Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Alpheaus v. Camden County Police Department

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

August 22, 2017






         Plaintiff Jannai Alpheaus seeks to bring a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden County Police Department (“CCPD”), Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”), Camden County Sheriff's Department, County of Camden (“County”, City of Camden (“City”). Complaint, Docket Entry 1.[1]


         The following factual allegations are taken from the complaint and are accepted for purposes of this screening only. The Court has made no findings as to the truth of Plaintiff's allegations.

         Plaintiff alleges he endured unconstitutional conditions of confinement in CCCF during numerous periods of pretrial detention: January 15, 2001; June 15, 2010 to July 6, 2010; February 25 to March 7, 2013; March 31 to April 18, 2013; August 10 to 29, 2013; March 18 to April 8, 2014; and April 22 to June 12, 2014. Inmate Recidivism Sheet, Exhibit to Complaint. Plaintiff alleges: “I was subjected to several uncivil housing conditions during each individual stay from 2001 to 2016. I was placed in a 2 man cell each time with 3-4 inmates, where I was made to sleep on the floor, at times under tables, bunks, and near toilets.” Complaint § III(C).

         Plaintiff further alleges he was denied water and a functioning toilet for two weeks in a cell with 3 inmates, and again was placed in a cell with a non-functioning toilet for 2 weeks. Plaintiff alleges that requests for the non-functioning toilet were denied by maintenance, correction officers and sergeants.

         Plaintiff also alleges that he was held after he was supposed to be released on both September 6 and September 20, 2016. Id.

         Plaintiff further alleges he was provided “substandard generic, low quality insulin which caused my blood sugar to drop dramatically.” Id. § IV. For this claim, Plaintiff requests compensation for “improper medical treatment.” Complaint § V.

         Plaintiff also alleges that on June 2, 2015, he sustained facial injuries after being assaulted by an inmates as several officers on post “were unattentive [sic] and not available.” Id.

         Plaintiff further alleges that on April 5, 2015, correctional officers at CCCF performed an illegal strip search on him after he was accused of theft of facial razors. He specifically alleged that Officer Sergeant John Scott Stinsman ordered the illegal search. He further alleges that Officer Rentas made the false allegation after he had collected razors from his cell which precipitated the search. Plaintiff further alleges that Officer Riviera and Corderro performed illegal searches, in which he was “stripped naked.” Id.

         Plaintiff seeks monetary compensation between one and five million dollars. Complaint § V.


         28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) requires courts to review complaints prior to service in cases in which a plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. Courts 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 pauperis.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court will: (1) dismiss the Complaint with prejudice as to claims made against CCCF; and (2) dismiss the Complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).[2]


         A. Claims Against CCCF: Dismissed With Prejudice

         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983[3] 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)).[4] 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 the Complaint has not sufficiently alleged that a “person” deprived Plaintiff of a federal right, the Complaint does not meet the standards necessary to set forth a prima facie case under § 1983. In the Complaint, 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)); Grabow v. Southern State Corr. Facility, 726 F.Supp. 537, 538-39 (D.N.J. 1989) (correctional facility is not a “person” under § 1983).

         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 60 days after the date this Opinion and Order are entered on the docket.[5]

         B. Claims Against County and City: Dismissed Without Prejudice

         As to claims against the County and the City, Plaintiff has not pled sufficient facts to impose liability on these defendants. “There is no respondeat superior theory of municipal liability, so a city may not be held vicariously liable under § 1983 for the actions of its agents. Rather, a municipality may be held liable only if its policy or custom is the ‘moving force' behind a constitutional violation.” Sanford v. Stiles, 456 F.3d 298, 314 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978)). See also Collins v. City of Harker Heights, 503 U.S. 115, 122 (1992) (“The city is not vicariously liable under § 1983 for the constitutional torts of its agents: It is only liable when it can be fairly said that the city itself is the wrongdoer.”).

         Plaintiff must plead facts showing that the relevant Camden County policy-makers are “responsible for either the affirmative proclamation of a policy or acquiescence in a well-settled custom.” Bielevicz v. Dubinon, 915 F.2d 845, 850 (3d Cir. 1990).[6]In other words, Plaintiff must set forth facts supporting an inference that Camden County itself was the “moving force” behind the alleged constitutional violation. Monell, 436 U.S. at 689.

         C. Overcrowded Conditions Of Confinement Claim: Dismissed Without Prejudice

         Plaintiff alleges that “during the several times [I was] incarcerated, I was housed in 2-man cell with 3-4 inmates [and] made to sleep on floor” (hereinafter referred to as Plaintiff's “Overcrowding Claim”). Complaint § III(C).

         As detailed below, the Court will dismiss the Overcrowding Claim without prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii). The present Complaint does not allege sufficient facts to support a reasonable inference that a constitutional ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.