United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Alease Goodwater, Plaintiff Pro Se
B. SIMANDLE CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Plaintiff Aleta A. Goodwater seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the
Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”) and
Sean David Krebs. 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
it is clear from the face of the complaint that it is barred
by the statute of limitations, the Court will dismiss the
complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).
Plaintiff alleges she was falsely arrested in 2009 as part of
Operation Sunburst. She states: “[t]hey picked up Sean
D. Krebs up in 2009 with 56 bags of crack [cocaine], being as
that they kept Harassing Him after they let Sean go that same
Day. Then that following week or month I shall say at the
time I Aleta was a user so when task force seen him again
task force was harassing me Aleta and I had my personal use
on me and they charge me for Distribution which I was a user
at the time.” Complaint § III(c). She further
alleges she suffered bed bug bites, germs, and mental stress
while in CCCF. Id. § IV.
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 for monetary damages pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983,  for alleged violations of her
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).
Because Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged that a
“person” deprived her of a federal right, the
complaint does not meet the standards necessary to set forth
a prima facie case under § 1983. Plaintiff
seeks monetary damages from CCCF for allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement, alleging she was
subjected to bed bug bites and germs while she was
incarcerated there in 2009. Complaint § IV. 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.
the extent the complaint could be construed as raising false
arrest claims against the Operation Sunburst officers, the
claim is barred by the two-year statute of limitations. 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). “Claims for false arrest ... typically
accrue on the date of the arrest ... because, at that point,
the plaintiff has reason to know of the injury.”
Ostuni v. Wa Wa's Mart, 532 F.App'x 110, 112
(3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (citing Montgomery v. De
Simone, 159 F.3d 120, 126 (3d Cir. 1998)).
Plaintiff states the arrest occurred in 2009. Complaint
§ III(b). Therefore, the statute of limitations for
Plaintiff's claims expired in 2011 at the latest, well
before this complaint was filed in 2016. Plaintiff has filed
her 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 her cause of action, there are no extraordinary
circumstances that prevented Plaintiff from filing her claim,
and there is nothing to indicate Plaintiff filed her claim on
time but in the wrong forum. See Omar v. Blackman,
590 F.App'x 162, 166 (3d Cir. 2014).
statute of limitations has likewise expired on any state law
defamation claim Plaintiff may have against Mr. Krebs or the
Operation Sunburst officers. New Jersey law requires all
defamation claims to be brought “within 1 year next
after the publication of the alleged libel or slander.”
N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:14-3. The time to bring defamation
claims expired in 2010.
it is clear from the face of the complaint that it was filed
after the expiration of the statute of limitations, the
complaint is dismissed with prejudice, meaning Plaintiff may
not file an amended complaint concerning the events of 2009.
Ostuni, 532 F.App'x at 112 ...