United States District Court, D. New Jersey
KWAME T. DAVID, Plaintiff,
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, DAVID OWENS, and CAMDEN COUNTY BOARD OF FREEHOLDERS, Defendants.
T. David, Plaintiff Pro Se
B. SIMANDLE, District Judge:
Plaintiff Kwame T. David seeks to bring a civil rights
Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the
Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”),
David Owens (“Owens”), and the Camden County
Board of Freeholders (“BOF”) for allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Complaint, Docket
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.
the reasons set forth below, the Court will: (1) dismiss the
Complaint with prejudice as to claims made against CCCF; (2)
dismiss the Complaint without prejudice for failure to state
a claim regarding unconstitutional conditions of confinement
from (a) overcrowding, (b) food service, (c) rodents and
insects, and (d) inadequate medical care, 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(b)(ii); and (3) allow the Complaint to proceed as
to Plaintiff's claim against Owens and BOF for
unconstitutional conditions of confinement from unsanitary
Claims Against CCCF: 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 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
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 of the date of this order.
Conditions Of Confinement Claims Regarding Overcrowding:
Dismissed Without Prejudice
the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss the
Complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim as
to overcrowded conditions of confinement. 28 U.S.C. §
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 from supposed
overcrowding during Plaintiff's confinement at CCCF.
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)). 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
complaint must plead sufficient facts to support a reasonable
inference that a constitutional violation has occurred in
order to survive this Court's screening under §
However, with respect to the alleged facts giving rise to
Plaintiff's claims, the present Complaint states:
“While being housed at the jail, the plaintiff was
given a thin mattress, 2 sheets and one blanket, and was
housed in a[n] overcrowded two man cell with 3 other inmates.
Plaintiff slept on dirty floor next to and/or near the toilet
. . . Plaintiff was forced to eat meals off of dirty trays
from the kitchen . . . Plaintiff broke out in rashes due to
dirty showers that have fungus in them and mold . . .
Plaintiff slept on dirty blankets.” Complaint §
Plaintiff states that these events occurred “Sept. 22 -
October 2, 2016.” Id. § III(B).
Complaint alleges that Plaintiff suffered “breakout on
face and chest and back from dirty showers[, ] blankets and
sheets” in connection with these events. Id.
With respect to damages sought, Plaintiff “will leave
monetary relief up to the courts” in connection with
his claims. Id. § V.
Even construing the Complaint as seeking to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
alleged prison overcrowding, any such purported claims must
be dismissed because the Complaint does not set forth
sufficient factual support for the Court to infer that a
constitutional violation has occurred.
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 violate due process rights. See
Hubbard v. Taylor, 538 F.3d 229, 233 (3d Cir. 2008)
(“Hubbard II”) (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 ...