United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Douglas Milliner, Jr., Plaintiff Pro Se
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE, Judge
Plaintiff John Douglas Milliner, Jr., seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Warden Owens (“Warden”) and the Camden County
Jail (“CCJ”). Complaint, Docket Entry 1.
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 with prejudice in part and dismiss the complaint
without prejudice in part 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 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 Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged that a person
deprived him of a federal right, the complaint does not meet
the standards necessary to set forth a prima facie
case under § 1983 and to survive this Court's review
under § 1915. Plaintiff alleges he experienced
unconstitutional conditions of confinement on October 25,
2013, and from November 27 to November 28, 2013, March 18 to
March 19, 2015, May 20 to May 26, 2015, and January 13 to
February 12, 2016. Complaint § III. Regarding the facts
of Plaintiff's claim, the complaint states only: “I
was placed in cells with more than 2 inmates and had to sleep
on the floor next to the urinal.” Id. Even
accepting the statement 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, even if Plaintiff's allegations were enough to
set forth a claim for a deprivation of a constitutional
right, Plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts
demonstrating that a person acting under color of state law
may be held liable for the alleged constitutional violations.
Plaintiff has not pled sufficient facts to support an
inference that the Warden was personally involved in either
the creation of, or failure to address, the conditions of his
confinement. State actors are liable only for their own
unconstitutional conduct and may not be held liable for the
unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates under a theory
of respondeat superior. Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009); Bistrian v. Levi, 696 F.3d
352, 366 (3d Cir. 2012). Plaintiff has made no allegations
regarding the conduct or actions of the Warden.
addition, though the Warden may be a proper defendant in a
§ 1983 action, the CCJ may not be sued under §
1983. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from CCJ for the
allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. The
CCJ, 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)). Because the
claims against the CCJ must be dismissed with prejudice, the
claims may not proceed and Plaintiff may not name the CCJ as
Finally, to the extent the complaint seeks relief for
conditions Plaintiff encountered during confinements ending
prior to November 1, 2014, those claims are barred by the
statute of limitations and must be dismissed with prejudice,
meaning that Plaintiff cannot recover for those claims
because they have been brought too late. 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. N.J.
State Police, 603 F.3d 181, 185 (3d Cir. 2010).
“Under federal law, a cause of action ...