PILIRO v. CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 5/1/2017. (TH, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
ROCCO J. PILIRO,
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL,
Rocco J. Piliro, Plaintiff Pro Se
308 Wiltshire Drive
Collings Lakes, NJ 08094
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Rocco J. Piliro 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.
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).
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 him of a federal
right; and (2) the person who deprived him 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
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
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.
2 “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.
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
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
See Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658,
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
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
“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
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).
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.
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. §
However, with respect to the alleged facts giving rise
to his claims, Plaintiff’s Complaint here states: “I know every
time I was in there I had to sleep on the floor cause [sic]
bottom bunks was [sic] taken and I was detoxing from alcohole
[sic][.] [I] was a drunk and popped xanies4 [sic] like
skittles[.] [T]he[y] never gave me nothing [sic] when I came
in[.] I had to wait until I wash [sic] shaking & throwing up
blood. The nurse stuck me in a holding cell with 8-10 guys until
the c/o’s processed us and she didn’t give us any meds.”
Complaint § III(C).
With respect to dates and times of the purported
events giving rise to his claims, Plaintiff states that he is
“unsure of dates due to car accident[.] [M]y long term memory is
off.” Id. § III(B)
With respect to alleged injuries from the events
giving rise to his claims, Plaintiff contends that he “went
threw [sic] trembers [sic] from drinking [and] seizure from
xanies. Nothing was done [un]til 3 days later when they let us
out of the cell & I collapsed. [T]hen they took us to the
medical unit. I should of [sic] been medicated for the drinking
and the pills from the door but the nurse didn’t want to here
[sic] nothing I said.” Id. § IV.
This Court construes Plaintiff’s use of the term “xanies” to
refer to the medication Xanax.
With respect to requested relief, Plaintiff seeks
monetary compensation: “I should be [compensated] [because] I
was hurt[.] [W]hen I fell I hit my head and it took to[o] long
to be medicated.” Complaint § V.
This Court construes Plaintiff’s damages claim to also
include a request for injunctive relief: “There has been [sic] a
few warden[s] since I been there thru [sic] the yrs [sic] but
they are the same[.] [T]he[y] never come out [of] the cushy
office. They need someone who will actually make sure his jail
is not treating you like cage animals and treat us like humans.
We made [a] mistake but don’t treat us like animals[.] [T]reat
us as we are husmans [sic]. People in P/C getting treated better
why cause they are rats.” Id. § V. However, Plaintiff’s claim
for prospective injunctive relief must be dismissed as moot.
Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated at the CCJ. Plaintiff
therefore lacks standing to seek injunctive relief because he is
no longer subject to the allegedly unconstitutional conditions
he seeks to challenge. Abdul-Akbar v. Watson, 4 F.3d 195, 206-07
(3d Cir. 1993); Weaver v. Wilcox, 650 F.2d 22, 27 (3d Cir.
Given that Plaintiff seeks a court injunction rather than money
damages, the Court further advises Plaintiff that he 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
Even construing the Complaint to assert claims against
“c/o’s in holding / the nurse / doctor / the c/o’s in 7 day and
the social worker, administrator and the warden” (Complaint §
I(C)), Plaintiff’s 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
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 for
individuals. There is a proposed final settlement of DittimusBey, which this Court preliminarily approved on February 22,
2017. That February 22 preliminary approval describes the
proposed settlement in detail. 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 twoperson cells; these details are further explained in the
proposed Sixth and Final Consent Decree, which would continue
those requirements under Court supervision for two more years.
According to the Notice Of Class Action Settlement approved in
the Dittimus-Bey case on February 22, 2017, any class member can
object to the proposed settlement by filing an objection in the
Dittimus-Bey case before April 24, 2017. A final hearing is set
for May 23, 2017, at which time the Court will consider any
objections to the settlement. If the Dittimus-Bey settlement is
finally approved after the May 23, 2017 hearing, Plaintiff and
other class members will be barred from seeking injunctive or
declaratory relief for the period of time from January 6, 2005
until the date of final approval, but the settlement does not
bar any individual class member from seeking money damages in an
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 length of the
confinement(s), whether plaintiff was a pretrial detainee or
convicted prisoner, any specific individuals who were involved
in creating or failing to remedy the conditions of confinement,
any other relevant facts regarding the conditions of
There are also not enough facts in Plaintiff’s
Complaint for the Court to infer that he was denied adequate
medical care. In order to set forth a cognizable claim for
violation of the right to adequate medical care, an inmate must
allege: (1) a serious medical need; and (2) behavior on the part
of prison officials that constitutes deliberate indifference to
that need. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976);
Natale v. Camden Cnty. Corr. Facility, 318 F.3d 575, 582 (3d
Cir. 2003). Mere assertions such as those that Plaintiff “was
hurt when I fell[,] should of [sic] been medicated for the
drinking and the pills[,] [and] the[y] never gave me nothing
when I . . . wash [sic] shaking and throwing up blood [when I]
came in” (Complaint §§ III(C), IV, V) are insufficient to meet
the pleading standard.
Furthermore, Plaintiff may have disagreed with the
treatment that CCJ provided (“[W]hen I came in [. . .] I [had]
popped xanies like Skittles [and] . . . [t]he nurse didn’t give
me any meds” (Complaint § III(C)); “I should of [sic] been
medicated for the drinking and the pills” (id. § IV); “It took
to[o] long to be medicated” (id. § V), but he does not contend
that he was denied treatment. Rather, Plaintiff’s Complaint
suggests that he disagreed with the medicinal treatment afforded
him by CCJ. However, disagreement with the kind of medical care
received does not state a viable claim for relief. Innis v.
Wilson, 334 F. App’x 454, 456-57 (3d Cir. 2009). See also
Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d 218, 235 (3d Cir. 2004) (“mere
disagreement as to the proper medical treatment” is insufficient
to state a constitutional violation). A prisoner is not entitled
to the medical treatment of her choice. See Reed v. Cameron, 380
F. App’x 160, 162 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Monmouth County Corr.
Inst. Inmates v. Lanzaro, 834 F.2d 326, 346 (3d Cir. 1987))
(dissatisfaction with prison medical care is insufficient to
show the requisite “deliberate indifference” by prison officials
needed to assert a cognizable Fourteenth Amendment claim for
violation of the right to adequate medical care).
If Plaintiff wishes to pursue a claim for denial of
adequate medical care, he should provide in an amended complaint
sufficient facts supporting both of the requirements of a claim
of inadequate medical care. Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106 (setting
forth elements of a claim for inadequate medical care: (1) a
serious medical need; and (2) behavior on the part of prison
officials that constitutes deliberate indifference to that
need); Natale, 318 F.3d at 582.
With respect to his overcrowded conditions of
confinement claim, Plaintiff may be able to amend the Complaint
to particularly identify adverse conditions that were caused by
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.6
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.
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 CCJ; and (b) dismissed
without prejudice for failure to state a claim.
An appropriate order follows.
May 1, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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