United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Denise McCargo, Plaintiff Pro Se
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE JUDGE
Plaintiff Jannie Denise Starling seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
the Camden County Jail (“CCJ”). Complaint, Docket
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 [her] of a federal right; and (2) the person who
deprived [her] 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.
Because Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged that a
“person” deprived her of a federal right, the
complaint does not meet the standards necessary to set forth
a prima facie case under § 1983. 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)). Because 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.
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.
Plaintiff is advised that the amended complaint must plead
sufficient facts to support a reasonable inference that a
constitutional violation has occurred in order to survive
this Court's review under § 1915. Plaintiff alleges
that she was confined in the CCJ in October and July of 2015.
Complaint § III. The facts section of the complaint
states: “Couldn't sleep, very uncomfortable, body
aches. Dirty environment, very unsanitary. No furniture in
cell. Cold temperature. Horrible food and limited water. Had
to sleep on floor which was disgusting and freezing. Slept on
floor 26 days.” 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.
Plaintiff alleges that she slept on the floor, presumably
because no open beds were available. The 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's remaining allegations also are insufficient
to set forth a prima facie case under § 1983.
Plaintiff offers vague and cursory allegations that the CCJ
was “very uncomfortable, ” a “dirty
environment, very unsanitary, ” and had “cold
temperature” and “horrible food.” These
allegations essentially complain “of an inconvenient
and uncomfortable situation”; however,
“‘the Constitution does not mandate comfortable
prisons.'” Carson v. Mulvihill, 488
F.App'x 554, 560 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Rhodes,
452 U.S. at 349); see also, Marnin v.
Pinto, 463 F.2d 583, 584 (3d Cir. 1972) (“blanket
statements alleging bad food and miserable living conditions
in the prison” were “naked statements [that do
not] ordinarily merit Federal court intervention”).
Plaintiff may be able to amend her complaint to address the
deficiencies noted by the Court, the Court shall grant
Plaintiff leave to amend the ...