United States District Court, D. New Jersey
TIMOTHY E. MITCHELL, Plaintiff,
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL, Defendant.
Timothy E. Mitchell, Plaintiff Pro Se
B. SIMANDLE, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Plaintiff Timothy E. Mitchell 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 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 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.
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.
but one of Plaintiff's four alleged confinements at the
CCJ occurred outside of the statute of limitations for claims
brought pursuant to § 1983. Plaintiff alleges he was
confined at the CCJ from September 2006 to January 2007,
September 2012 to February 1, 2013, February 13, 2013, to
September 11, 2013, and February 2015 to May 22, 2015.
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 CCJ would have been immediately apparent to
Plaintiff at the time of his detention; therefore, the
statute of limitations for Plaintiff's September 2006 to
January 2007, September 2012 to February 1, 2013, and
February 13, 2013, to September 11, 2013, claims expired,
respectively, in January 2009, February 2015, and September
2015, well before this complaint was filed in September 2016.
Plaintiff therefore cannot recover for these
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 complaint within 30 days of the
date of this order. However, in the event Plaintiff does
elect to file an amended complaint, in addition to naming a
proper defendant, Plaintiff should focus only on the facts of
his 2015 confinement. Because Plaintiff's claims arising
from his earlier confinements are barred by the statute of
limitations and must be dismissed with prejudice, Plaintiff
may not assert these claims in the amended complaint.
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