United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Eduardo Flores, Jr., Plaintiff Pro Se.
B. SIMANDLE U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Plaintiff Eduardo Flores, Jr., 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.
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 with prejudice in part and without prejudice in
part for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. §
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.
Because Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged that a
“person” deprived him 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 CCCF for allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement. The CCCF,
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 CCCF
must be dismissed with prejudice, the claims may not proceed
and Plaintiff may not name the CCCF 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.
However, to the extent the complaint seeks relief for
conditions Plaintiff encountered during confinements ending
prior to November 8, 2014, those claims are barred by the
statute of limitations and must be dismissed with prejudice,
meaning that Plaintiff cannot recover for those claims
because they have been brought too late.
Plaintiff does not identify the dates of the events giving
rise to his claims but alleges that they occurred
“[b]etween 2010 to 2014.” Complaint § III.
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. N.J. 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). The allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement Plaintiff encountered at CCCF would have been
immediately apparent to Plaintiff at the time of his
detention; therefore, the statute of limitations for some of
Plaintiff's claims may have expired as early as 2012,
well before this complaint was filed in 2016. Plaintiff
therefore cannot recover for claims arising from confinements
ending prior to November 8, 2014.
Plaintiff elects to file an amended complaint, he therefore
should focus only on facts that occurred during confinements
ending on or subsequent to November 8, 2014. In the fact
section of the complaint, Plaintiff states: “With such
crowded conditions, I had to sleep on the floor next to the
toilet, where many times when one went to use the toilet it
would splash on me. The showers had mold residue all over the
walls and floors. The area where our food as dispensed from,
was dirty, had mice and roaches, and mold residue as well.
They gave me medications that were not properly prescribed.
They diagnosed me with medical conditions where I had never
been diagnosed before. And the medications that they were
giving me just put me in a bad state of mind, where I feel
that they just made me hallucinate and caused me to have
problems with other inmates and staff.” Complaint
§ III. Plaintiff does not allege when these events took
place, however, and, given Plaintiff's broad and vague
allegation regarding when the events giving rise to his
claims occurred, it is unclear from the face of the complaint
whether they occurred outside of the statute of limitations.
Construing the complaint liberally and granting Plaintiff all
reasonable inferences, these claims therefore will be
dismissed without prejudice. Plaintiff may provide greater
factual detail with respect to these allegations if he elects
to file an amended complaint naming a proper defendant or
defendants and if these events occurred within the statute of
limitations, i.e., during confinement(s) that ended
on or after November 8, 2014.
Plaintiff should note that when an amended complaint is
filed, the original complaint no longer performs any function
in the case and cannot be utilized to cure defects in the
amended complaint, unless the relevant portion is
specifically incorporated in the new complaint. 6 Wright,
Miller & Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure 1476 (2d
ed. 1990) (footnotes omitted). An amended complaint may adopt
some or all of the allegations in the original complaint, but
the identification of the particular allegations to be