THATCH v. CCCF
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 3/13/17. (jbk, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
JACOB THOMAS THATCH, JR.,
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-05888 (JBS-AMD)
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL
Jacob T. Thatch, Jr., Plaintiff Pro Se
1123 Princess Ave.
Camden, NJ 08103
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Jacob T. Thatch, Jr., seeks to bring an
amended civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against the Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”).
Amended Complaint, Docket Entry 5. On November 23, 2016,
Plaintiff’s original complaint was dismissed without prejudice
for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii). Docket Entry 4.
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, and for substantially
similar reasons as those set forth in this Court’s prior Opinion
(Docket Entry 3), the Court will dismiss the amended complaint
without prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C.
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
rights. In order to set forth a prima facie case under § 1983, a
plaintiff must show: “(1) a person deprived him of a federal
right; and (2) the person who deprived him 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
Section 1983 provides: “Every person who, under color of any
statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State .
. . 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,
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
exercising his responsibilities pursuant to state law.” Id.
Because Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged that a
“person” deprived him of a federal right, the amended complaint
does not meet the standards necessary to set forth a prima facie
case under § 1983. In the amended complaint, 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
Plaintiff may be able to amend the complaint to name a
person or persons who were personally involved in the alleged
unconstitutional conditions of confinement, however. To that
end, the Court shall grant Plaintiff leave to amend the
complaint one final time within 30 days of the date of this
Plaintiff is again advised that the amended complaint
must plead sufficient facts to support a reasonable inference
that a constitutional violation has occurred in order to survive
this Court’s review under § 1915. Plaintiff alleges that he was
incarcerated in 2000, 2001, 2012, 2014, and 2016. Am. Complaint
§ III. Plaintiff states: “I was in a cell with 3 other inmates
the living conditions were unhumane [sic] overcrowded I was
sleeping under the table, I was sleeping on the floor under a
bunk. Even in intake cell 36 & 38 I was sleeping on the floor
with trash all over the floor I have a deformed left arm & was
still on the floor. OVERCROWDED in 2001 I was in CCCF for 8
months then I went to Riverfront State Prison I’ve been in & out
for shoplifting & drug charges.” Id. Though these allegations
offer slightly greater detail than those found in Plaintiff’s
original complaint, even accepting these amended statements as
true for screening purposes only, there is still not enough
factual support for the Court to infer a constitutional
violation has occurred.
As the Court previously explained, 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,
As Plaintiff may yet be able to amend his complaint to
address the deficiencies noted by the Court,3 the Court once more
To the extent the complaint seeks relief for conditions
Plaintiff encountered during confinements ending prior to
September 26, 2014, those claims are barred by the statute of
limitations. Claims brought under § 1983 are governed by New
Jersey's two-year limitations period for personal injury. See
Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276 (1985); Dique v. N.J. State
Police, 603 F.3d 181, 185 (3d Cir. 2010). “Under federal law, a
cause of action accrues when the plaintiff knew or should have
shall grant Plaintiff leave to amend the complaint within 30
days of the date of this order. However, this shall be
Plaintiff’s final opportunity to amend the complaint for
screening purposes. If Plaintiff elects to amend a second time
and the second amended complaint is insufficient to survive the
Court’s review under § 1915, the complaint will be dismissed
with prejudice, meaning that Plaintiff will not be granted leave
to amend a third time.
Plaintiff is reminded that when an amended complaint
is filed, any previous complaints no longer perform 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 prior complaint, but the identification of
known of the injury upon which the action is based.” Montanez v.
Sec'y Pa. Dep't of Corr., 773 F.3d 472, 480 (3d Cir. 2014).
Plaintiff has alleged that he encountered unconstitutional
conditions of confinement in 2000, 2001, 2012, 2014, and 2016.
Complaint § III. The allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement at CCCF would have been immediately apparent to
Plaintiff at the time of his detention; therefore, the statute
of limitations for some of Plaintiff’s claims expired in 2002,
2003, 2014, and sometime in 2016. In the event Plaintiff elects
to file a second amended complaint, he should focus on facts
regarding his 2016 confinement and his 2014 confinement if he
was in confinement on or subsequent to September 26, 2014, even
if such confinement began before that date.
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.4 Id.
For the reasons stated above, the amended complaint is
dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim. The
Court will reopen the matter in the event Plaintiff files a
second amended complaint within the time allotted by the Court.
An appropriate order follows.
March 13, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
The second amended complaint shall be subject to screening
prior to service.
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