United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Alexsandra Rodriguez, Plaintiff Pro Se.
B. SIMANDLE U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Plaintiff Alexsandra Rodriguez seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden
County (“County”). Complaint, Docket Entry 1.
Based on Plaintiff's affidavit of indigency, the Court
will grant her application to proceed in forma pauperis.
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 [her] of a federal right; and (2) the person who
deprived [her] 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.
Plaintiff listed the County as her defendant, but has not
pled sufficient facts to impose liability on this defendant.
“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). 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. As Plaintiff may be able to amend her 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.
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 she was confined in the CCJ in October 2016. Complaint
§ III. The facts section of the complaint states:
“Police forcely [sic] arrested me in a very bad manner,
putting me in a dirty cell to sleep on the floor.”
Id. She further alleges, “I was
assaulted.” Id. 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 occurred.
Plaintiff alleges that she slept on the floor, presumably
because no open beds were available. The 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 Fed.Appx. 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.
Plaintiff's remaining allegations also are insufficient
to set forth a prima facie case under § 1983.
Plaintiff offers vague and cursory allegations “police
forcely [sic] arrested” her and that she was
“assaulted” without any additional facts or
Plaintiff may be able to amend her complaint to address the
deficiencies noted by the Court, the Court shall grant
Plaintiff leave to amend the ...