Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Rutherford v. Camden County Correctional Facility

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 7, 2017

WILLIAM RUTHERFORD, Plaintiff,
v.
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, WARDEN JAMES OWENS, WARDEN J. TAYLOR, and CAMDEN COUNTY BOARD OF FREEHOLDERS, Defendants.

          William Rutherford, Plaintiff Pro Se.

          OPINION

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

         1. 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.

         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: (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) .

         4. 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).

         5. 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).[1]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.

         6. 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)).

         7. Accordingly, Plaintiffs claims against Owens and Taylor must be dismissed with prejudice.

         8. 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).

         9. 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.

         10. To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a claim[2], 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 added).

         11. 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).

         12. Plaintiff states that the purported events giving rise to these claims occurred: "Around bout 2008, 2009, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.