United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Carlson Magistrate Judge
William W. Caldwell United States District Judge.
Introduction and Procedural History
case is here on remand from the Third Circuit. The pro se
plaintiff, Corey Bracey, is currently an inmate at
SCI-Greene, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, but was formerly housed
at SCI-Smithfield when the events giving rise to the action
arose. Plaintiff was ordered in a state-court civil
proceeding to undergo testing for HIV and Hepatitis, which he
alleges resulted in the forceable extraction of a blood
sample. He filed this civil-rights action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 making federal and state-law claims challenging
the legality of the proceedings. In an amended complaint, he
named as defendants Huntingdon County and Stewart L. Kurtz, a
judge on the Court of Common Pleas of Huntingdon County. He
also named “the DOC Defendants”: the Pennsylvania
Department of Corrections (DOC); Adam Park, a Smithfield
correctional officer; and Travis S. Anderson, an attorney who
represented the DOC and Park in the civil proceedings.
7, 2015, upon the magistrate judge's report and
recommendation, we dismissed the claims against Judge Kurtz
and Huntingdon County. In the meantime, the DOC Defendants
filed a motion to dismiss raising two issues: (1) the statute
of limitations; and (2) collateral estoppel, also known as
issue preclusion. On July 13, 2015, the magistrate judge
filed a report (Doc. 31) asserting that the following
grounds, which he raised sua sponte, justified dismissal: (1)
the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, see Gary v.
Braddock Cemetery, 517 F.3d 195, 200 (3d Cir. 2008),
deprived the court of jurisdiction to entertain the case; (2)
the court should abstain from granting any injunctive relief
under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971); (3) the
individual defendants are entitled to qualified immunity; and
(4) the DOC is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. The
magistrate judge also agreed with the DOC Defendants that the
case was barred by collateral estoppel but thought it was
unnecessary to consider the statute-of-limitations defense
since “multiple alternate grounds” justified
dismissal of the amended complaint. (Doc. 31, magistrate
judge's report at p. 24 n.3).
filed objections to reliance on the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine, Younger abstention, qualified immunity,
and to collateral estoppel. He filed no objections to the
conclusion that the DOC was entitled to Eleventh Amendment
August 6, 2015, we dismissed the claims against the DOC
Defendants. We did so on the sole ground that the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine barred the case. We did not
look at the other grounds the magistrate judge discussed.
appealed, but only the order dismissing the claims against
the DOC Defendants. The Third Circuit stated that the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine did not apply and remanded
the case so that we could consider the magistrate judge's
alternate grounds for dismissal. See Bracey v. Huntingdon
County, ___ F.App'x ___, ___, 2017 WL 2787619, at *3
(3d Cir. 2017)(nonprecedential). Since the order dismissing
Huntingdon County and Judge Kurtz was not appealed, as the
Third Circuit recognized, the case now proceeds only against
the DOC, Park and Anderson. Id. at ___ n.2, 2017 WL
2787619, at *2 n.1.
Standard of Review
reviewing the magistrate judge's July 13, 2015, report to
see if any of the remaining grounds require dismissal of the
action. In reviewing a magistrate judge's report, the
court must conduct a de novo review of those
portions to which objections are made. Snyder v.
Bender, 548 F.App'x 767, 770 (3d Cir. 2013)
(nonprecedential)(citing Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5,
7 (3d Cir. 1984); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)). Where no party
has objected, the court needs only review those portions of
the report for clear error or manifest injustice. See
Smith v. Lindsey, No. 13-CV-2914, 2015 WL 136639, at *2
(M.D. Pa. Jan. 7, 2015)(Caldwell, J.). Nonetheless, even
where no objections are made, the court can sua
sponte conduct a de novo review of any portion
of a magistrate judge's report. See Thomas v.
Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 154, 106 S.Ct. 466, 474, 88 L.Ed.2d
435 (1985)(explaining that while 28 U.S.C. § 636
“does not require the judge to review an issue de
novo if no objections are filed, it does not preclude
further review by the district judge, sua sponte or
at the request of a party, under a de novo or any
Defendants' filed a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). In considering a motion to dismiss, “[w]e
‘accept all factual allegations as true, construe the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and
determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the
complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to
relief.'” Byers v. Intuit, Inc., 600 F.3d
286, 291 (3d Cir. 2010)(quoted case omitted). A complaint has
to plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974, 167
L.Ed.2d 929 (2007).
pertinent part, the Amended Complaint alleges as follows. On
November 17, 2012, while he was incarcerated at
SCI-Smithfield, Plaintiff had a physical confrontation with
correctional officers, one of whom was Defendant Park. (Doc.
5, Am. Compl. ¶¶ 8 and 9). Plaintiff received
lacerations to his hands and wrists while he was being
handcuffed. (Id. ¶ 9). Park claimed that he
suffered an open puncture wound to his hand. (Id.
¶ 10). On November 19, 2012, Smithfield medical
personnel asked Plaintiff to consent to HIV and Hepatitis
testing, but were evasive and vague about why they wanted the
tests. (Id. ¶ 11). Plaintiff refused.
thereafter, Plaintiff was served with a civil complaint
initiated in the Court of Common Pleas of Huntingdon County
by the DOC and Park. (Id. ¶ 13). The complaint
sought blood testing for HIV and Hepatitis under the
Confidentiality of HIV-Related Information Act (the HIV Act),
35 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 7601-7612, and the release of
test results. (Id.). The complaint alleged that