United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Murray, Plaintiff Pro Se
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE, Judge
Plaintiff John Murray seeks to bring a civil rights complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden County
Correctional Facility (“CCCF”). Complaint, Docket
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 without prejudice 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. Plaintiff
presumably 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)). Because the claims against the CCCF
must be dismissed with prejudice, the claims may not proceed
and Plaintiff may not name the CCCF as a defendant.
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.
Plaintiff is advised that the amended complaint must plead
sufficient facts to support a reasonable inference that a
constitutional violation has occurred in order to survive
this Court's review under § 1915. Plaintiff alleges
he experienced unconstitutional conditions of confinement
from October to December 2013 and again in 2015. Complaint
§ III. The fact section of the complaint states:
“2013 offensive was domestic violence and I slept on
the floor the whole time. The 2015 offensive was riding my
bike with no light and going the wrong way down the street. I
also slept on the floor and I have a rod in my left leg. I am
disabled. 2001 I was on the floor for 3 month . . . and 2006
I was on the floor for 2 month.” Id. Even
accepting these statements as true for screening purposes
only, there is not enough factual support for the Court to
infer a constitutional violation has occurred.
Plaintiff alleges he slept on the floor, presumably because
no open beds were available. The 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, to the extent the complaint seeks relief for
conditions Plaintiff encountered during confinements ending
prior to November 2, 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 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).
Plaintiff alleges the events giving rise to his claims
occurred from October to December 2013 and again in 2015.
Complaint § III. He further alleges that he slept on the
floor in 2001 and 2006. Id. The allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement at CCCF, namely
the overcrowding, would have been immediately apparent to
Plaintiff at the time of his detention; therefore, the
statute of limitations for Plaintiff's 2001, 2006, and
2013 claims expired in 2003, ...