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Fussell v. Camden County Corrections Facility

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 7, 2017

RAYMOND FUSSELL, Plaintiff,
v.
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONS FACILITY, Defendant.

          Raymond Fussell, Plaintiff Pro Se.

          OPINION

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

         1. Plaintiff Raymond Fussell seeks to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden County Corrections Facility (“CCCF”) for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1. Based on Plaintiff's affidavit of indigency, the Court will grant his application to proceed in forma pauperis.

         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: (a) dismiss the Complaint with prejudice as to claims made against CCCF; and (b) 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 defendant 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 Court will dismiss the Complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii). 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.

         6. To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a claim[1], 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 added).

         7. With respect to the alleged facts giving rise to Plaintiff's claims, the Complaint states: “I was forced into a two man cell with four other inmates. I was placed on the floor w[h]ere I hit my head, neck and back on the underside of the desk, chair and toilet.” Complaint § III(C).

         8. Plaintiff contends that the events giving rise to his claims occurred: “1998 thru 2016.” Id. § III(B).

         9. With respect to purported injuries from these events, Plaintiff states that when he was “placed on the floor[, ]” he “hit [his] head, neck and back on the underside of the desk, chair and toilet.” Id. § III(C), § IV.

         10. With respect to requested relief, Plaintiff “would like to receive compensation for pain & suffering for the injuries I obtain[ed] while in the cell[, ] along with the monetary compensation for my civil rights that was [sic] violated.” Id. § V.

         11. Construing the Complaint as seeking to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged prison overcrowding, any such purported claims must be dismissed because the Complaint does not set forth sufficient factual support for the Court to infer that a constitutional violation has occurred.

         12. The 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 ...


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