SANTANA v. CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL
OPINION. Signed by Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 9/27/17. (jbk, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
CHAROLYN M. SANTANA,
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL,
No. 16-cv-06484 (JBS-AMD)
Charolyn M. Santana, Plaintiff Pro Se
433 N. 7th Street, Apt 4P
Camden, NJ 08102
SIMANDLE, District Judge:
Plaintiff Charolyn M. Santana seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden
County Jail (“CCJ”) for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1. Based on Plaintiff’s
affidavit of indigency, the Court will grant her application to
proceed in forma pauperis.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) requires courts to review
complaints prior to service in cases in which a plaintiff is
proceeding in forma pauperis. Courts 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: (1)
dismiss the Complaint with prejudice as to claims made against
CCJ; and (2) dismiss the Complaint without prejudice for failure
to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii), except that
claims relating to conditions of confinement arising prior to
October 4, 2014, are dismissed with prejudice.
Claims Against CCJ: Dismissed With Prejudice
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 [her] of a federal
right; and (2) the person who deprived [her] 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
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.
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
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 the Complaint has not sufficiently alleged
that a “person” deprived Plaintiff of a federal right, the
Complaint does not meet the standards necessary to set forth a
prima facie case under § 1983. In the Complaint, Plaintiff seeks
monetary damages from CCJ for allegedly unconstitutional
conditions of confinement. The CCJ, 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
“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,
subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.”) (citing Fischer v.
Cahill, 474 F.2d 991, 992 (3d Cir. 1973)); Grabow v. Southern
State Corr. Facility, 726 F. Supp. 537, 538–39 (D.N.J. 1989)
(correctional facility is not a “person” under § 1983). Given
that the claims against the CCJ must be dismissed with
prejudice, the claims may not proceed and Plaintiff may not name
the CCJ as a defendant.
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 within 30 days of the date of this order.
Conditions Of Confinement Claims:
Dismissed Without Prejudice
Second, 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).
The present Complaint does not allege sufficient facts
to support a reasonable inference that a constitutional
violation has occurred in order to survive this Court’s review
under § 1915. Even accepting the statements in Plaintiff’s
Complaint as true for screening purposes only, there is not
enough factual support for the Court to infer a constitutional
violation has occurred.
To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a
claim3, 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)). Moreover, while pro se pleadings are liberally
construed, “pro se litigants still must allege sufficient facts
in their complaints to support a claim.” Mala v. Crown Bay
Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation
omitted) (emphasis added).
“The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to
state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the
same as that for dismissing a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” Samuels v. Health Dep’t, No. 161289, 2017 WL 26884, slip op. at *2 (D.N.J. Jan. 3, 2017)
(citing Schreane v. Seana, 506 F. App’x 120, 122 (3d Cir.
2012)); Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000));
Mitchell v. Beard, 492 F. App’x 230, 232 (3d Cir. 2012)
(discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1)); Courteau v. United States,
287 F. App’x 159, 162 (3d Cir. 2008) (discussing 28 U.S.C. §
A 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.
However, with respect to the alleged facts giving rise
to Plaintiff’s claims, the present Complaint states: “2008-2016
lack of medical, no sanitary supplies. 2008-2016 COs discussing
other inmates issues. No hot water. 2015 was almost mazed [sic]
by Sargent while having a[n] asthma attach because I was telling
them I need medical ASAP.” Complaint § III(C).
Plaintiff states this occurred on August 23, 2015 at
9am, August 19 to September 7, 2015, April 12 to June 12, 2016,
as well as 2008, 2009 and 2010. Id. § III(B)
Plaintiff left the injury section of her complaint
blank. Id. § IV.
With respect to requested relief, Plaintiff requests
that the state fix the issues in the jail. Id. § V.4
Given Plaintiff’s reference to the “class action lawsuit”
(Complaint § VI), the Court advises Plaintiff that she is
one of thousands of members of a certified class in a case
on this Court's docket captioned Dittimus-Bey, et al. v.
Taylor, et al., Civil Action No. 1:05-cv-0063-JBS, United
States District Court for the District of New Jersey. The
class plaintiffs are all persons confined at the Camden
County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”), as either pretrial
detainees or convicted prisoners, at any time from January
6, 2005 until the present time. The Dittimus-Bey class of
plaintiffs seeks injunctive and declaratory relief
concerning allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement at the CCCF involving overcrowding. The
Dittimus-Bey class action does not involve money damages
Even construing the Complaint as seeking to bring a
civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged
prison overcrowding, any such purported claims must be dismissed
because the Complaint does not set forth sufficient factual
support for the Court to infer that a constitutional violation
Plaintiff’s remaining allegations also are
insufficient to set forth a prima facie case under § 1983.
