United States District Court, D. New Jersey
BERNARD T. VENABLE, Plaintiff,
CAMDEN COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Defendant.
Bernard T. Venable, Plaintiff Pro Se
B. SIMANDLE Chief U.S. District Judge
Plaintiff Bernard T. Venable seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the
Camden County Department of Corrections (“CCDOC”)
for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement.
Complaint, Docket Entry 1.
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).
present Complaint 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. 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 factual allegations giving rise to Plaintiff's
claims, the Complaint states in its entirety: “I was
forced to sleep on the floor in an overcrowded jail.”
Complaint § III(C).
Complaint states that these events occurred: “5/10/16 -
5/21/16.” Id. § III(B).
Plaintiff contends that he suffered “sore shoulders,
ribs & hips.” Id. § IV.
respect to requested relief, Plaintiff seeks “a fair
monetary compensation.” Id. § V.
Even 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.
Moreover, the CCDOC is not a separate legal entity from
Camden County and is therefore not independently subject to
suit. See Bermudez v. Essex Cty. D.O.C., No.
12-6035, 2013 WL 1405263, at *5 (D.N.J. Apr. 4, 2013) (citing