United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Larm, Plaintiff Pro Se.
B. SIMANDLE, Chief U.S. District Judge.
Plaintiff Rachel Larm seeks to bring a civil rights complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden County
Correctional Facility (“CCCF”), Correctional
Officers, and the Warden. 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 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 [her] of a federal right; and (2) the person who
deprived [her] 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 . . subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action
at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for
redress . . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 1983. exercising his
responsibilities pursuant to state law.” Id.
Because Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged that a person
deprived her of a federal right, the complaint does not meet
the standards necessary to set forth a prima facie
case under § 1983. Plaintiff alleges: “I was
placed in a 2 person cell with 4 and at times 5 people in
unsanitary conditions.” Complaint § III. She
further states, “The Camden County Correctional
Facility placed me in unsanitary conditions in over populated
cells - The Warden, Correctional Officers.”
Id. Plaintiff also states that CCCF “illegally
strip searched me . . . .” Id. § II. Even
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.
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.
Moreover, Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged a Fourth
Amendment violation for an improper strip search. Under the
Fourth Amendment, inmates have a limited right of bodily
privacy “subject to reasonable intrusions necessitated
by the prison setting.” Parkell v. Danberg,
833 F.3d 313, 325 (3d Cir. 2016). This right is very narrow,
however. Id. at 326.
“The test of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment
. . . requires a balancing of the need for the particular
search against the invasion of personal rights that the
search entails. Courts must consider the scope of the
particular intrusion, the manner in which it is conducted,
the justification for initiating it, and the place in which
it is conducted.” Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S.
520, 559 (1979). A prisoner search policy is constitutional
if it strikes a reasonable balance between the inmate's
privacy and the needs of the institution. Parkell,
833 F.3d at 326 (citing Florence v. Bd. of Chosen
Freeholders of Cty. of Burlington, 132 S.Ct. 1510, 1515,
Plaintiff's cursory allegation that she was
“illegally strip searched” is insufficient to
state a claim for relief. In the absence of further facts
regarding the circumstances of the search, the claim cannot
proceed at this time. Plaintiff may amend this claim in an
amended complaint, however.
addition, though correctional officers and the Warden may be
proper defendants in a § 1983 action, the CCCF may not
be sued under § 1983. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages
from CCCF for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement. The CCCF, however, is not a “person”
within the meaning of § 1983; therefore, 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 ...