DEJESUS v. CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 1/17/17. (jbk, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HECTOR LUIS DEJESUS,
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-06769 (JBS-AMD)
Hector Luis DeJesus
Plaintiff Pro Se
254 S. 27th Street
Camden, NJ 08105
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Hector Luis DeJesus seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden
County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”) for allegedly
unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Complaint, Docket
Entry 1. Based on Plaintiff’s affidavit of indigency, his
application to proceed in forma pauperis is granted.
Per the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-
134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996)
(“PLRA”), district courts must review complaints prior to
service in those civil actions in which a prisoner is proceeding
in forma pauperis (see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)), seeks redress
against a governmental employee or entity (see 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b)), or brings a claim with respect to prison conditions
(see 42 U.S.C. § 1997e).
The PLRA directs district courts to
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
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.
First, the Complaint must be dismissed with prejudice
as to claims made against defendant CCCF because defendant is
not a “state actor” within the meaning of § 1983. 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)); Grabow v. Southern State Corr. Facility, 726 F.
Supp. 537, 538–39 (D.N.J. 1989) (correctional facility is not a
“person” under § 1983). Accord Perez-Guzman v. Camden County
Jail, No. 16-7291, 2017 WL 26888, at *1 (D.N.J. Jan. 3, 2017).
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 §§ III - IV of
Plaintiff’s Complaint as true for screening purposes only, there
is not enough factual support for the Court to infer that a
constitutional violation has occurred.
To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a
claim1, 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
“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. §
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).
Here, Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges that “[f]or months
and months I slept by the toilet because it was 4 men to a
cell[;] no bunks available[.] Correctional officers will put you
in a cell on the floor with just the thin mattress. Because it
[sic] was no space when inmates urinated it will splash you with
urine creating negative situations.” Complaint § III. Plaintiff
alleges that “because of the mental abuse during my stay in the
county,” he has “deprecicion [sic], flash backs, anxiety, panic
attacks” and is taking “medication for mental disorder.” Id.
Even construing the Complaint as seeking to bring an
action against “correctional officers” (id. § III), any such
purported claims must be dismissed because the Complaint does
not set forth enough factual support for the Court to infer that
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
Some relevant factors are the dates and length of
the confinement(s), whether plaintiff was a pretrial detainee or
convicted prisoner, etc.
Plaintiff may be able to amend the Complaint to
particularly identify adverse conditions that were caused by
specific state actors, that caused him 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.2
Plaintiff is further advised that his 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.
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.
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
For the reasons stated above, the Complaint is: (a)
dismissed with prejudice as to the CCCF; and (b) dismissed
without prejudice for failure to state a claim.
An appropriate order follows.
January 17, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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