United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Matthew Bowen, Plaintiff Pro Se
B. SIMANDLE, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Plaintiff Ryan Matthew Bowen 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 named a proper “person”
as a defendant alleged to have 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 September 30, 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 alleges that the events giving rise to his claims
occurred “between 2003 - 2016.” 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 2005,
well before this complaint was filed in September 2016.
Plaintiff therefore cannot recover for claims arising from
confinements ending prior to September 30,
Plaintiff elects to file an amended complaint, he therefore
should focus only on facts that occurred during confinements
ending on or subsequent to September 30, 2014. In the fact
section of the complaint, Plaintiff alleges: “While
incarcerated at CCJ, or Camden County Correctional Facility,
I was made to sleep on the floor as a fifth man in a two man
cell. I woke up to a drug addicts feces all over my legs as a
result of heroin withdrawal. The guards knew enough to joke
about the smell, but not to care enough to let us out.”
Complaint § III. Plaintiff further states: “I was
denied a shower, let alone medical attention for having
diahreah [sic] on my legs.” Id. § IV.
However, Plaintiff does not allege when these events took
place 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
September 30, 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