United States District Court, D. New Jersey
R. Natale, Esq. Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC
Counsel for Plaintiff.
McCann, Esq. Chance & McCann, LLC Counsel for Defendant
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
case concerns claims of repeated sexual abuse that Plaintiff
Jennifer Cantoni, a former inmate at Cumberland County Jail
in Bridgeport, New Jersey, suffered at the hands of various
corrections officers at the jail. At issue is Defendant
Cumberland County's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 18, joined
in by Defendant John Berry, ECF No. 21, which is ripe for
adjudication. The Court has subject-matter jurisdiction over
this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, as this case
concerns a federal question. For the reasons that follow, the
Court will deny the Motion.
Jennifer Cantoni was an inmate formerly incarcerated in the
Cumberland County Jail at all times relevant to the
Complaint. See ECF No. 1, ¶ 1. She now resides
in Millville, New Jersey. Id. at 1. In her
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that she was repeatedly forced
to engage in non-consensual sexual acts by various
corrections officers at the Cumberland County Jail.
Id. at 2-7. Pertinent to the instant Motion,
Plaintiff does not include any allegations regarding her
availment or exhaustion of administrative remedies as to the
claims raised in her Complaint.
Standard of Review
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a
complaint must set forth a claim for relief which contains a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief; the complaint must provide the
defendant with fair notice of the claim. See Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). When
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court must
accept as true all factual allegations. See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (per curiam). The issue in a
motion to dismiss is whether the plaintiff should be entitled
to offer evidence to support the claim, not whether the
plaintiff will ultimately prevail. See Phillips v. County
of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008) (the Rule
8 pleading standard “‘simply calls for enough
facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will
reveal evidence of' the necessary element.”);
Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996).
onus is on the plaintiff to provide a well-drafted complaint
that alleges factual support for its claims. “While a
complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does
not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's
obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his
‘entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555 (alteration in original and internal citations
omitted). The court need not accept unsupported inferences,
Cal. Pub. Employees Ret. Sys. v. The Chubb Corp.,
394 F.3d 126, 143 (3d Cir. 2004), nor legal conclusions cast
as factual allegations, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
Legal conclusions without factual support are not entitled to
the assumption of truth. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“Threadbare recitals of elements
of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not” satisfy the requirements of Rule
the court winnows the conclusory allegations from those
allegations supported by fact, which it accepts as true, the
court must engage in a common sense review of the claim to
determine whether it is plausible. This is a context-specific
task, for which the court should be guided by its judicial
experience. The court must dismiss the complaint if it fails
to allege enough facts “to state a claim for relief
that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A
“claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw a
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
The complaint that shows that the pleader is entitled to
relief--or put another way, facially plausible--will survive
a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2);
Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223, 229 (3d Cir.
Defendants Cumberland County and John Berry seek the
dismissal of the claims against them based on Plaintiff's
alleged failure to exhaust her administrative remedies.
See ECF Nos. 18-1, 21.
exhaustion of administrative remedies is a mandatory
prerequisite to any prisoner's filing of a civil rights
action regarding prison conditions. 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(a); Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 85 (2006)
(citing Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 739 (2001)).
The PLRA's exhaustion requirement, however, does not
apply when the plaintiff is not incarcerated. See,
e.g., Ahmed v. Dragovich, 297 F.3d 201, 210
n.10 (3d Cir. 2002) (“We note that every court of
appeals to have considered the issue has held that the PLRA
does not apply to actions filed by former prisoners”);
Abdul-Akbar v. McKelvie, 239 F.3d 307, 314 (3d Cir.)
(en banc) (noting that the PLRA exhaustion requirement
applies “only if the plaintiff is a prisoner at the
time of filing.”); Doe v. Washington Cty., 150
F.3d 920, 924 (8th Cir. 1998). A plaintiff's status as a
prisoner for the purposes of the PLRA is judged as of the
time she files her complaint. See Defreitas v. Montgomery
Cty. Corr. Facility, 525 Fed.Appx. 170, 176 (3d Cir.
it appears that Plaintiff was not incarcerated when she filed
the Complaint. See ECF No. 1 at 1. As such,
Plaintiff had no obligation to exhaust her administrative
remedies prior to bringing the instant ...