United States District Court, D. New Jersey
HANK T. COLEMAN, Plaintiff,
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; WARDEN JAMES OWENS; DEPUTY WARDEN C. JOHNSON; CAMDEN COUNTY BOARD OF FREEHOLDERS, Defendants.
T. Coleman, Plaintiff Pro Se
B. Simandle Chief U.S. District Judge
Plaintiff Hank T. Coleman seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the
Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”),
Warden James Owens (“Warden”), Deputy Warden C.
Johnson (“Deputy Warden”), and the Camden County
Board of Freeholders (“Freeholders”). Complaint,
Docket Entry 1. Based on Plaintiff's affidavit of
indigency, the application to proceed in forma
pauperis is granted.
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
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).
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)).
Plaintiff alleges he experienced unconstitutional conditions
of confinement while detained at the CCCF in or “around
2009, 2010, 2012, [and] 2014.” Complaint § III.
The fact section of the complaint states: “I was picked
up by the bounty hunter's [sic] and taken to the jail. I
was on the floor because I was assigned to a 2 room cell at
the time it was 4 [people] already in the [sic] I was
urinated on by inmates and my food also.” Id.
Plaintiff further alleges: “I was injured when I had a
seizure hit my head on bunk and toilet and went to medical
for no treatment just to rest til I came through.”
Id. § IV. Even accepting the statement as true
for screening purposes only, there is not enough factual
support for the Court to infer a constitutional violation has
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 factors are the dates and length
of the confinement(s), whether Plaintiff was a pretrial
detainee or convicted prisoner, etc.
addition, to the extent that Plaintiff seeks to allege a
claim based on a violation of his right to adequate medical
care, there are not enough facts to support an inference that
Plaintiff's rights were violated in this regard. In order
to set forth a cognizable claim for a violation of his right
to adequate medical care, an inmate must allege: (1) a
serious medical need; and (2) behavior on the part of prison
officials that constitutes deliberate indifference to that
need. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106
(1976); Natale v. Camden Cnty. Corr. Facility, 318
F.3d 575, 582 (3d Cir. 2003). Plaintiff's allegations
regarding his seizure and that he “went to medical for
no treatment just to rest til [he] came through” are
insufficient to meet the pleading standard in the absence of
additional facts. If he wishes to pursue this claim,
Plaintiff should provide additional facts supporting both of
the requirements in his amended complaint.
Moreover, Plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts to
support an inference that the named Defendants are personally
liable for the alleged constitutional violations.
Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from CCCF for the allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of his confinement. As the CCCF
is not a “state actor” within the meaning of
§ 1983, the claims against it must be dismissed with
prejudice. 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)).
Moreover, Plaintiff has not pled sufficient facts regarding
the personal liability of the Freeholders. As the governing
body of Camden County, the Freeholders cannot be held liable
under § 1983 solely on a theory of respondeat
superior. Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Social
Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978). Plaintiff must
instead plead facts showing that the Freeholders 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.
other words, Plaintiff must set forth facts supporting an
inference that the Freeholders were the “moving
force” behind the alleged constitutional violation.
Monell, 436 U.S. at 689.
Similarly, Plaintiff has not pled sufficient facts to support
an inference that the Warden and Deputy Warden were
personally involved in either the creation of, or failure to
address, the conditions of his confinement. State actors are
liable only for their own unconstitutional conduct and may
not be held liable for the unconstitutional conduct of their
subordinates under a theory of respondeat superior.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009);
Bistrian v. Levi, 696 ...