United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Derrick Battie, Plaintiff Pro Se
B. SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Derrick Battie seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden
County. 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.
Though the complaint lacks some specificity, the Court
construes Plaintiff's complaint as alleging that
Plaintiff experienced unconstitutional conditions of
confinement during his detention at the Camden County
Correctional Facility. The fact section of the complaint
states: “Sleeping on floor Unsanitary conditions 4 to a
cell people ur[i]nating on floor all around me [and] other -
people detoxing through up and people are clean and subject
to there [sic] addiction. Warden [and] other officers knowing
and knot caring about other inmates and theirselves being
affected by others. Nurses not giving medications when
suppose to talking about they don't get high just being
disrespectful and none caring.” Complaint § III.
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.
addition, to the extent that Plaintiff seeks to allege a
claim based on a violation of his right to adequate medical
care, there are not enough facts to support an inference that
Plaintiff's rights were violated in this regard. In order
to set forth a cognizable claim for a violation of his right
to adequate medical care, an inmate must allege: (1) a
serious medical need; and (2) behavior on the part of prison
officials that constitutes deliberate indifference to that
need. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106
(1976); Natale v. Camden Cnty. Corr. Facility, 318
F.3d 575, 582 (3d Cir. 2003). Plaintiff's allegation
stating “nurses not giving medications when suppose to
. . . just being disrespectful and none caring” is
insufficient to meet the pleading standard in the absence of
additional facts. If he wishes to pursue this claim,
Plaintiff should provide additional facts supporting both of
the requirements in his amended complaint.
Moreover, Plaintiff has not pled sufficient facts to impose
liability on Camden County. “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 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 not alleged any such facts.
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 ...