DAVIS v. STATE OF NEW JERSEY
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 2/7/2017. (TH, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
NAKEEMA Z. DAVIS,
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-06699 (JBS-AMD)
STATE OF NEW JERSEY,
Nakeema Z. Davis, Plaintiff Pro Se
293 Ablett Village
Camden, NJ 08105
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Nakeema Z. Davis seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State
of New Jersey. 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
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 presumably seeks monetary damages1 from the
State of New Jersey for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement. The Eleventh Amendment to the United States
Constitution provides: “The Judicial power of the United States
shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity,
commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by
Plaintiff has not stated specific requested relief in the
Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any
Foreign State.” U.S. Const. amend. XI. Plaintiff may not bring a
suit against the State in federal court unless Congress has
expressly abrogated New Jersey's sovereign immunity or the State
consents to being sued in federal court. Will v. Michigan Dep't
of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989). Here, Congress did not
expressly abrogate sovereign immunity when it passed § 1983, see
id., and there is no indication New Jersey has consented to
Plaintiff's suit. The claims against the State of New Jersey
therefore must be dismissed with prejudice.
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.
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 she experienced
unconstitutional conditions during “several” confinements at the
Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”) between 2010 and
2016. Complaint § III. The fact section of the complaint states:
“During the whole time of my stay I was sleeping on a thin mat
on the floor. With two sheets, a half of towel and a thin wool
blanket near the toilet or under the bed by the door.” Id. 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.
As Plaintiff may be able to amend her complaint to
address the deficiencies noted by the Court,2 the Court shall
grant Plaintiff leave to amend the complaint within 30 days of
the date of this order.3
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
To the extent the complaint seeks relief for conditions
Plaintiff encountered during confinements prior to October 7,
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). Plaintiff
was detained at the CCCF from March 7, 2011 to March 8, 2011;
January 18, 2013 to February 8, 2013; March 25, 2013 to April
11, 2013; October 2, 2013 to October 11, 2013; December 19, 2013
to January 24, 2014; and September 24, 2016 to September 26,
2016. Complaint, Ex. 1. The allegedly unconstitutional
conditions of confinement at CCCF would have been immediately
apparent to Plaintiff at the time of her detention; therefore,
the statute of limitations for some of Plaintiff's claims
expired in 2013, 2015, and 2016, respectively. In the event
Plaintiff elects to file an amended complaint, she should focus
on facts of her September 24, 2016 confinement.
3 The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
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.
An appropriate order follows.
February 7, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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