Plaintiff offers vague and cursory allegations about “lack of
medical,” “no sanitary supplies,” “no hot water,” and “almost
being mazed [sic].” Plaintiff does not offer further explanation
about any of these complaints to allow this Court to assess
whether there was a constitutional violation. These allegations
essentially complain “of an inconvenient and uncomfortable
situation”; however, “‘the Constitution does not mandate
comfortable prisons.’” Carson v. Mulvihill, 488 F. App'x 554,
for individuals. Various measures undertaken pursuant to
the Court-approved Second and Third Consent Decrees have
reduced the CCCF jail population to fewer prisoners than
the intended design capacity for the jail, thereby greatly
reducing or eliminating triple and quadruple bunking in
two-person cells; these details are further explained in
the Final Consent Decree, which would continue those
requirements under Court supervision for two more years.
This class action did not provide monetary compensation to
the class members. The settlement did not bar any
individual class member from seeking money damages in an
560 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 349); see also,
Marnin v. Pinto, 463 F.2d 583, 584 (3d Cir. 1972) (“blanket
statements alleging bad food and miserable living conditions in
the prison” were “naked statements [that do not] ordinarily
merit Federal court intervention”).
Further, Plaintiff contends that there was “no medical
care.” Complaint § III. This vague allegation is insufficient to
plead unconstitutional conditions of confinement as to the
adequacy of medical care.
The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
applies to pretrial detainees’ claims of inadequate medical
care. Bocchino v. City of Atlantic City, 179 F. Supp.3d 387, 403
(D.N.J. 2016). “[T]he Fourteenth Amendment in this context
incorporates the protections of the Eighth Amendment” (Holder v.
Merline, No. 05-1024, 2005 WL 1522130, at *3 (D.N.J. June 27,
2005) (citing Simmons v. City of Philadelphia, 947 F.2d 1042,
1067 (3d Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 503 U.S. 985 (1992)), and
most cases have stated that, at a minimum, the Eighth
Amendment’s “deliberate indifference” standard will suffice. In
other words, substantive due process rights are violated only
when the behavior of the government official is so egregious and
outrageous that it “shocks the conscience.” A.M. ex rel. J.M.K.
v. Luzerne Cnty. Juvenile Detention Ctr., 372 F.3d 572, 579 (3d
Cir. 2004) (citing County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833,
Applying this principle in the context of a claim for
violation of the right to adequate medical care, a pretrial
detainee must allege the following two elements to set forth a
cognizable cause of action: (1) a serious medical need; and (2)
behavior on the part of prison officials that constitutes
deliberate indifference to that need. Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Natale v. Camden Cnty. Corr. Facility, 318
F.3d 575, 582 (3d Cir. 2003).
Here, Plaintiff’s non-specific assertions regarding
“no medical care” (Complaint § III) is insufficient to meet this
pleading standard. Plaintiff offers no facts to satisfy either
of the two prongs required for her a Medical Care Claim.
Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106; Natale, 318 F.3d at 582.
Moreover, to the extent the complaint seeks relief for
conditions Plaintiff encountered during periods of confinement
ending prior to October 4, 2014, those claims are barred by the
statute of limitations and must be dismissed with prejudice,
meaning that Plaintiff cannot recover for those claims because
they have been brought too late.5 Civil rights claims under
§ 1983 are governed by New Jersey's limitations period for
Plaintiff filed this complaint on October 4, 2016.
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. 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).
Plaintiff alleges the events giving rise to her claims
occurred in 2008 to 2010 as well as on August 23, 2015, August
19 to September 7, 2015, and April 12 to June 12, 2016.
Complaint § III. The allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement at CCJ would have been immediately apparent to
Plaintiff at the time of her detention; therefore, the statute
of limitations for Plaintiff’s claims arising from her 2008 to
2010 incarcerations expired before this complaint was filed in
2016. Plaintiff therefore cannot recover for these claims.6
Plaintiff may be able to amend the Complaint to
particularly identify adverse conditions that were caused by
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 his cause of action, there are no
extraordinary circumstances that prevented Plaintiff from filing
his claim, and there is nothing to indicate Plaintiff filed his
claim on time but in the wrong forum. See Omar v. Blackman, 590
F. App’x 162, 166 (3d Cir. 2014).
specific state actors, that caused Plaintiff to endure genuine
privations and hardship over an extended period of time, and
that were excessive in relation to their purposes. To that end,
the Court shall grant Plaintiff leave to amend the Complaint
within 30 days of the date of this order.7
Plaintiff is further advised that any amended
complaint must plead specific facts regarding the conditions of
confinement. In the event Plaintiff files an amended complaint,
Plaintiff 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. As discussed above,
if Plaintiff elects to file an amended complaint, it should be
limited to confinements in which Plaintiff was released after
October 4, 2014.
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 amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
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: (a)
dismissed with prejudice as to the CCJ; and (b) dismissed
without prejudice for failure to state a claim, except that
claims arising prior to October 4, 2014, are dismissed with
An appropriate order follows.
September 27, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
U.S. District Judge
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