GAFFNEY v. CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 11/18/2016. (TH, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-05995 (JBS-AMD)
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL,
Thomas E. Gaffney, Plaintiff Pro Se
917 Koehler St.
Gloucester City, NJ 08030
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Thomas E. Gaffney seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden
County Jail (“CCJ”). Complaint, Docket Entry 1.
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.
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) (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 monetary damages from CCJ for
allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. As the CCJ
is not a “state actor” within the meaning of § 1983, the claims
against it must be dismissed with prejudice. See Crawford v.
McMillian, No. 16-3412, 2016 WL 6134846 (3d Cir. Oct. 21, 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.
Plaintiff may be able to amend the complaint to name
state actors 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 within 30 days of the date of this order.1
Plaintiff is 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 indicates he slept on the
floor of the CCJ at various times between 2008 and 2009 and 2013
and 2015. Complaint § III. He further states at times there were
as many as five people in the cell at a time, as well as “rats &
bugs all over, food cold, over crowded.” Id. Even accepting the
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
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
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 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
In the event Plaintiff files an amended complaint, he
should include specific facts, such as the dates and length of
his confinement(s), whether he was a pretrial detainee or
convicted prisoner, any specific individuals who were involved
in creating or failing to remedy the conditions of confinement,
and any other relevant facts regarding the conditions of
confinement. Conclusory statements are not enough.
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,2 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. Id. The amended
complaint may not adopt or repeat claims that have been
dismissed with prejudice by the Court.
For the reasons stated above, 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 Court.
An appropriate order follows.
November 18, 2016
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
To the extent the complaint seeks relief for conditions
Plaintiff encountered during 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 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). The allegedly unconstitutional
conditions of confinement would have been immediately apparent
to Plaintiff; therefore, the statute of limitations on some of
Plaintiff’s claims expired two years after his release. In the
event Plaintiff elects to file an amended complaint, he should
limit his complaint to confinements in which he was released
after September 26, 2014.
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