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David v. Camden County Jail

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 17, 2017

LAWRENCE DAVID, Plaintiff,
v.
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL, Defendant.

          Lawrence David, Plaintiff Pro Se

          OPINION

          HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE, Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Lawrence David seeks to bring a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden County Jail (“CCJ”). Complaint, Docket Entry 1.

         At this time, the Court must review the Complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. For the reasons set forth below, it is clear from the Complaint that the claim arose more than two years before the Complaint was filed. It is therefore barred by the two-year statute of limitations that governs claims of unconstitutional conduct under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court will therefore dismiss the Complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that he “has been in and out of the Camden County Jail since 1994, ” and that he has “been laying on the floors numerous times” during these incarcerations, specifically: January 2007, October 2009 and October 2010. Complaint §§ III(B)-(C). Plaintiff claims to have suffered “chest & head pains” in connection with these events (id. § IV) and seeks “compensation for pain and suffering.” Id. § V.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Section 1915(e)(2) requires a court to review complaints prior to service of the summons and complaint 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 pauperis.

         To 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) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). “[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)).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff experienced unconstitutional conditions of confinement while detained in the CCJ in January 2007, October 2009 and October 2010. Complaint §§ III(B)-(C). Civil rights claims under § 1983 are governed by New Jersey's limitations period for personal injury and must be brought within two years of the claim's accrual. See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276 (1985); Dique v. New Jersey State Police, 603 F.3d 181, 185 (3d Cir. 2010). “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 v. Sec'y Pa. Dep't of Corr., 773 F.3d 472, 480 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Kach v. Hose, 589 F.3d 626, 634 (3d Cir. 2009)).

         The allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement at CCJ, namely the alleged overcrowding and sleeping conditions in cells, would have been immediately apparent to Plaintiff at the time of detention; therefore, the statute of limitations for Plaintiff's claims expired in October 2012 at the latest, well before this Complaint was filed in 2016. Plaintiff has filed his lawsuit too late. Although the Court may toll, or extend, the statute of limitations in the interests of justice, certain circumstances must be present before it can do so. Tolling is not warranted in this case because the state has not “actively misled” Plaintiff as to the existence of his cause of action, there are no extraordinary circumstances that prevented Plaintiff from filing his claim, and there is nothing to indicate Plaintiff filed his claim on time but in the wrong forum. See Omar v. Blackman, 590 F. App'x 162, 166 (3d Cir. 2014).

         As it is clear from the face of the Complaint that more than two years have passed since Plaintiff's claims accrued, the Complaint is dismissed with prejudice, meaning he may not file an amended complaint concerning the events of January 2007, October 2009 and October 2010. Ostuni v. Wa Wa's Mart, 532 F. App'x 110, 112 (3d Cir. ...


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