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Savage v. Camden County Correctional Facility

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 26, 2017

SHIRLEY DIANE SAVAGE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, Defendant.

          Shirley Diane Savage, Plaintiff Pro Se

          OPINION

          JEROME B. SIMANDLE Chief U.S. District Judge.

         1. Plaintiff Shirley Diane Savage seeks to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”), Municipal Court of Camden (“Municipal Court”), Judge Traben (“Traben”), Judge Freibert (“Freibert”), and unnamed judges presiding in pending court proceedings where Plaintiff is a party (“Unnamed Judges”) (Traben, Freibert, and Unnamed Judges collectively referred to as “the Judges”) for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1.

         2. 28 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.

         3. For the reasons set forth below, this Court will dismiss the Complaint with prejudice in part and dismiss it without prejudice in part, as follows:

a. Claims made against CCF are dismissed with prejudice;
b. Claims for false arrest / false imprisonment of Plaintiff in 2010 are dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim, on the grounds that such claims are time-barred under the statute of limitations;
c. Claims for false arrest / false imprisonment arising from Plaintiff's arrest and incarceration prior to November 3, 2014 (i.e., two years before the date Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this present case) are dismissed with prejudice, on the grounds that such claims are time-barred under the statute of limitations;
d. Claims for false arrest / false imprisonment arising from Plaintiff's arrest and incarceration on or after November 3, 2014 are dismissed without prejudice;
e. Claims made against Municipal Court, the Judges, and the Unnamed Judges are dismissed with prejudice, on the grounds of absolute judicial immunity from suit; and
f. Claims for overcrowded conditions of confinement are dismissed without prejudice, on grounds of insufficiency of pleading for Plaintiff's failure to (i) specifically name the party(ies) whom Plaintiff alleges are liable on the overcrowded conditions of confinement claim, and (ii) set forth sufficient factual support for this Court to infer that a constitutional violation has occurred.

         Standard of Review

         4. 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). “[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)). Moreover, while pro se pleadings are liberally construed, “pro se litigants still must allege sufficient facts in their complaints to support a claim.” Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted) (emphasis added).

         Claims Against CCCF: Dismissed With Prejudice

         5. Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983[1] 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)).

         6. 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)).[2] 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.

         7. 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 a defendant.

         8. 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.

         Conditions Of Confinement Claim - Overcrowding Allegation: ...


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