RUDOLPH v. OWENS et al
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 11/18/2016. (tf, n.m.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
WARDEN C. JOHNSON; CAMDEN COUNTY
BOARD OF FREEHOLDERS; METRO
POLICE CAMDEN – CHIEF THOMPSON,
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-06022 (JBS-AMD)
Jerman Rudolph, Plaintiff Pro Se
1421 Princess Ave.
Camden, NJ 08103
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Jerman Rudolph seeks to bring a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden County
Freeholders (“Freeholders”), Warden James Owens, Deputy Warden
C. Johnson, and Metro Police Chief Thompson for allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement in Camden County
Correctional Facility (“CCCF”). 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 alleges he experienced unconstitutional
conditions of confinement during his detention at the CCCF.
Complaint § III. He states: “I was place[d] in a cell with 4
others inmate each time I was to sleep under the urinals.” Id. §
III. Even accepting the statement 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 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
her confinement(s), whether he was a pretrial detainee or
convicted prisoner, etc.
Moreover, Plaintiff has not pled sufficient facts
regarding the personal liability of the Freeholders. As the
governing body of Camden County, the Freeholders cannot be held
liable under § 1983 solely on a theory of respondeat superior.
Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690–91
(1978). Plaintiff must instead plead facts showing that the
Freeholders are “responsible for either the affirmative
proclamation of a policy or acquiescence in a well-settled
custom.” Bielevicz v. Dubinon, 915 F.2d 845, 850 (3d Cir. 1990).1
In other words, Plaintiff must set forth facts supporting an
inference that the Freeholders were the “moving force” behind
the alleged constitutional violation. Monell, 436 U.S. at 689.
Likewise, Plaintiff has not pled sufficient facts to
support an inference that Warden Owens, Deputy Warden Johnson,
and Chief Thompson were each personally involved in either the
creation of, or failure to address, the conditions of his
confinement. State actors are liable only for their own
unconstitutional conduct and may not be held liable for the
unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates under a theory of
“Policy is made when a decisionmaker possess[ing] final
authority to establish municipal policy with respect to the
action issues an official proclamation, policy, or edict.
Government custom can be demonstrated by showing that a given
course of conduct, although not specifically endorsed or
authorized by law, is so well-settled and permanent as virtually
to constitute law.” Kirkland v. DiLeo, 581 F. App'x 111, 118 (3d
Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted)
(alteration in original).
respondeat superior. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676
(2009); Bistrian v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352, 366 (3d Cir. 2012).
Plaintiff may be able to amend his complaint to
address the deficiencies noted by the Court, however. To that
end, 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,2 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. Id.
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.
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
An appropriate order follows.
November 18, 2016
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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