FITZPATRICK v. CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 2/2/2017. (tf, n.m.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-06751 (JBS-AMD)
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL,
Plaintiff Pro Se
1 Wilcox Lane
Blackwood, NJ 08012
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Samantha Fitzpatrick seeks 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, Docket Entry 1.
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).
Plaintiff’s Complaint states in its entirety: “It was
always over crowded so I ended up on the floor. It was very
cold[.] People were walking over you and on you. It didn’t
matter who you told[;] no one cared and it seemed normal because
almost everyone had to. Women would argue over who was getting a
bunk.” Complaint § III(C). Plaintiff alleges that she “got boils
from laying [sic] on the dirty floor.” Id. § IV.
Plaintiff contends that the events giving rise to her
claims occurred: “April 2009 to Aug 2009[;] Jan 2010[;] Apr
2010[;] Nov 2010[;] March 2011[;] June 2011[;] Aug 2011[;]
2012[;] 2013[;] 2014[;] different months every year since 2009.”
Id. § III(B).
Plaintiff does not describe or identify any relief sought.
Id. § V.
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
To survive sua sponte screening under § 1915(e)(2) 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 asserts claims against CCJ for allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement.
First, CCJ is not a “state actor” within the meaning of §
1983. See, e.g., Grabow v. Southern State Corr. Facility, 726 F.
Supp. 537, 538–39 (D.N.J. 1989) (correctional facility is not a
“person” under § 1983). Accordingly, the claims against CCJ must
be dismissed with prejudice.
Second, even accepting the statements 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 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.”).
As Plaintiff may be able to amend the Complaint to address
the deficiencies noted by the Court, the Court shall grant
Plaintiff leave to amend the Complaint within 30 days of the
date of this order.1 In the event Plaintiff files an amended
complaint, she should include specific facts, such as the dates
and length of Plaintiff’s confinement(s), whether Plaintiff was
a pretrial detainee or convicted prisoner, any specific
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
individuals who were involved in creating or failing to remedy
the conditions of confinement, and any other relevant facts
regarding the conditions of confinement. Conclusory statements
are not enough.
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,2 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
To the extent the complaint seeks relief for conditions
Plaintiff encountered prior to September 29, 2014, those claims
are barred by the statute of limitations. Claims brought under §
1983 are governed by New Jersey's two-year 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 would have been immediately apparent
to Plaintiff; therefore, the statute of limitations on some of
Plaintiff’s claims expired two years after her release. In the
event Plaintiff elects to file an amended complaint, she should
limit her complaint to confinements in which she was released
after September 29, 2014.
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. 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 2, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?