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Rodgers v. Camden County Correctional Facility

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 7, 2017

DENYELL MARSHEE RODGERS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, Defendant.

          Denyell Marshee Rodgers, Plaintiff Pro Se

          OPINION

          HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE JUDGE

         1. By Complaint dated October 18, 2016, Plaintiff Denyell Marshee Rodgers sought to bring a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1 (“Original Complaint”), § III(A). The Complaint stated in its entirety: “I was made to sleep on the floor of the jail” (id. § III(C)) at “Camden County Correctional Facility” (id. § III(A)) during “year of 2012 as well as 2016.” Id. § III(B).

         2. The Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77, requires a court to review complaints prior to service in cases in which a plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). 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 pauperis.

         3. In accordance with these directives of the PLRA, this Court undertook the requisite screening and, by Order dated February 24, 2017 (Docket Entry 4 (“Dismissal Order”)): (a) dismissed with prejudice Plaintiff's claims against the defendant correctional facility; and (b) dismissed without prejudice Plaintiff's claims alleging constitutional violations as to conditions of confinement.

         4. The February 24 dismissal of Plaintiff's claim against the correctional was with prejudice because, as explained in this Court's February 24, 2017 Opinion that accompanied the Dismissal Order, correctional facilities are not “state actors” subject to liability within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Docket Entry 3, at 2 (“Dismissal Opinion”) (citing 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 Cir. 1973)); Grabow v. Southern State Corr. Facility, 726 F.Supp. 537, 538- 39 (D.N.J. 1989) (correctional facility is not a “person” under § 1983)).

         5. The February 24 dismissal of Plaintiff's conditions of confinement claim was without prejudice because, even accepting the statements in § III of Plaintiff's Complaint as true for screening purposes only (“I was made to sleep on the floor of the jail” (Original Complaint § III(C)), there was not enough factual support for the Court to infer that a constitutional violation had occurred in connection with Plaintiff's incarceration. Dismissal Opinion at 4-5.

         6. The Dismissal Order granted Plaintiff leave to amend the Complaint within 30 days of the date of the Dismissal Order to plead sufficient facts to support a reasonable inference that a constitutional violation occurred during his confinement, such as: adverse conditions that were caused by specific state actors; adverse conditions that caused Plaintiff to endure genuine privations and hardship over an extended period of time; or adverse conditions that were excessive in relation to their purposes.

         7. On March 22, 2017, Plaintiff submitted an Amended Complaint, again asserting claims arising from incarceration at “Camden County Correctional Facility” (Docket Entry 5 (“Amended Complaint”) at § III(A)), but differing from the Original Complaint as to conditions of confinement facts and alleged injuries[1]:

a. First, as to conditions of confinement facts, the Amended Complaint contends that Plaintiff: (i) was “not supplied with an ind[i]gent packet” during “7 day lockdown for 23 hours per day”; (ii) “wasn't supplied with any form of washcloth to shower with so I had no way of keeping up with my hygiene during this time”; (iii) “was not given any toilet paper”; and (iv) “had no soap.” Amended Complaint, Docket Entry 5, § III(C). Unlike the Original Complaint, the Amended Complaint contains no allegations concerning Plaintiff being “made to sleep on the floor” while incarcerated. Original Complaint, § III(C). In short, the Amended Complaint does not adopt the allegations in the Original Complaint as to conditions of confinement being challenged.
b. Second, as to alleged injuries, the Amended Complaint contends that Plaintiff “sustained a rash on bottom and private area that was later treated with a vaginal cream.” Amended Complaint § IV. Plaintiff denied sustaining any injuries in the Original Complaint. Original Complaint § IV (“N/A”). In short, the Amended Complaint does not adopt the allegations in the Original Complaint as to Plaintiff's purported injuries.

         8. In accordance with the directives of the PLRA, the Court must now screen the Amended Complaint to dismiss any claim that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from suit. Pursuant to this mandate of the PLRA, the Court now finds that Plaintiff's March 22, 2017 Amended Complaint is insufficient to constitute an amended complaint that survives this Court's review under § 1915.

         9. First, whether referred to as “Camden County Correctional Facility” (Docket Entry 1 § III(A); Docket Entry 5 at 1; Docket Entry 5 § I(B)) or “Camden County Jail” (Docket Entry 1 § I(B)), Plaintiff's claims against the defendant correctional facility where Plaintiff was incarcerated cannot survive dismissal with prejudice.

         10. 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 ...


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