SMITH v. CAMDEN N.J. JAIL
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 4/13/2017. (tf, n.m.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL
FACILITY, DAVID OWENS, CAMDEN
COUNTY BOARD OF FREEHOLDERS,
MAYOR DANA REDD and WARDEN
Carlos Smith, Plaintiff Pro Se
532 Freson Drive
Magnolia, NJ 08049
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Carlos Smith sought to bring a civil rights
Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden County
Jail (“CCJ”) for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement. Complaint dated October 4, 2016, Docket Entry 1.
Thereafter, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint dated November
29, 2016 (Docket Entry 3), seeking to bring civil rights claims
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Camden County Correctional
Facility (“CCCF”), David Owens, Camden County Board of
Freeholders, Mayor Dana Redd and Warden James Taylor for
allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement.
At this time, the Court must review Plaintiff’s complaint
filings, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), to determine
whether they should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or
because they seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune
from such relief. For the reasons set forth below: (1) it is
clear from the Complaint that the claims therein arose more than
two years before it was filed; and (2) it is clear from the
proposed Amended Complaint that the claims therein arose more
than two years before it was filed. The claims in both the
Complaint and the Amended Complaint are therefore barred by the
two-year statute of limitations that governs claims of
unconstitutional conduct under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court will
therefore dismiss the Complaint and the Amended Complaint with
prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. §
The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff “was detain[ed] in
[CCJ] [in] Aug. 2008[.] [T]here were 4 in my cell. We couldn’t
move around.” Complaint §§ III(B)-(C). Plaintiff claims to have
suffered back pain in connection with these events. Id. § IV.
Plaintiff sought $1,700 in relief “for my pain and suffer[ing].”
Id. § V.
The Amended Complaint alleges that Plaintiff “was placed in
a cell with 3 other people and placed on the floor [in] 1998,
2001, 2003, 2005 [and] 2008.” Amended Complaint §§ III(B)-(C).
Plaintiff does not identify or otherwise describe any injuries.
Id. § IV (blank). Plaintiff “want[s] to be compensated for
mental anguish, mental stress and for violating my civil rights.
I would like the amount of $1.3 million.” Id. § V.
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Section 1915(e)(2) requires a court to review complaints
prior to service of the summons and complaint 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.
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)).
The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff experienced
unconstitutional conditions of confinement while incarcerated in
“Aug. 2008.” Complaint § III(B) (Docket Entry 1). The Amended
Complaint alleges that Plaintiff experienced unconstitutional
conditions of confinement while incarcerated in “1998, 2001,
2003, 2005 [and] 2008.” Amended Complaint § III(B) (Docket Entry
Civil rights claims under § 1983 are governed by New
Jersey's limitations period for personal injury and must be
brought within two years of the claim’s accrual. See Wilson v.
Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276 (1985); Dique v. New Jersey 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)
(quoting Kach v. Hose, 589 F.3d 626, 634 (3d Cir. 2009)).
The allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement,
namely the purported overcrowding and sleeping conditions in
cells, would have been immediately apparent to Plaintiff at the
time of detention; therefore, the statute of limitations for
Plaintiff’s claims in both the Complaint and the Amended
Complaint expired in 2010 at the latest, well before they were
filed in 2016. Plaintiff has filed this lawsuit too late.
Although the Court may toll, or extend, the statute of
limitations in the interests of justice, certain circumstances
must be present before it can do so. Tolling is not warranted in
this case because the state has not “actively misled” Plaintiff
as to the existence of Plaintiff’s cause of action, there are no
extraordinary circumstances that prevented Plaintiff from filing
the claim, and there is nothing to indicate Plaintiff filed the
claim on time but in the wrong forum. See Omar v. Blackman, 590
F. App’x 162, 166 (3d Cir. 2014).
As it is clear from the face of both the Complaint and the
Amended Complaint that more than two years have passed since
Plaintiff’s claims accrued, both the Complaint and the Amended
Complaint are dismissed with prejudice, meaning Plaintiff may
not file another amended complaint concerning the events of
“2008” (Complaint § III(B)) or the events of “1998, 2001, 2003,
2005 [and] 2008.” Amended Complaint § III(B). Ostuni v. Wa Wa's
Mart, 532 F. App’x 110, 112 (3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam)
(affirming dismissal with prejudice due to expiration of statute
For the reasons stated above, the Complaint and Amended
Complaint are dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a
claim. An appropriate order follows.
April 13, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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