United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Morton, Plaintiff Pro Se.
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Elsie Morton seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Complaint,
Docket Entry 1.
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 brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
for alleged violations of Plaintiff's constitutional
rights. In order to set forth a prima facie case
under § 1983, a plaintiff must show: “(1) a person
deprived him of a federal right; and (2) the person who
deprived him of that right acted under color of state or
territorial law.” Groman v. Twp. of Manalapan,
47 F.3d 628, 633 (3d Cir. 1995) (citing Gomez v.
Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980)).
Generally, for purposes of actions under § 1983,
“[t]he term ‘persons' includes local and
state officers acting under color of state law.”
Carver v. Foerster, 102 F.3d 96, 99 (3d Cir. 1996)
(citing Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21
(1991)). To say that a person was “acting
under color of state law” means that the defendant in a
§ 1983 action “exercised power [that the
defendant] possessed by virtue of state law and made possible
only because the wrongdoer [was] clothed with the authority
of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 49
(1988) (citation omitted). Generally, then, “a public
employee acts under color of state law while acting in his
official capacity or while exercising his responsibilities
pursuant to state law.” Id. at 50.
Plaintiff has not named a defendant in his complaint. The
complaint ordinarily would therefore be dismissed. Though
Plaintiff did not name a defendant, however, he has alleged
that corrections officers, nurses, and the Warden
“never tried to change the situation at hand.”
Complaint § III. Because pro se complaints must
be liberally construed, Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S.
97, 106 (1976), the Court will construe the complaint as
seeking to state a claim against the as-yet unnamed
corrections officers, nurses, and Warden.
Plaintiff alleges that he encountered unconstitutional
conditions of confinement at the Camden County Correctional
Facility in 2003, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Complaint
§ III. Plaintiff states: “Sleeping in overcrowded
room which provide 2 bunks only and while sleeping on the
floor near the toilet there were men who was detoxing and
urinating all the time.” Id. 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 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 dates and length
of the confinement(s), whether Plaintiff was a pretrial
detainee or convicted prisoner, etc.
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 complaint within 30 days of the
date of this order.
Plaintiff should note that when an amended complaint is
filed, the original complaint no longer performs any function
in the case and cannot be utilized to cure defects in the
amended complaint, unless the relevant portion is
specifically incorporated in the new complaint. 6 Wright,
Miller & Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure 1476 (2d
ed. 1990) (footnotes omitted). An amended complaint may adopt
some or all of the allegations in the original complaint, but
the identification of the particular allegations to be
adopted must be clear and explicit. Id. To avoid
confusion, the safer course is to file an amended complaint
that is complete in itself. Id.
the reasons stated above, the claims arising from
Plaintiff's 2003, 2006, 2009, and 2013 confinements are
barred by the statute of limitations and therefore dismissed
with prejudice. The remainder of the complaint, insofar as it
seeks relief for conditions of confinement Plaintiff
encountered in 2014 and 2015, is dismissed without prejudice
for failure to state a claim. The Court ...