GAUNTT v. CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 10/19/2016. (dmr)(n.m.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
LELANEA DEE GAUNTT,
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-5727 (JBS-AMD)
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL,
Lelanea Dee Gauntt, Plaintiff Pro Se
41 Harris Avenue
Trenton, NJ 08618
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Lelanea Dee Gauntt seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden
County Jail (“CCJ”). Complaint, Docket Entry 1.
At this time, the Court must review the complaint, pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) to determine whether it should be
dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss the
complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim and
because it is time-barred. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).
Plaintiff alleges that she was detained in the CCJ in
August and September 2013. Complaint § III. She further alleges
that she was housed with four people in a 2-person cell and that
she was forced to sleep on the floor the entire time. Id.
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Section 1915(e)(2) requires a court to review complaints
prior to service in cases in which a plaintiff is proceeding in
forma pauperis. The Court 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.
To 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) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). “[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)).
Plaintiff seeks relief from CCJ for allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Primarily, the
complaint must be dismissed as the CCJ is not a “state actor”
within the meaning of § 1983. See, e.g., Grabow v. Southern
State Corr. Facility, 726 F. Supp. 537, 538–39 (D.N.J. 1989)
(correctional facility is not a “person” under § 1983).
Accordingly, the claims against CCJ must be dismissed with
Generally, “plaintiffs who file complaints subject to
dismissal under [§ 1915] should receive leave to amend unless
amendment would be inequitable or futile.” Grayson v. Mayview
State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cir. 2002). This Court denies
leave to amend at this time as Plaintiff’s complaint is barred
by the statute of limitations, which is governed by New Jersey's
two-year limitations period for personal injury. 1 See Wilson v.
“Although the running of the statute of limitations is
ordinarily an affirmative defense, where that defense is obvious
from the face of the complaint and no development of the record
is necessary, a court may dismiss a time-barred complaint sua
sponte under § 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) for failure to
state a claim.” Ostuni v. Wa Wa's Mart, 532 F. App’x 110, 111–12
(3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam).
Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276 (1985); Dique v. N.J. State Police,
603 F.3d 181, 185 (3d Cir. 2010). The accrual date of a § 1983
action is determined by federal law, however. Wallace v. Kato,
549 U.S. 384, 388 (2007); Montanez v. Sec'y Pa. Dep't of Corr.,
773 F.3d 472, 480 (3d Cir. 2014).
“Under federal law, a cause of action accrues when the
plaintiff knew or should have known of the injury upon which the
action is based.” Montanez, 773 F.3d at 480 (internal quotation
marks omitted). Plaintiff states she was detained at CCJ in
August and September of 2013. The allegedly unconstitutional
conditions of confinement at CCJ would have been immediately
apparent to Plaintiff at the time of her detention; therefore,
the statute of limitations for Plaintiff’s claims expired, at
the latest, in September 2015. Plaintiff filed this case too
late and it will be dismissed. As there are no grounds for
equitable tolling of the statute of limitations, 2 the complaint
will be dismissed with prejudice. Ostuni v. Wa Wa's Mart, 532 F.
App’x 110, 112 (3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (affirming dismissal
with prejudice due to expiration of statute of limitations).
Equitable tolling “is only appropriate ‘(1) where the defendant
has actively misled the plaintiff respecting the plaintiff's
cause of action; (2) where the plaintiff in some extraordinary
way has been prevented from asserting his or her rights; or (3)
where the plaintiff has timely asserted his or her rights
mistakenly in the wrong forum.’” Omar v. Blackman, 590 F. App’x
162, 166 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Santos ex rel. Beato v. United
States, 559 F.3d 189, 197 (3d Cir. 2009)).
For the reasons stated above, the complaint is dismissed with
prejudice for failure to state a claim. An appropriate order
October 19, 2016
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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