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Russell v. Camden County Correctional Facility

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 5, 2017

GLADWIN RUSSELL, Plaintiff,
v.
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, Defendant.

          Gladwin Russell, Plaintiff Pro Se

          OPINION

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

          I. INTRODUCTION

         Gladwin Russell seeks to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”). Complaint, Docket Entry 1.

         At this time, the Court must review the complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. For the reasons set forth below it is clear from the complaint that the claim arose more than two years before the complaint was filed. It is therefore barred by the two-year statute of limitations that governs claims of unconstitutional conduct under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court will therefore dismiss the complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that in 2006, 2013 and 2014, she was detained in the CCCF and subjected to an unreasonable strip search during each detention. Complaint § III. She further alleges that she was detained in the CCCF from 2006 to 2010 and had to sleep on the floor. Id. She further alleges that due to these conditions, she sustained boils on her back and legs and continues to suffer from back pain. Id.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Section 1915(e)(2) requires a court to review complaints prior to service of the summons and complaint 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 pauperis.

         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) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). “[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)).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff's complaint alleges that she experienced unconstitutional conditions of confinement while she was detained in the CCCF during various detentions between 2006 to 2014. 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). “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) (quoting Kach v. Hose, 589 F.3d 626, 634 (3d Cir. 2009)).

         The allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement at CCCF would have been immediately apparent to Plaintiff at the time of her detention; therefore, the statute of limitations for Plaintiff's claims expired in 2016 at the latest, before this complaint was filed on January 30, 2017. 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).

         As it is clear from the face of the complaint that more than two years have passed since Plaintiff's claims accrued, the complaint is dismissed with prejudice, meaning she may not file an amended complaint concerning the events of her detentions at the CCCF between 2006 and 2014. Ostuni v. Wa Wa's Mart, 532 F. App'x 110, 112 (3d Cir. ...


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