United States District Court, D. New Jersey
William Marr, Plaintiff Pro Se
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE JUDGE
Plaintiff William Marr seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the
Camden County Department of Corrections
(“CCDOC”). 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 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.
Plaintiff alleges he experienced unconstitutional conditions
of confinement during confinement, presumably, at the Camden
County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”). Complaint
§ III. He does not allege the dates of his confinement
at CCCF. Plaintiff states: “I was arrested and was put
in 7-day lock down with 4 people in one cell, 2 people on the
bunks and 2 people on the floor for 7 day's [sic]. Then
they moved me to population and spent 3 months on the floor.
There where [sic] 3-4 people in on cell at all times. The
officer or C/O's that where [sic] assigned to handle the
movement's [sic] from intake to 7-day lockdown. Then
after the seven days on the floor, the CO's where [sic]
fully aware of how many people where [sic] in each cell.
Everyone in uniform including serg[eants], CO's, and
lieutenant's where [sic] aware of people sleeping on the
floor for month's [sic] on end. Even the Warden was aware
. . . .” 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.
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. Plaintiff has not
alleged the dates when he was confined, nor does he claim to
have suffered injury, as he has left the
“Damages” section of his Complaint blank.
Moreover, the CCDOC is not independently subject to suit
because it is not a separate legal entity from Camden County.
See Bermudez v. Essex Cty. D.O.C., No. 12-6035, 2013
WL 1405263, at *5 (D.N.J. Apr. 4, 2013) (citing cases).
Plaintiff has not pled sufficient facts to impose liability
on Camden County.
County is not liable under § 1983 merely because a
county employee violated someone's rights. “There
is no respondeat superior theory of municipal
liability, so a city may not be held vicariously liable under
§ 1983 for the actions of its agents. Rather, a
municipality may be held liable only if its policy or custom
is the ‘moving force' behind a constitutional
violation.” Sanford v. Stiles, 456 F.3d 298,
314 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of
Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978)). See
also, Collins v. City of Harker Heights, 503
U.S. 115, 122 (1992) (“The city is not vicariously
liable under § 1983 for the constitutional torts of its
agents: It is only liable when it can be fairly said that the
city itself is the wrongdoer.”).
Plaintiff hopes to recover against Camden County, he must
plead facts showing that the relevant Camden County
policy-makers are “responsible for either the
affirmative proclamation of a policy or acquiescence in a
well-settled custom.” Bielevicz v. Dubinon,
915 F.2d 845, 850 (3d Cir. 1990).In other words, Plaintiff
must set forth facts supporting an inference that Camden
County itself was the “moving force” behind the
alleged constitutional violation. Monell, 436 U.S.
at 689. Plaintiff has made no such allegations.
Plaintiff may be able to amend his complaint to address the
deficiencies noted by the Court, the Court shall grant
Plaintiff leave to amend the ...