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Lovett v. Camden County Jail

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 7, 2017

BENJAMIN C. LOVETT, Plaintiff,
v.
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL, Defendant.

          Benjamin C. Lovett, Plaintiff Pro Se

          OPINION

          JEROME B. SIMANDLE Chief U.S. District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Benjamin C. Lovett seeks to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden County Jail (“CCJ”). Complaint, Docket Entry 1.

         At this time, the Court must review the complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss the complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that he was confined in the CCJ in from 1998 to 1999 and from 2002-2005. Complaint § III. He states: “I was sleeping on the floor in the Camden County Jail.” Id.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         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.

         To 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)).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from CCJ for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Primarily, the complaint must be dismissed as the CCJ 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)). Accordingly, the claims against CCJ must be dismissed with prejudice.

         Generally, “plaintiffs who file complaints subject to dismissal under [§ 1915] should receive leave to amend unless amendment would be inequitable or futile.” Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cir. 2002). This Court denies leave to amend at this time as Plaintiff's complaint is barred by the statute of limitations, which is governed by New Jersey's two-year limitations period for personal injury.[1] See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276 (1985); Dique v. N.J. State Police, 603 F.3d 181, 185 (3d Cir. 2010). The accrual date of a § 1983 action is determined by federal law, however. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 388 (2007); Montanez v. Sec'y Pa. Dep't of Corr., 773 F.3d 472, 480 (3d Cir. 2014).

         “Under federal law, a cause of action accrues when the plaintiff knew or should have known of the injury upon which the action is based.” Montanez, 773 F.3d at 480 (internal quotation marks omitted). Plaintiff states he was detained at CCJ in from 1998 to 1999 and from 2002 to 2005. The allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement at CCJ would have been immediately apparent to Plaintiff at the time of his detention; therefore, the statute of limitations for Plaintiff's claims expired, at the latest, in 2001 and 2007, respectively. As there are no grounds for equitable tolling of the statute of limitations, [2] the complaint will be dismissed ...


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