United States District Court, D. New Jersey
ALAN C. NEWMAN, Plaintiff,
THEODORE J. HULTER, WARDEN, et al., Defendants.
L. WOLFSON, U.S.D.J.
matter has been opened to the Court by Plaintiff's filing
of a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
prison officials at Ocean County Correctional Facility
arising from a slip and fall accident that occurred in 2010.
The Court previously granted Plaintiff's application to
proceed in forma pauperis. Federal law requires this
Court to screen Plaintiff's Complaint for sua
sponte dismissal prior to service, and to dismiss any
claim if that claim fails to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and/or to dismiss
any defendant who is immune from suit. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B). For the reasons explained below, the Court
will dismiss the Complaint as untimely and deny leave to
Complaint is dated February 20, 2017. (ECF No. 1, Complaint
at 8.) The Complaint is brought pursuant to § 1983
(id. at 2) and alleges that on September 21, 2010,
Plaintiff was an inmate at Ocean County Correctional Facility
in Toms River New Jersey. (Id. at 7.) On that date,
he was carrying hot tea when he slipped and fell on a wet
floor outside his cell. (Id.) Plaintiff broke his
foot in three places and received second degree burns for
which he received medical attention. (Id. at 6-7.)
Plaintiff alleges that the wet floor was caused by a
“defective shower curtain that was too short.”
(Id.at 7.) Plaintiff and other inmates housed on his
unit had previously complained about the defective shower
curtain on “numerous occasions”, but a work order
was not submitted to correct the issue. (Id.)
Plaintiff seeks damages for his injuries. (Id.)
also states in his Complaint that he filed a notice of tort
claim on December 10, 2010, alleging that he sustained
injuries at the facility. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff
subsequently filed a Complaint in New Jersey Superior Court
on February 5, 2013, alleging negligence and failure to
train. (Id.) The state court granted summary
judgment to defendants on July 12, 2013. (Id.) It
appears that the Appellate Division affirmed the dismissal in
an unpublished decision on June 10, 2015. See Newman v.
Ocean Cty. Dep't of Corr., No. A-0513-13T4, 2015 WL
3602479, at *1 ( N.J.Super.Ct.App.Div. June 10, 2015).
appears from the face of the Complaint that Plaintiff's
§ 1983 claims are untimely. It is well established that
there is no independent statute of limitations for bringing a
claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in federal court. Instead,
“the [forum] state's statute of limitations for
personal injury” applies to claims filed under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Sameric Corp. of Delaware, Inc. v.
City of Philadelphia, 142 F.3d 582, 599 (3d Cir. 1988).
In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for a civil rights
claim under § 1983 or the NJCRA is two years. Disque
v. New Jersey State Police, 603 F.3d 181, 189 (3d Cir.
2009) (section 1983); Citta v. Borough of Seaside
Park, Civ. No. 09-865 FLW, 2010 WL 3862561, at *10 n.3
(D.N.J. Sept. 27, 2010) (collecting cases and concluding that
two-year statute of limitations applies to plaintiff's
limitations period begins to run on the accrual date. For
federal claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the
accrual date of the claim is determined in accordance with
federal law. Disabled in Action of Pa. v. Se. Pa. Trans.
Auth., 539 F.3d 199, 209 (3d Cir. 2008). Generally, a
claim accrues when the facts which support the claim
reasonably should have become known to the plaintiff.
Sameric, 142 F.3d at 599 (citing De Botton v.
Marple Twp., 689 F.Supp. 477, 480 (E.D. Pa. 1988));
see also Large v. County of Montgomery, 307
F.App'x 606, 606 (3d Cir. 2009). Thus, “a claim
accrues as soon as a potential plaintiff either is aware, or
should be aware after a sufficient degree of diligence, of
the existence and source of an actual injury. Podobnik v.
U.S. Postal Serv., 409 F.3d 584, 590 (3d Cir. 2005)
(citing Keystone Insurance Co. v. Houghton, 863 F.2d
1125, 1127 (3d Cir.1988)); see also Large v. County of
Montgomery, 307 F. App'x. 606, 606 (3d Cir. 2009).
Put another way, “a cause of action accrues when the
fact of injury and its connection to the defendant would be
recognized by a reasonable person.” Kriss v.
Fayette Cty., 827 F.Supp.2d 477, 484 (W.D. Pa. 2011)
aff'd, 504 F.App'x 182 (3d Cir. 2012);
see also Giles v. City of Philadelphia, 542
F.App'x 121, 123 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing Sandutch v.
Muroski, 684 F.2d 252, 254 (3d Cir.1982) (per
curiam) (federal cause of action accrues when the
plaintiff is aware, or should be aware, of the existence of
and source of the injury, not when the potential claimant
knows or should know that the injury constitutes a legal
Plaintiff knew he was injured and the source of his injury on
or about September 21, 2010, and filed a tort action in state
court, which was dismissed as untimely in 2013. The instant
§ 1983 action premised on the same slip and fall
accident is likewise barred under the two-year limitations
period for § 1983 actions, as any claim for relief
accrued nearly seven years ago, and the Complaint provides no
facts in support of equitable tolling. Because it is clear
from the face of the Complaint that the action is barred by
the two-year limitations period, the Court will dismiss the
Complaint as untimely.
Court also finds that granting leave to amend the Complaint
would be futile under the facts presented in the Complaint.
See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103,
108 (3d Cir. 2002) (District court may deny leave to amend
under Rule 15(a) when amendment is futile.). Here, Plaintiff
has conceded that he was aware of his injury and the source
of his injury and filed a tort claim in state court, which
was dismissed on summary judgment. Furthermore, the Complaint
at best describes negligent conduct, which is not actionable
under section 1983.See Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S.
327 (1986) (holding that inmate who was injured when he
slipped on a pillow that was negligently left on the stairs
by deputy sheriff does not state claim under § 1983). As
such, the Court denies leave to amend. An appropriate Order
 Pursuant to the Prison Litigation
Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110
Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996)
(“PLRA”), district courts must review complaints
in those civil actions in which a prisoner is proceeding
in forma pauperis, see 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B), seeks redress against a governmental employee
or entity, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), or brings
a claim with respect to prison conditions, see 42
U.S.C. § 1997e. The PLRA directs district courts to
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. “The legal standard for
dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as that for
dismissing a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6).” Schreane v. Seana, 506 F.
App'x 120, 122 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Allah v.
Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000));
Mitchell v. Beard, 492 F. App'x 230, 232 (3d
Cir. 2012) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1));
Courteau v. United States, 287 F. App'x 159, 162
(3d Cir. 2008) (discussing 28 U.S.C. §
 The New Jersey Appellate Division
affirmed the dismissal as follows:
Suffice it to say, there is no dispute plaintiff's
complaint was filed after the two-year period provided by
statute. See N.J.S.A. 59:8-9 (“[I]n no event
may any suit against a public entity ... arising under this
act be filed later than two years from the time of the
accrual of the claim .”). This bar applies regardless
of whether a notice of claim was timely filed. Anaya v.
Twp. of Vernon, 139 N.J.Super. 409, 412 (App.
Div.)(“It is plain that the notice provisions of the
act, including those relating to when an action may be
commenced after notice of a claim is filed, do not affect the
statute of limitations provisions applicable to the claim
asserted-here, two years from the date of the accident and
resulting injury.” (citing N.J.S.A. ...