United States District Court, D. New Jersey
STEPHANIE C. SHERWIN, Plaintiff,
CAMDEN CITY; LUMINOSITY, INC.; KAREN TAYLOR; and DAVID OWENS, JR., Defendants.
Stephanie C. Sherwin, Plaintiff Pro Se
B. SIMANDLE United States District Judge
Plaintiff Stephanie C. Sherwin seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
defendants Camden City (“the City”), Camden
County (“the County”), Luminosity, Inc.
(“Luminosity”), Karen Taylor
(“Taylor”), and David Owens, Jr.
(“Owens”) for allegedly unconstitutional
conditions of confinement. Complaint (ECF No. 1) at 1, 2.
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: (a) dismiss with
prejudice Plaintiff's allegations of overcrowded
conditions of confinement during the period September 13,
2010 -July 26, 2014; (b) dismiss without prejudice
Plaintiff's allegations of overcrowded conditions of
confinement during the period September 8-9, 2015; (c)
dismiss without prejudice Plaintiff's allegations of
unsanitary conditions of confinement; (d) dismiss with
prejudice Plaintiff's allegations of inadequate medical
care; (e) dismiss with prejudice Plaintiff's allegations
of excessive force. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).
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).
Of Confinement Claim - Overcrowding: Dismissed With Prejudice
As To 2010-2014 Incarcerations and
Dismissed Without Prejudice As To 2015
Plaintiff alleges that she experienced overcrowding on the
following dates while she was detained at Camden County
Correctional Facility (“CCCF”): “09/08/2015
- 09/09/2015 (all day), 07/01/14 - 7/26/2014 (all day),
06/17/2013 - 07/17/13 (all day), 11/12/2010 - 11/13/2010 (all
day), 09/13/2010 - 09/17/10 (all day).” (ECF No. 1 at
§ III(B).) The period September 13, 2010 - July 26, 2014
as it relates to claims in the Complaint is referred to in
this Opinion as the “2010-2014 Incarcerations.”
The period September 8-9, 2015 as it relates to claims in the
Complaint is referred to as the “2015
Complaint alleges: “Due to overcrowding, I had to sleep
on the floor under the toilet . . . I was told to sleep on
the floor with 3 other women in the cells.”
Id. § III(C) (referred to as Plaintiff's
Complaint alleges injuries of “depression[, ] post
tra[u]matic stress disorder, [and] anxiety” sustained
by Plaintiff in connection with these events. Id.
respect to requested relief, Plaintiff seeks $5, 000 in
“financial compensation for pain and suffering and
violation of civil rights.” Id. § V.
to the 2010-2014 Incarcerations, allegedly unconstitutional
conditions of confinement would have been immediately
apparent to Plaintiff at the time of detention;
Plaintiff's incarceration ended and the two-year period
to file this suit began, at the latest, on July 26, 2014. The
two-year statute of limitations for Plaintiff's claims
expired in July of 2016 at the latest, well before this
Complaint was filed on November 21, 2016. (ECF No. 1.)
Although the Court may toll, or extend, the statute of
limitations in the interests of justice, tolling is not
warranted in this case because the state has not
“actively misled” Plaintiff as to the existence
of her cause of action, there are no extraordinary
circumstances that prevented her from filing the claim, and
there is nothing to indicate she filed the claim on time but
in the wrong forum. Omar v. Blackman, 590 Fed.Appx.
162, 166 (3d Cir. 2014). As more than two years have passed
since Plaintiff's claims accrued, the Overcrowding Claim
is barred and shall be dismissed with prejudice as to the
2010-2014 Incarcerations, meaning Plaintiff may not file an
amended complaint concerning her incarcerations during the
pre-July 2014 period. Ostuni v. Wa Wa's Mart,
532 Fed.Appx. 110, 112 (3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (affirming
dismissal with prejudice due to expiration of statute of
to the 2015 Incarceration, Plaintiff's Complaint was not
untimely but the Overcrowding Claim must be dismissed without
prejudice because the Complaint does not set forth sufficient
factual support for the Court to infer that a constitutional
violation has occurred. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).
The 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 violates due process rights. See
Hubbard v. Taylor, 538 F.3d 229, 233 (3d Cir. 2008)
(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 relevant factors are the length of the
confinement(s), whether plaintiff was a pretrial detainee or
convicted prisoner, any specific individuals who were
involved in creating or failing to remedy the conditions of
confinement, any other relevant facts regarding the
conditions of confinement, etc. The Complaint has not alleged
facts to support a reasonable inference that a constitutional
violation of overcrowding has occurred with respect to the
2015 Incarceration in order to survive review under §
Furthermore, as to Overcrowding Claim against the City and
the County with respect to the 2015 Incarceration, Plaintiff
has not pled sufficient facts to impose liability on these
defendants individually. “[A] municipality may be held
liable [under § 1983] 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.”). Therefore, Plaintiff must plead
facts showing that the relevant County and City 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).In other words, Plaintiff must set forth
facts supporting an inference that the City and the County
were each the “moving force” behind an alleged
constitutional violation. Monell, 436 U.S. at 689.
The Complaint has alleged no such facts here.
Similarly, as to Overcrowding Claim against Taylor and Owens
with respect to the 2015 Incarceration, such claim must be
dismissed without prejudice because the Complaint does
“[not] allege any personal involvement by [these
individual defendants] in any constitutional violation - a
fatal flaw, since ‘liability in a § 1983 suit
cannot be predicated solely on the operation of
respondeat superior.'” Baker v.
Flagg, 439 Fed.Appx. 82, 84 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing
Rode v. Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207 (3d Cir.
1988)). “[Plaintiff's] complaint contains no
allegations regarding [the] [W]arden. ‘Because
vicarious liability is inapplicable to § 1983 suits, a
plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant,
through the official's own individual actions, has
violated the Constitution.' Thus, [plaintiff] failed to
state a claim against [the] [W]arden.” Bob v.
Kuo, 387 Fed.Appx. 134, 136 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009)).
Finally, as to Overcrowding Claim against Luminosity with
respect to the 2015 Incarceration, such claim must be
dismissed because the Complaint does not allege any facts
whatsoever with respect to Luminosity's role, if any, in