United States District Court, D. New Jersey
William Rutherford, Plaintiff Pro Se.
B. SIMANDLE Chief U.S. District Judge.
Plaintiff William Rutherford seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C, § 1983 against the
Camden County Correctional Facility ("CCCF"),
Warden James Owens ("Owens"), Warden J. Taylor
("Taylor") and Camden County Board of Freeholders
("BOF") for allegedly unconstitutional conditions
of confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1.
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.
the reasons set forth below, the Court will: (1) dismiss the
Complaint with prejudice as to claims made against CCCF, BOF,
Owens, and Taylor; and (2) dismiss the Complaint without
prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e) (2) (b) (ii) .
First, the Complaint must be dismissed with prejudice as to
claims made against CCCF because it is not a "state
actor" within the meaning of § 1983. See
Crawford v. McMillian, 660 F.App'x 113, 116 (3d Cir.
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 § 1983).
Second, the Complaint must be dismissed with prejudice as to
claims made against BOF because it 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). "There is no respondeat
superior theory of municipal liability, so a city may
not be held vicariously liable under § 1983 for the
actions of its agents. Rather, a municipality may be held
liable only if its policy or custom is the 'moving
force' behind a constitutional violation."
Sanford v. Stiles, 456 F.3d 298, 314 (3d Cir. 2006)
(citing Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Social
Services, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978)). See also
Collins v. City of Barker Heights, 503 U.S. 115, 122
(1992) ("The city is not vicariously liable under §
1983 for the constitutional torts of its agents: It is only
liable when it can be fairly said that the city itself is the
wrongdoer."). A Complaint must plead facts showing that
relevant policy-makers are "responsible for either the
affirmative proclamation of a policy or acquiescence in a
well-settled custom." Bielevicz v. Dubinon, 915
F.2d 845, 850 (3d Cir. 1990).In other words, Plaintiff must set
forth facts supporting an inference that Camden County itself
was the "moving force" behind the alleged
constitutional violation. Monell, 436 U.S. at 689.
Third, the Complaint must be dismissed with prejudice as to
claims made against Owens and Taylor because the Complaint
does "[not] allege any personal involvement by [the
wardens] in any constitutional violation - a fatal flaw,
since 'liability in a § 1983 suit cannot be
predicated solely on the operation of respondeat
superior.'" Baker v. Flagg, 439 F.App'x
82, 84 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Rode v. Dellarciprete,
845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir. 1988)). "[Plaintiff's]
complaint contains no allegations regarding [the] Warden[s].
'Because vicarious liability is inapplicable to §
1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that each
Government-official defendant, through the official's own
individual actions, has violated the Constitution.' Thus,
[plaintiff] failed to state a claim against [the]
Warden[s]." Bob v. Kuo, 387 F.App'x 134,
136 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 676 (2009)).
Accordingly, Plaintiffs claims against Owens and Taylor must
be dismissed with prejudice.
Finally, 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 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, 556 U.S. at 678 (2009)
(quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 54
4, 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
With respect to alleged facts giving rise to his claims,
Plaintiff states: "The housing officer placed me in an
over crowded room. I was on the floor with urine, food and
species [sic] on the floor[.] I had to eat my food
in them harsh conditions violating my civil rights."
Complaint § III(C).
Plaintiff states that the purported events giving rise to
these claims occurred: "Around bout 2008, 2009, ...