and seizures performed by
state officers, including public school officials. Vernonia
School Dist. 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646, 652 (1995). Defendant
claims that no search or seizure occurred in the instant case,
therefore, plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claim should be dismissed. After a careful review, we disagree.
Plaintiff argues that according to the complaint, Defendant
Roberts pulled the minor's pants down further than she had, in
order to examine her and to determine if she had a rash there.
Such an activity is clearly a search according to the plaintiff.
In support of her position, the plaintiff cites the following
cases: Vernonia School District 47 v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646
(1995); Good v. Dauphin County Social Services for Children and
Youth, 891 F.2d 1087 (3d Cir. 1989); Cornfield v. Consolidated
High School District No. 230, 991 F.2d 1316 (7th Cir. 1993);
and Tenenbaum v. Williams, 862 F. Supp. 962 (E.D.N.Y. 1994).
Defendant contends that these cases are all distinguishable
from the instant case. In all of these cases, the search was
performed for some investigatory purpose. For example, in
Veronia, at issue was urinalysis conducted to determine whether
students were using illegal drugs or alcohol, 515 U.S. at 649-50;
Good, involved a child who was strip searched to determine if
she had been beaten by her mother to determine if child abuse had
occurred, 891 F.2d at 1090; Cornfield included allegations of a
strip search performed to determine if a student possessed drugs,
991 F.2d at 1319; and in Tenenbaum, a gynecological exam of
student was performed to determine if she had been sexually
abused 862 F. Supp. at 967. Defendant argues that these cases
illustrate the requirement that a ...