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Merritt v. Camden County Jail

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 2, 2017

KAHLEAH VASHAWNNA MERRITT, Plaintiff,
v.
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL, Defendant.

          Kahleah Vashawnna Merritt, Plaintiff Pro Se

          OPINION

          JEROME B. SIMANDLE, Chief U.S. District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Kahleah Vashawnna Merritt seeks to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden County Jail (“CCJ”). Complaint, Docket Entry 1.

         At this 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 with prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that she was confined in the CCJ from August 31, 2012 to September 7, 2012. Complaint § III. She states: “I had to sleep on the cold floor for the whole week during that time. They said that it was over crowded and that they didn't have any space. I was given a little mat with one sheet. I had to use this sheet to make a pillow and to cover myself. It was cold on the floor and caused me to have [severe] back pain and problems I also hurt my foot . . . .” Id. Plaintiff further alleges she had a rash on her face and that sleeping on the floor caused her to have problems with her asthma. Id.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Section 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.

         To 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) (citation omitted). “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). “[A] pleading that offers ‘labels or conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from CCJ for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Primarily, the complaint must be dismissed as the CCJ is not a “state actor” within the meaning of § 1983. See, e.g., Grabow v. Southern State Corr. Facility, 726 F.Supp. 537, 538-39 (D.N.J. 1989) (correctional facility is not a “person” under § 1983). Accordingly, the claims against CCJ must be dismissed with prejudice.

         Generally, “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). This Court denies leave to amend at this time as Plaintiff's complaint is barred by the statute of limitations, which is governed by New Jersey's two-year limitations period for personal injury.[1] See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276 (1985); Dique v. N.J. State Police, 603 F.3d 181, 185 (3d Cir. 2010). The accrual date of a § 1983 action is determined by federal law, however. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 388 (2007); Montanez v. Sec'y Pa. Dep't of Corr., 773 F.3d 472, 480 (3d Cir. 2014).

         “Under federal law, a cause of action accrues when the plaintiff knew or should have known of the injury upon which the action is based.” Montanez, 773 F.3d at 480 (internal quotation marks omitted). Plaintiff states she was detained at CCJ from August 31, 2012 to September 7, 2012. The allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement at CCJ would have been immediately apparent to Plaintiff at the time of her detention; therefore, the statute of limitations for Plaintiff's claims expired 2014. As there are no grounds for equitable tolling of the statute of limitations, [2] the complaint will be dismissed with ...


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