WATSON v. CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
OPINION FILED. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 1/18/17. (js)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
KEVIN G. WATSON,
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-06505 (JBS-AMD)
Kevin G. Watson, Plaintiff Pro Se
401 Gregorys Way
Voorhees, NJ 08043
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Kevin G. Watson seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden
County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”). Complaint, Docket Entry
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). “[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 CCCF for
allegedly unconstitutional conditions of 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, 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. 1973)).
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 alleges he experienced
unconstitutional conditions of confinement on September 14,
2011, July 24, 2013, September 29, 2013, December 18, 2014,
January 15, 2015, May 1, 2015, and October 13, 2016.2 Complaint §
III. In the factual portion of the complaint, Plaintiff states:
“Was stripped searched, forced to get bu[ck] naked, not in front
of one officer, but two, forced to spread my [buttocks] . . .
was very uncomfortable and embarrassed. Also living conditions,
mild[ew] in shower and rooms, eating conditions are unsanitary.
3 people sometimes 4 to 5 in a room . . . .” Complaint § III.
Even accepting these statements as true for screening purposes
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
2 Given that Plaintiff filed his complaint on October 5, 2016,
the Court presumes the October 13, 2016, date is an error.
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
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
Moreover, Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged a
Fourth Amendment violation for an improper strip search. Under
the Fourth Amendment, inmates have a limited right of bodily
privacy “subject to reasonable intrusions necessitated by the
prison setting.” Parkell v. Danberg, 833 F.3d 313, 325 (3d Cir.
2016). This right is very narrow, however. Id. at 326.
“The test of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment
. . . requires a balancing of the need for the particular search
against the invasion of personal rights that the search entails.
Courts must consider the scope of the particular intrusion, the
To the extent the complaint seeks relief for conditions
Plaintiff encountered during confinements prior to September 29,
2014, 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 CCJ
would have been immediately apparent to Plaintiff at the time of
his detention; therefore, the statute of limitations for some of
Plaintiff's claims expired sometime in 2013 and 2015,
respectively. Plaintiff’s claims arising from events or
conditions he encountered on September 14, 2011, July 24, 2013,
and September 29, 2013, are therefore dismissed with prejudice.
In the event Plaintiff elects to file an amended complaint, he
should focus on facts of his 2014 and 2015 confinements.
manner in which it is conducted, the justification for
initiating it, and the place in which it is conducted.” Bell v.
Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 559 (1979). A prisoner search policy is
constitutional if it strikes a reasonable balance between the
inmate's privacy and the needs of the institution. Parkell, 833
F.3d at 326 (citing Florence v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders of
Cty. of Burlington, 132 S. Ct. 1510, 1515, 1517 (2012)).
Plaintiff’s cursory allegations that the strip search
was uncomfortable and embarrassing is insufficient to state a
claim for relief. In the absence of further facts regarding the
circumstances of the search, the claim cannot proceed at this
time. Plaintiff may amend this claim in an amended complaint,
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. 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.
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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