United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Roman Rodriguez, Plaintiff Pro Se
B. SIMANDLE, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Plaintiff Felipe Roman Rodriguez 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 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.
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.
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 he was confined in the CCCF from “September 2008
to 2010” and from “June 2014 to June 2016.”
Complaint § III. The fact section of the complaint
states: “Place in a horrible cell where I slept on the
floor and accumilated [sic] bacteria in the middle right hand
finger (boil) occur from germ and poor cleaning conditions
While on floor the year of 2014-2016 (medical condition) . .
. . Four people to cell (I was the floor man).”
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
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.
Moreover, Plaintiff has not alleged that any person acting
under color of state law was aware of and acted with
deliberate indifference in creating or failing to address the
unclean conditions that are alleged to have caused Plaintiff
to develop a boil. The complaint therefore fails to set forth
a claim for relief regarding those conditions. Kost v.
Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 188 (3d Cir. 1993) (noting that
a plaintiff must prove that prison officials acted with
deliberate indifference for conditions of confinement claim)
(citing Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 303 (1991)).
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 ...