United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Smith Plaintiff Pro Se.
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE Chief District Judge.
Plaintiff Danita Smith seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden
County Jail (“CCJ”) for allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Complaint, Docket
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.
First, the Complaint must be dismissed with prejudice as to
claims made against the CCJ because defendant is not a
“state actor” within the meaning of § 1983.
See Crawford v. McMillian, No. 16-3412, 2016 WL
6134846 (3d Cir. Oct. 21, 2016) (“[T]he prison is not
an entity subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. §
1983.”) (citing Fischer v. Cahill, 474 F.2d
991, 992 (3d Cir. 1973)); Grabow v. Southern State Corr.
Facility, 726 F.Supp. 537, 538-39 (D.N.J. 1989)
(correctional facility is not a “person” under
Second, 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).
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 §§
III - IV of 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.
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)). 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
Here, Plaintiff's Complaint states in its entirety:
“I had to sleep on the floor with 3 other women and it
was not good when you have people in there with drug
problems. The guards did not listen to what I needed and took
there [sic] time for me to get my meds.”
Complaint § III. Plaintiff further claims that she
“caught the flu by sleeping by the door and the air
from under the door gotten me.” Id. § IV.
She asks to “be compensated for being mistreated inside
the Camden County Jail” (id. § V).
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 dates and length
of the confinement(s), whether plaintiff was a pretrial
detainee or convicted prisoner, etc.
There are also not enough facts for the Court to infer
Plaintiff was denied adequate medical care. In order to set
forth a cognizable claim for a violation of the right to
adequate medical care, an inmate must allege: (1) a serious
medical need; and (2) behavior on the part of prison
officials that constitutes deliberate indifference to that
need. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106
(1976); Natale v. Camden Cnty. Corr. Facility, 318
F.3d 575, 582 (3d Cir. 2003). A mere assertion that
“the guards took there [sic] time for me to
get my meds” (Complaint § III) is insufficient to
meet the pleading standard in the absence of additional
facts. If Plaintiff wishes to pursue this claim, Plaintiff
should provide facts supporting both of the inadequate
medical care claim requirements in the amended complaint.
Plaintiff may be able to amend the Complaint to particularly
identify adverse conditions that were caused by specific
state actors, that caused Plaintiff to endure genuine
privations and hardship over an extended period of time, and
that were excessive in relation to their purposes. To that
end, the Court shall grant Plaintiff leave to amend the
Complaint within 30 days of the date of this
Plaintiff is further advised that any amended complaint must
plead specific facts regarding the conditions of confinement.
In the event Plaintiff files an amended complaint, Plaintiff
must plead sufficient facts to support a reasonable inference
that a constitutional violation has occurred in order to
survive this Court's review under § 1915.
Plaintiff should note that when an amended complaint is
filed, the original complaint no longer performs any function
in the case and cannot be utilized to cure defects in the
amended complaint, unless the relevant portion is
specifically incorporated in the new complaint. 6 Wright,
Miller & Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure 1476 (2d
ed. 1990) (footnotes omitted). An amended complaint may adopt
some or all of the allegations in the original complaint, but
the identification of the particular allegations to be
adopted must be clear and explicit. Id. To avoid
confusion, the safer course is to file ...