United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Colleen Arsenault, Plaintiff Pro Se.
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE DISTRICT JUDGE.
Plaintiff Colleen Arsenault (“Plaintiff”) seeks
to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against the defendant Camden County Correctional
Facility (“CCCF”) where she was previously
confined for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1.
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 dismiss the
Complaint with prejudice in part and dismiss it without
prejudice in part. The Complaint: (a) is dismissed with
prejudice as to claims made against defendant CCCF; (b) is
dismissed without prejudice, for lack of standing, as to
conditions of confinement claims to enjoin overcrowding; (c)
is dismissed without prejudice, for lack of standing, as to
conditions of confinement claims for injunctive relief
regarding inadequate medical care; and (d) is dismissed
without prejudice, for lack of standing, as to conditions of
confinement claims regarding lack of clean clothes. Plaintiff
may file an amended complaint within 30 days after the date
this Opinion and Order are entered on the docket to correct
the deficiencies and to identify by name the party(ies) who
are allegedly liable under her conditions of confinement
claims. Any such amended complaint shall be subject to
screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Upon Plaintiff's
failure to file an amended complaint naming the party(ies)
whom she alleges are liable, her claims shall be subject to
dismissal without further notice for lack of standing.
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 added).
Against CCCF: Dismissed With Prejudice
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.
the Complaint, Plaintiff seeks relief 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.
of Confinement Claims: Dismissed Without
Prejudice For Lack of
Plaintiff seeks a court injunction rather than money damages,
and she is no longer incarcerated at CCCF. (Complaint, §
V, page 1, page 5) (seeking “avoid[ance] [of] same
treatment to any other inmate at Camden County Correctional
Facility”). Plaintiff therefore lacks standing to seek
injunctive relief because she is no longer subject to the
allegedly unconstitutional conditions she seeks to challenge.
Abdul-Akbar v. Watson, 4 F.3d 195, 206-07 (3d Cir.
1993); Weaver v. Wilcox, 650 F.2d 22, 27 (3d Cir.
1981) (“Appellant in this case was no longer imprisoned
at the time he brought his suit . . . Moreover, he does not
seek damages for deprivation of his rights while he was
[imprisoned] at [defendant's] facility. Rather, he prays
only for injunctive and declaratory relief to improve the
conditions for those inmates still imprisoned [there]. While
helping one's fellow citizen is an admirable goal, the
Constitution limits federal court jurisdiction to review of
‘actual cases or controversies' in which the
plaintiff has a ‘personal stake' in the litigation.
U.S. Const. art. III, § 2. The case or controversy must
be a continuing one and must be ‘live' at all
stages of the proceedings. Accordingly, the courts have held
that a prisoner lacks standing to seek injunctive relief if
he is no longer subject to the alleged conditions he attempts
to challenge”) (citations omitted). For these reasons,
Plaintiff's claims in this case for prospective
injunctive relief must be dismissed for lack of standing.
Nevertheless, pro se complaints are construed liberally and
are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520
(1972). Accordingly, this Court will, as explained more fully
below, afford Plaintiff leave to amend the Complaint to
allege actionable claims, if she elects to do so.
Court further advises Plaintiff that she was one of thousands
of members of a certified class in the case on this
Court's docket entitled, Dittimus-Bey v. Camden
CountyCorrectional Facility, Civil No.
05-cv-0063 (JBS), which was a class action case. The class
plaintiffs were all persons confined at the Camden County
Correctional Facility (“CCCF”), as either
pretrial detainees or convicted prisoners, at any time from
January 6, 2005 until June 30, 2017. The class of plaintiffs
sought injunctive and declaratory relief about
unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the CCCF
involving overcrowding. That class action did not involve
money damages for individuals. A proposed final settlement of
that case, which describes the settlement in detail, was
preliminarily approved on February 22, 2017. Various measures
undertaken in several Consent Decrees under court approval
reduced the jail population to fewer prisoners than the
intended design capacity for the jail. This greatly reduced
or eliminated triple and quadruple bunking in two-person
cells, as explained in the Sixth and Amended Final Consent
Decree, which continues those requirements under court
supervision. According to the Notice to all class members
that was approved in the Dittimus-Bey case on
February 22, 2017, any class member could object to the
proposed settlement by filing an objection in the
Dittimus-Bey case before April 24, 2017. A court
hearing occurred on May 23, 2017, at which objections were to
be considered. This Court finally approved the
Dittimus-Bey settlement on June 30, 2017, and that
settlement bars Plaintiff and other class members from
seeking injunctive or declaratory relief for the period of
time from January 6, 2005 ...