United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Cathleen Brooks, Plaintiff Pro Se
JEROME B. SIMANDLE, District Judge
Plaintiff Cathleen Brooks seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Camden County Jail (“CCJ”) for allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Complaint, Docket
this time, the Court must review the Complaint 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, the
Court concludes that the Complaint: (1) will be dismissed
with prejudice as to claims against CCJ; and (2) will be
dismissed without prejudice: (a) as to alleged
unconstitutional conditions of confinement ((i) overcrowded
conditions, (ii) water conditions, and (iii) food
conditions), (b) as to alleged improper strip search, and (c)
as to alleged harassment.
following factual allegations are taken from the Complaint
and are accepted as true for purposes of this screening only.
The Court has made no findings as to the truth of
Plaintiff alleges she endured unconstitutional conditions of
confinement in CCJ as she was confined in an overcrowded,
unsanitary facility. Complaint § III. Her complaint
states: “There was no room in holding[.] 7 day lock
slept on floor. Water was cold. Food had hair in it. Was
stripped search for a non-drug offense. Guards yelled at me
& cursed at me for no reason.” Id. §
Plaintiff alleges that these events occurred in “Feb
2016 - Sept 2016.” Id. § III(B).
Plaintiff does not identify or otherwise describe any injury
sustained in connection with the alleged events. Id.
§ IV (blank).
Plaintiff does not specify or otherwise describe any
requested relief. Id. § V (blank).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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: (a) dismiss the
Complaint with prejudice as to claims made against CCJ; and
(b) dismiss the Complaint without prejudice for failure to
state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).
Claims Against CCJ: Dismissed With
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 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)).
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.
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 makes claims against CCJ for allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement. The CCJ, 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 CCJ must be
dismissed with prejudice, the claims may not proceed and
Plaintiff may not name the CCJ as a defendant.
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 30 days after the date this Opinion and
Order are entered on the docket.
Conditions Of Confinement Claim - Overcrowded Conditions:
Dismissed Without Prejudice
Plaintiff alleges that “there was no room in holding[.]
7 day lock slept on floor” (hereinafter referred to as