United States District Court, D. New Jersey
ROCMON L. SANDERS, Plaintiff,
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, WARDEN DAVID OWENS, and CAMDEN COUNTY BOARD OF CHOSEN FREEHOLDERS, Defendants.
L. Sanders, Plaintiff Pro Se
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE JUDGE
Plaintiff Rocmon L. Sanders seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the
Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”),
Warden David Owens (“Owens”) and Camden County
Board of Chosen Freeholders (“BOF”) for allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement. 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: (a) dismiss with
prejudice Plaintiff's claims asserted against CCCF, as
CCCF is not a “person” within the meaning of 42
U.S.C. § 1983; (b) grant Plaintiff leave to amend the
Complaint within 30 days of the date of this order, in the
event he is able to name a person or persons who were
personally involved in the alleged unconstitutional
conditions of confinement; (c) dismiss with prejudice
Plaintiff's claims of excessive force, as barred by the
statute of limitations; and (d) proceed Plaintiff's
claims against Owens and BOF regarding conditions of
confinements from which Plaintiff was released after October
Against CCCF: Dismissed With Prejudice
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.
Because the Complaint has not sufficiently alleged that a
“person” deprived Plaintiff of a federal right,
the Complaint does not meet the standards necessary to set
forth a prima facie case under § 1983. In the
Complaint, 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 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). Given that the
claims against the CCCF must be dismissed with prejudice, the
claims may not proceed and Plaintiff may not name the CCCF as
Plaintiff may be able to amend the Complaint to name a person
or persons who were personally involved in the alleged
unconstitutional conditions of confinement, however. To that
end, the Court shall grant Plaintiff leave to amend the
Complaint within 30 days of the date of this order.
Of Excessive Force: Dismissed With Prejudice
Court dismisses with prejudice Plaintiff's claims arising
from his allegations of “assault” by a CCCF
“officer” in 2005. Complaint § IV, § V.
Although not specified in the Complaint, this Court construes
Plaintiff's contentions regarding being “assaulted
by an officer” (Complaint § IV) as claims that
Plaintiff suffered physical abuse amounting to a violation of
his constitutional rights. The only specific conduct of which
Plaintiff complains is “officer assault”
(id. § V), but the circumstances surrounding
the incident are left to speculation.
“[P]laintiffs who file complaints subject to dismissal
should receive leave to amend unless amendment would be
inequitable under [§ 1915] or futile.” Grayson
v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cir.
2002). This Court denies leave to amend at this time as
Plaintiff's Complaint is barred by the statute of
limitations, which is governed by New Jersey's two-year
limitations period for personal injury. See Wilson v.
Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276 (1985); Dique v. N.J.
State Police, 603 F.3d 181, 185 (3d Cir. 2010). The
accrual date of a § 1983 action is determined by federal
law, however. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 388
(2007); Montanez v. Sec'y Pa. Dep't of
Corr., 773 F.3d 472, 480 (3d Cir. 2014). “Under
federal law, a cause of action accrues when the plaintiff
knew or should have known of the injury upon which the action
is based.” Montanez, 773 F.3d at 480 (internal
quotation marks omitted).
Plaintiff alleges that the purported assault by a CCCF
officer occurred in 2005. Complaint § IV. Accordingly,
the two-year statute of limitations for Plaintiff's
claims (Wilson, 471 U.S. at 276; Dique, 603
F.3d at 185) expired in 2007.
However, Plaintiff had not filed this present action prior to