United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Stokes, Jr., Plaintiff Pro Se
B. SIMANDLE Chief U.S. District Judge
Plaintiff Green Stokes, Jr. seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden
County for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement in the Camden County Jail. 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 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, a 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 that he experienced unconstitutional
conditions of confinement during his detention at the Camden
County Correction Facility in “2013, 2011, a lot more
dates. [I] can't remember all of them.” Complaint
§ III(B). He states: “I was arrested and held in
CCCF on different occasion[s][.] [I] slep[t] on the floor
most of the time.” Id. § III(C).
Plaintiff does not identify or otherwise describe any injury
sustained in connection with the alleged events. Id.
§ IV (blank). Plaintiff does not specify or otherwise
describe any requested relief. Id. § V (blank).
accepting these statements as true for screening purposes
only, there is not enough factual support for the Court to
infer a constitutional violation has occurred.
construing the Complaint to allege unconstitutional
conditions of confinement arising from purported overcrowding
from Plaintiff “sleep[ing] on the floor most of the
time” (Complaint § III(C)), 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 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 confinement, whether a plaintiff was a pretrial
detainee or convicted prisoner, and specific individuals who
were involved in creating or failing to remedy the conditions
the event Plaintiff files an amended complaint, he should
include specific facts, such as the dates and length of
confinement, 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, and any other relevant facts regarding the
conditions of confinement.
Moreover, Plaintiff has not pled sufficient facts to impose
liability on Camden County. “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.”).
Plaintiff must plead facts showing that the relevant Camden
County 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.
Plaintiff may be able to amend his Complaint to address the
deficiencies noted by the Court, the Court shall grant
Plaintiff leave to amend the ...