COLEMAN v. CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY et al
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 3/8/2017. (dmr)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HANK T. COLEMAN,
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL
FACILITY; WARDEN JAMES OWENS;
DEPUTY WARDEN C. JOHNSON;
CAMDEN COUNTY BOARD OF
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-06077 (JBS-AMD)
Hank T. Coleman, Plaintiff Pro Se
1339 Thurman St.
Camden, NJ 08104
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Hank T. Coleman seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden
County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”), Warden James Owens
(“Warden”), Deputy Warden C. Johnson (“Deputy Warden”), and the
Camden County Board of Freeholders (“Freeholders”). 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 alleges he experienced unconstitutional
conditions of confinement while detained at the CCCF in or
“around 2009, 2010, 2012, [and] 2014.”
Complaint § III. The
fact section of the complaint states: “I was picked up by the
bounty hunter’s [sic] and taken to the jail. I was on the floor
because I was assigned to a 2 room cell at the time it was 4
[people] already in the [sic] I was urinated on by inmates and
my food also.” Id. Plaintiff further alleges: “I was injured
when I had a seizure hit my head on bunk and toilet and went to
medical for no treatment just to rest til I came through.” Id.
§ IV. 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[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.
In addition, to the extent that Plaintiff seeks to
allege a claim based on a violation of his right to adequate
medical care, there are not enough facts to support an inference
that Plaintiff’s rights were violated in this regard. In order
to set forth a cognizable claim for a violation of his right to
adequate medical care, an inmate must allege: (1) a serious
medical need; and (2) behavior on the part of prison officials
that constitutes deliberate indifference to that need. See
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Natale v. Camden
Cnty. Corr. Facility, 318 F.3d 575, 582 (3d Cir. 2003).
Plaintiff’s allegations regarding his seizure and that he “went
to medical for no treatment just to rest til [he] came through”
are insufficient to meet the pleading standard in the absence of
additional facts. If he wishes to pursue this claim, Plaintiff
should provide additional facts supporting both of the
requirements in his amended complaint.
Moreover, Plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts
to support an inference that the named Defendants are personally
liable for the alleged constitutional violations.
Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from CCCF for the
allegedly unconstitutional conditions of his confinement. As the
CCCF is not a “state actor” within the meaning of § 1983, 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.
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
“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
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.
Similarly, Plaintiff has not pled sufficient facts to
support an inference that the Warden and Deputy Warden were
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 respondeat superior. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009); Bistrian v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352,
366 (3d Cir. 2012). Plaintiff has made no allegations regarding
the conduct or actions of either the Warden or Deputy Warden.
As Plaintiff may be able to amend his complaint to
address the deficiencies noted by the Court,2 the Court shall
to constitute law.” Kirkland v. DiLeo, 581 F. App'x 111, 118 (3d
Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted)
(alteration in original).
2 To the extent the complaint seeks relief for conditions
Plaintiff encountered during his confinements in 2009, 2010, and
2012, those claims are barred by the statute of limitations.
Claims brought under § 1983 are governed by New Jersey's twoyear 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 at CCCF
would have been immediately apparent to Plaintiff at the time of
his detention; therefore, the statute of limitations for these
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 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.
claims expired in 2011, 2012, and 2014, respectively. In the
event Plaintiff elects to file an amended complaint, he should
focus on the facts of his 2014 confinement, provided that
Plaintiff’s confinement ended after September 29, 2014. Because
Plaintiff filed his complaint on September 29, 2016, claims
arising from confinements ending prior to September 29, 2014,
are also barred by the statute of limitations.
3 The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
An appropriate order follows.
March 8, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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