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Chacon v. Camden County

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

October 22, 2017

MIGUEL A. CHACON, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
CAMDEN COUNTY, Defendant.

          Miguel A. Chacon, Jr., Plaintiff Pro Se

          OPINION

          JEROME B. SIMANDLE U.S. District Judge

         1. Plaintiff Miguel A. Chacon, Jr. seeks to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden County (“County”) 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 dismiss the Complaint with without prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).

         4. The complaint must be dismissed without prejudice as to the claims against the County as the Plaintiff 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.”).

         5. 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).[1] 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 his 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.

         6. As to Plaintiff's allegations of overcrowding in CCJ, the Court will dismiss the Complaint 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 violation has occurred in order to survive this Court's review under § 1915. Even accepting the statements in Plaintiff's Complaint as true for screening purposes only, there is not enough factual support for the Court to infer a constitutional violation has occurred.

         7. To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a claim[2], 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)). Moreover, while pro se pleadings are liberally construed, “pro se litigants still must allege sufficient facts in their complaints to support a claim.” Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted) (emphasis added).

         8. With respect to the alleged facts giving rise to Plaintiff's claims, the Complaint states: “Police forcibly arrested me in a very bad manner, putting me in a dirty cell to sleep on the floor.” Complaint § III(C). Plaintiff further alleges, “I was assaulted.” Id.

         9. Plaintiff states that these events occurred in November 2016. Id. § III(B).

         10. Plaintiff states these events caused his to sleep on “dirty floor in really tight handcuffs that cause bruises to my arms or [illegible].” Id. § IV (“n/a”).

         11. Plaintiff does not specify or otherwise describe any monetary relief sought. Id. § V.

         12. Even construing the Complaint as seeking to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged prison overcrowding in relation to Plaintiff sleeping on the floor (Complaint § III(C)), any such purported claims must be dismissed because the Complaint does not set forth ...


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