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Bates v. Former Warden Eric Taylor

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

August 22, 2017

PRESTON LAMAR BATES, Plaintiff,
v.
FORMER WARDEN ERIC TAYLOR; FORMER DEPUTY WARDEN FRANK LOBERTO; JOSEPH RIPA, Defendants.

          Preston Lamar Bates, Plaintiff Pro Se Camden County Correctional Facility

          OPINION

          SIMANDLE, District Judge:

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Preston Lamar Bates seeks to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Former Warden Eric Taylor, Former Deputy Warden Frank Loberto, and Joseph Ripa. Complaint, Docket Entry 1.

         At this time, the Court must review the complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. For the reasons set forth below it is clear from the complaint that the claim arose more than two years before the complaint was filed. It is therefore barred by the two-year statute of limitations that governs claims of unconstitutional conduct under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court will therefore dismiss the complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges he was detained in the Camden County Jail (“CCJ”). Complaint § III. He further alleges that he was detained, “I know the years 2010, 2011, 2012.” He further alleges that during this time he was forced to sleep on the unsanitary floors by the toilet. Id. He further alleges he was under stress due to the overcrowded conditions packed with three to four inmates per cell. Id.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Section 1915(e)(2) requires a court to review complaints prior to service of the summons and complaint 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 pauperis.

         To 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) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). “[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)).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff's complaint alleges that he experienced unconstitutional conditions of confinement while he was detained in the CCJ in 2010, 2011 and 2012. 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. New Jersey 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) (quoting Kach v. Hose, 589 F.3d 626, 634 (3d Cir. 2009)).

         The allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement at CCJ, namely the alleged overcrowding, would have been immediately apparent to Plaintiff at the time of his detention; therefore, the statute of limitations for Plaintiff's claims expired in 2014 at the latest, well before this complaint was filed in 2017. Plaintiff has filed his lawsuit too late. Although the Court may toll, or extend, the statute of limitations in the interests of justice, certain circumstances must be present before it can do so. Tolling is not warranted in this case because the state has not “actively misled” Plaintiff as to the existence of his cause of action, there are no extraordinary circumstances that prevented Plaintiff from filing his claim, and there is nothing to indicate Plaintiff filed his claim on time but in the wrong forum. See Omar v. Blackman, 590 F.App'x 162, 166 (3d Cir. 2014).

         As it is clear from the face of the complaint that more than two years have passed since Plaintiff's claims accrued, the complaint is dismissed with prejudice, meaning he may not file an amended complaint concerning the events of 2010, 2011 and 2012. Ostuni v. Wa Wa's Mart, 532 F.App'x 110, 112 (3d Cir.2013) (per ...


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