United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Raymond Gibson, Plaintiff Pro Se
B. SIMANDLE Chief U.S. District Judge
Plaintiff Raymond Gibson seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Warden
David Owens (“Owens”) for allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Complaint dated
September 28, 2016 (“Complaint”), Docket Entry 1.
On February 8, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Notice with this Court
(“Notice”) seeking to add Camden County
Correctional Facility (“CCCF”) and the
Freeholders Associated With Board of Directioners (“the
Freeholders”) as additional defendants in this action.
(Docket Entry 6.)
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 now: (a) dismisses the
Complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim, 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii); (b) determines that
Plaintiff's Notice does not constitute an amended
complaint; and (c) grants Plaintiff leave to file an amended
complaint within 30 days of the date of this Opinion and
First, the Complaint fails to state a claim as it 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. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii). 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 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
respect to the alleged facts giving rise to Plaintiff's
claims, the Complaint states that Owens was
“deliberately indifferent to my right by having me in
a[n] overcrowded housing unit where I'm forced to sleep
on the floor.” Complaint § 4(b). Plaintiff alleges
that “[o]vercrowded conditions in C.C.C.F. ha[ve] been
going on for years and [are] a well-known fact so I felt as
if my situation was hopeless.” Id. § 5.
Plaintiff contends that “[t]he warden has allowed
myself and others to sleep on the floor. These overcrowded
conditions have subjected me to unsanitary conditions which
breed infections such as boils and mercer [sic]. The
overcrowded conditions also breed violence in a[n] already
unsafe environment. These conditions have me subjected to
back pains, sore muscles, and repeated nightmares from living
in such a volatile environment. The inhumane conditions at
C.C.C.F. from 8/13/15 to 9/28/16 have taken a toll on my
physical and mental health.” Id. § 6.
Plaintiff “move[s] for relief to all future inmates
housed at C.C.C.F. so they never have to sleep on the floor
and be subjected to these overcrowded conditions. Also I seek
a mon[e]tary award for my civil rights being violated, namely
$1, 500, 000 in compensatory damages and $1, 500, 000 in
punitive damages.” Id. § 7.
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.
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 length of the
confinement(s), whether plaintiff was a pretrial detainee or
convicted prisoner, any specific individuals who were
involved in creating or failing to remedy the conditions of
confinement, any other relevant facts regarding the
conditions of confinement, etc.
Therefore, given that the Complaint does not set forth
sufficient factual support for the Court to infer that a
constitutional violation has occurred, it must be dismissed
as to claims made against Owens because the Complaint does
“[not] allege any personal involvement by [the
warden] in any constitutional violation - a fatal flaw [in] a
§ 1983 suit.” Baker v. Flagg, 439 F.
App'x 82, 84 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Rode v.
Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir. 1988)).
“‘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.” Bob v. Kuo, 387 F. App'x 134, 136
(3d Cir. 2010) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 676 (2009).
Plaintiff may be able to amend the Complaint to particularly
identify adverse conditions that were caused by specific
state actors, that caused Plaintiff to endure genuine
privations and hardship over an extended period of time, and
that were excessive in relation to their purposes. To that
end, the Court shall grant Plaintiff leave to amend the
Complaint within 30 days of the date of this
Second, construing Plaintiff's Notice as an attempt to
amend the original Complaint, it is insufficient ...