Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Cote v. Camden County Jail

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 3, 2017

TIFFANY ARIELLE COTE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL, Defendant.

          Tiffany Arielle Cote, Plaintiff Pro Se

          OPINION

          JEROME B. SIMANDLE Chief U.S. District Judge

         1. Plaintiff Tiffany Arielle Cote seeks to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden County Jail (“CCJ”) and certain unidentified correctional officers of CCJ (“the C.O.'s”) for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1. For the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that the Complaint will be dismissed with prejudice in part and dismissed without prejudice in part.

         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, the Court will:

a. Dismiss the Complaint with prejudice as to claims made against CCJ, as this defendant is not a “person” within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983;
b. Dismiss the Complaint with prejudice for failure to state a timely claim as to allegations of unconstitutional use of force (“2011 Excessive Force Claim” and “2013 Excessive Force Claim, ” as defined below), U.S. Const. amend. XIV and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii);
c. Dismiss the Complaint with prejudice for failure to state a timely claim as to allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement at CCJ, which Plaintiff purportedly experienced prior to October 3, 2014 (“2011 Overcrowded Conditions of Confinement Claim” and “2013 Overcrowded Conditions of Confinement Claim, ” as defined below), 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii); and
d. Dismiss the Complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim as to allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement at CCJ, which Plaintiff purportedly experienced in May 2015 (“2015 Jail Conditions Claim, ” as defined below), U.S. Const. amend. XIV and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).

         Plaintiff's Claims

         4. Plaintiff alleges that she was incarcerated in CCJ during three periods: (a) “1st time Oct. 2011 - stayed 3 months” (referred to hereinafter as “2011 Period”); (b) “2013 - not sure the month” (referred to hereinafter as “2013 Period”); and (c) “then again in May of 2015” (referred to hereinafter as “2015 Period”). Complaint § III(B).

         5. With respect to the 2011 Period, Plaintiff claims that she “had to sleep on floor w/ no towel[, ] nothing. Then went up to 7 day [and] had to move from cell to cell [and] had to sleep on the floor w/ only a flat matt [sic] [and] no pillows. 2 sheet[s] / 1 blanket. 4 people at all times in one cell” (referred to hereinafter as “2011 Overcrowded Conditions of Confinement Claim”). Id. § III(C). Plaintiff also claims that “one of the C.O.'s came in my cell trying to wake me & next thing I know I was being kick[ed] w/ boots to wake up. I got upset [and] tried to call my mom & tell her. The officer got mad & ripped [the] phone out of my hand” (referred to hereinafter as “2011 Excessive Force Claim”). Id.

         6. With respect to the 2013 Period, Plaintiff claims that she “had to be on the floor w/ no blanket, sheet, nothing . . . I was moved a few times & each time left on the dirty floor” (referred to hereinafter as “2013 Overcrowded Conditions of Confinement Claim”). Id. at 4. She also states: “I went through a bad with drawal [and] was walking in my sleep bothering my other cellmates. They got mad [sic] witch [sic] I understand. One of the C.O. came in w/ a white sheet [and] pulled me up off of the floor[, ] grad [sic] me across the toilet[, ] smacked my face on the wall & told me if I do anything else I would be sentced [sic] to a 364” (referred to hereinafter as “2013 Excessive Force Claim”). Id.

         7. With respect to the 2015 Period, Plaintiff claims that when she “went up to 7 day [I] was placed in a cell w[h]ere the toilet was not working & was overflowing. I was asking if I could clean the cell before placing my matt [sic] in there. We were told there wasn't anything they could do. I had to either hold it or pee over all of it witch [sic] I didn't do. Thankful[ly] I was release[d] that night” (referred to hereinafter as “2015 Jail Conditions Claim”). Complaint at 5.

         Claims Against CCJ: Dismissed With Prejudice

         8. 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)).

         9. 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.

         10. 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 CCJ for 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)); 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 CCJ must be dismissed with prejudice, the claims may not proceed and Plaintiff may not name the CCJ as a defendant.

         11. 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.