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Smith v. Camden County Correctional Facility

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

October 19, 2017

CHANTILLE SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, Defendant.

          Chantille Smith, Plaintiff Pro Se.

          OPINION

          JEROME B. SIMANDLE, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         1. Plaintiff Chantille Smith seeks to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”) for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1.

         2. 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.

         3. 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).

         Claims Against CCCF: Dismissed With Prejudice

         4. Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983[1] 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)).

         5. 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)).[2] 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.

         6. 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). Given that 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.

         7. 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 of the date of this order.

         Conditions Of Confinement Claims: Dismissed Without Prejudice

         8. Second, for 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).

         9. As to the conditions of confinement claims, the present Complaint states: “I was admitted to the Camden County Correctional Facility in August 2008 until May 2009. At that time I became extremely sick from the institutions food and was housed on the floor for most of the time mentioned. I was transferred from regular population to the medical housing for my last month of my stay and was then transferred to EMCF. In 2012, I brought in on a minor violation. At which time, I was housed on the floor for a few days and then I was released. In January 2015, I was sentenced and brought in while I was pregnant. I was housed on the medical unit and on the floor for my whole stay until I was transferred to Edna Mahan in April 2015. Since there incidents, I have suffered severe back problems, and the 1st incident caused me to be diagnosed with Hepatitis A.” Complaint § III(C).

         10. Plaintiff states this occurred between August 2008 and May 2009, a few days in 2012 and January ...


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