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Sosa v. County of Camden

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 31, 2018

ADAM SOSA, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF CAMDEN, CAMDEN COUNTY BOARD OF CHOSEN FREEHOLDERS, WARDEN OF CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, and CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS JANE & JOHN DOES 1 THROUGH 100 IN OFFICIAL & INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES, Defendants.

          Adam Sosa, Plaintiff Pro Se

          OPINION

          JEROME B. SIMANDLE U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on the unopposed motion for summary judgment (“the Motion”) of defendants County of Camden (“County”), Camden County Freeholders (“Freeholders”), and Warden of the Camden County Correctional Facility (“Warden”) (County, Freeholders, and Warden are collectively referred to as “Defendants”) (ECF No. 18.)[1] The Motion is being considered on the papers pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion shall be granted.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff Adam Sosa (“Plaintiff”) was a pretrial detainee at the Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”) from July 2012 through November 2014. (ECF No. 1 at 2.) Plaintiff is currently confined at Bayside State Prison. (ECF No. 9; ECF No. 18-8 ¶3.) He is proceeding pro se with a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights complaint (“Complaint”) regarding the conditions of confinement during his stay at CCCF. (ECF No. 1.)

         During the course of detention at CCCF, Plaintiff allegedly requested on several occasions an inmate handbook and grievance forms to register complaints about various conditions of his confinement. His requests were denied. (ECF No. 1 at 2.)

         On November 21, 2016, Plaintiff filed with this Court his Complaint against Defendants, alleging overcrowding and various unsanitary conditions at CCCF. (ECF No. 1.) As to the supposedly overcrowded conditions of confinement, Plaintiff contends that he was confined in “a cell [with] 3 other inmates [that] was designed to hold only 2 inmates.” (ECF No. 1 at 2.) According to the Complaint, Plaintiff was “forced to sleep on the floor right next to a toilet ... with just [a] mattress, which is very thin.” (Id. at 3.) As to the other conditions of which Plaintiff complains, he describes: (1) being “housed in a cell where there was mold, various insects & rodents, [with] no access to cleaning supplies”; (2) having “no hot water in the cells at all for months”; (3) being “housed with inmates who were infected with M.R.S.A.”; (4) experiencing “air ducts/vents in the cells and on the housing units [with] visible dust and mold around them”; and (5) seeing “paint[ing] over the walls & floors where the mold and dirt [are] located, in order to hide these conditions.” (Id. at 2-4.)

         As relief for the alleged violation of his constitutional and statutory rights, Plaintiff seeks “[a]n award of compensatory & punitive damages” and “injunctive relief [to] ... order Defendants to undertake all action necessary to correct the unlawful conditions of confinement.” (Id. at 5-6.)

         B. Procedural History

         On December 20, 2016, this Court granted Plaintiff's IFP Application and directed the Clerk of the Court to file the Complaint. (ECF No. 3.) After screening Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A, this Court on August 30, 2017 dismissed without prejudice Plaintiff's First Amendment freedom of speech claims and proceeded Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment conditions of confinement claims, Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claims, and New Jersey State Constitution claims. (ECF Nos. 5 and 6.)

         Defendants filed an Answer to Plaintiff's Complaint on October 30, 2017. (ECF No. 14.) On November 28, 2017, Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio issued a scheduling order requiring that all pretrial factual discovery be concluded by March 30, 2018. (ECF No. 17.) Defendants served Plaintiff with their January 30, 2018 Rule 26(a) Disclosures (ECF No. 18-4) and March 20, 2018 document requests and interrogatories. (ECF No. 18-5.) Plaintiff has not served Defendants with any discovery responses or disclosures. (ECF No. 18-2 at 6; ECF No. 18-8 at ¶6.) The time to do so has expired. On May 11, 2018, Defendants filed the Motion now pending before the Court. (ECF No. 18.) On May 11, 2018 the Court set the Motion for June 4, 2018, to be decided on the papers. Plaintiff did not file any opposition to the Motion, which remains unopposed.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Defendants move for summary judgment on four grounds: (1) Plaintiff's failure to adduce evidence from which a reasonable fact finder could find unconstitutional conditions of confinement; (2) the Complaint's mootness, in light of the Sixth and Amended Final Consent Decree in the recent class action, Dittimus-Bey, et al. v. Camden Cty. Corr. Facility, et al., Docket No. 05-cv-0063 (D.N.J.) (“Dittimus-Bey”); (3) the defendant Warden's and defendant Freeholders' entitlement to qualified immunity; and (4) Plaintiff's failure to state a claim concerning First Amendment violation. This Court finds for reasons discussed in Part IV that the mootness doctrine does not apply to Plaintiff's claims for monetary relief, but that for reasons discussed in Part V, Defendants are entitled to summary judgment by virtue of the lack of a genuine dispute of material fact. Given that the Court finds summary judgment is proper, there being no proof of a constitutional violation, the Court need not address the qualified immunity defense.

         IV. WHETHER THE FINAL CONSENT DECREE IN DITTIMUS-BEY RENDERS ...


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