United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Dixon, Plaintiff Pro Se.
B. SIMANDLE Chief U.S. District Judge.
Plaintiff Bruce Dixon 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”), Metro Police, and Camden County Board
of Freeholders (“BOF”) for allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Complaint, Docket
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,
Metro Police, 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. 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 § 1983).
Second, the Complaint must be dismissed with prejudice as to
claims made against BOF because it is not a legal entity
separate 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 Harker 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, construing the Complaint to assert claims against
Camden County Police (see Complaint at 1 (naming
“Metro Police” as a defendant)), the Complaint
must be dismissed with prejudice as to claims made against
Metro Police. “[A] city police department is a
governmental sub-unit that is not distinct from the
municipality of which it is a part.” Jackson v.
City of Erie Police Dep't, 570 F.Appx. 112, 114 n.2
(3d Cir. 2014) (citing Monell, 436 U.S. at 694).
Camden County Police (i.e., “Metro
Police” named as defendant herein) are not distinct
from Camden County, and the Complaint asserts no facts
alleging that Camden County was the “moving
force” behind an alleged constitutional violation.
Monell, 436 U.S. at 689.
Fourth, 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,
Plaintiff's 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. 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
With respect to alleged facts giving rise to his claims,
Plaintiff states: “I was booked and taken to [a] room
with 4 inmates in the cell. [I] was placed on the floor with
urine on it and species [sic] on the floor.”
Complaint § III(C).
Plaintiff states that the purported events giving rise to
these claims occurred: “Approx 2013, ...