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Mercado v. Camden County Corrections

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 2, 2017

DANIEL MERCADO, Plaintiff,
v.
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONS, Defendant.

          Daniel Mercado Plaintiff Pro Se.

          OPINION

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

         1. Plaintiff Daniel Mercado seeks to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden County Corrections (“CCC”) for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1. Based on Plaintiff's affidavit of indigency, the Court will grant his application to proceed in forma pauperis.

         2. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) requires courts to review complaints prior to service in cases in which a plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. Courts 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.

         3. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss the Complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).

         4. The present Complaint does not allege sufficient facts to support a reasonable inference that a constitutional violation has occurred in order to survive this Court's review under § 1915. Even accepting the statements in Plaintiff's Complaint as true for screening purposes only, there is not enough factual support for the Court to infer a constitutional violation has occurred.

         5. To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a claim[1], 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)). Moreover, while pro se pleadings are liberally construed, “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) (citation omitted) (emphasis added).

         6. With respect to alleged facts giving rise to his claims, Plaintiff's Complaint states: “Inhumane treatment where I had to endure sleeping on a hard floor that was overcrowded with inmates. I had bugbites and frequently saw rodents in my cell. At one point it was my turn to sleep next to the toilet where I was sprayed with toilet water as it flushed which was very humiliating for everyone. Guards were constantly notified, but only could say it was “out of their hands.” When asked who saw what happened definitely, the correctional officers since they have first-hand accounts. Also anyone working in the prison up to the warden had to have known these horrible conditions existed.” Complaint § III(C).

         7. Plaintiff does not provide any information with respect to dates and times of the purported events giving rise to his claims.

         8. With respect to alleged injuries from the event(s) giving rise to Plaintiff's claims, the Complaint states: “I have had anxiety attacks and was prescribed medication for it. I also was prescribed medication to aid with sleeping at night because since those times it has been very difficult for me to sleep. I also continue to have back pain for having to sleep on the floor. I am currently seeking medical treatment.” Id. § IV.

         9. Plaintiff does not identify any relief sought in connection with his claims. Id. § V.

         10. Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed because the Complaint does not set forth enough factual support for the Court to infer that a constitutional violation has occurred.

         11. The mere fact that an individual is lodged temporarily in a cell with more persons than its intended design does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation. See Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 348-50 (1981) (holding double-celling by itself did not violate Eighth Amendment); Carson v. Mulvihill, 488 F.App'x 554, 560 (3d Cir. 2012) (“[M]ere double-bunking does not constitute punishment, because there is no ‘one man, one cell principle lurking in the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.'” (quoting Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 542 (1979))). More is needed to demonstrate that such crowded conditions, for a pretrial detainee, shocks the conscience and thus violates due process rights. See Hubbard v. Taylor, 538 F.3d 229, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (noting due process analysis requires courts to consider whether the totality of the conditions “cause[s] inmates to endure such genuine privations and hardship over an extended period of time, that the adverse conditions become excessive in relation to the purposes assigned to them.”). Some relevant factors are the length of the confinement(s), whether plaintiff was a pretrial detainee or convicted prisoner, any specific individuals who were involved in creating or failing to remedy the conditions of confinement, any other relevant facts regarding the conditions of confinement, etc.

         12. Moreover, the CCC is not a separate legal entity from Camden County and is therefore not independently subject to suit. See Bermudez v. Essex Cty. D.O.C., No. 12-6035, 2013 WL 1405263, at *5 (D.N.J. Apr. 4, 2013) (citing cases). ...


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