LARM v. CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 3/30/2017. (dmr)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL
No. 16-cv-05868 (JBS-AMD)
Rachel Larm, Plaintiff Pro Se
430 West Browning Road
Bellmawr, NJ 08031
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Rachel Larm seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden County
Correctional Facility (“CCCF”), Correctional Officers, and the
Warden. Complaint, Docket Entry 1. Based on Plaintiff’s
affidavit of indigency, the application to proceed in forma
pauperis is granted.
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
For the reasons set forth below, the Court will
dismiss the complaint without prejudice for failure to state a
claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).
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). “[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 brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 19831 for alleged violations of Plaintiff’s constitutional
Section 1983 provides: “Every person who, under color of any
statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State .
rights. In order to set forth a prima facie case under § 1983, a
plaintiff must show: “(1) a person deprived [her] of a federal
right; and (2) the person who deprived [her] 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)).2 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
. . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the
United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to
the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured
by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party
injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper
proceeding for redress . . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
2 “Person” is not strictly limited to individuals who are state
and local government employees, however. For example,
municipalities and other local government units, such as
counties, also are considered “persons” for purposes of § 1983.
See Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658,
exercising his responsibilities pursuant to state law.” Id.
Because Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged that a
person deprived her of a federal right, the complaint does not
meet the standards necessary to set forth a prima facie case
under § 1983. Plaintiff alleges: “I was placed in a 2 person
cell with 4 and at times 5 people in unsanitary conditions.”
Complaint § III. She further states, “The Camden County
Correctional Facility placed me in unsanitary conditions in over
populated cells – The Warden, Correctional Officers.” Id.
Plaintiff also states that CCCF “illegally strip searched me . .
. .” Id. § II. Even accepting these statements as true for
screening purposes only, there is not enough factual support for
the Court to infer a constitutional violation has occurred.
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 F. App'x 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 dates and length of
the confinement(s), whether Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee or
convicted prisoner, etc.
Moreover, Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged a
Fourth Amendment violation for an improper strip search. Under
the Fourth Amendment, inmates have a limited right of bodily
privacy “subject to reasonable intrusions necessitated by the
prison setting.” Parkell v. Danberg, 833 F.3d 313, 325 (3d Cir.
2016). This right is very narrow, however. Id. at 326.
“The test of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment
. . . requires a balancing of the need for the particular search
against the invasion of personal rights that the search entails.
Courts must consider the scope of the particular intrusion, the
manner in which it is conducted, the justification for
initiating it, and the place in which it is conducted.” Bell v.
Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 559 (1979). A prisoner search policy is
constitutional if it strikes a reasonable balance between the
inmate's privacy and the needs of the institution. Parkell, 833
F.3d at 326 (citing Florence v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders of
Cty. of Burlington, 132 S. Ct. 1510, 1515, 1517 (2012)).
Plaintiff’s cursory allegation that she was “illegally
strip searched” is insufficient to state a claim for relief. In
the absence of further facts regarding the circumstances of the
search, the claim cannot proceed at this time. Plaintiff may
amend this claim in an amended complaint, however.
In addition, though correctional officers and the
Warden may be proper defendants in a § 1983 action, the CCCF may
not be sued under § 1983. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from
CCCF 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)). Because 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.
As Plaintiff may be able to amend her complaint to
address the deficiencies noted by the Court, the Court shall
grant Plaintiff leave to amend the complaint within 30 days of
the date of this order.
Plaintiff should note that when an amended complaint
is filed, the original complaint no longer performs any function
in the case and cannot be utilized to cure defects in the
amended complaint, unless the relevant portion is specifically
incorporated in the new complaint. 6 Wright, Miller & Kane,
Federal Practice and Procedure 1476 (2d ed. 1990) (footnotes
omitted). An amended complaint may adopt some or all of the
allegations in the original complaint, but the identification of
the particular allegations to be adopted must be clear and
explicit. Id. To avoid confusion, the safer course is to file an
amended complaint that is complete in itself.3 Id.
For the reasons stated above, the claims against the
CCCF are dismissed with prejudice. The remainder of the
complaint is dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a
claim. The Court will reopen the matter in the event Plaintiff
files an amended complaint within the time allotted by the
An appropriate order follows.
March 30, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
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