SAUNDERS v. CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY et al

Filing 10

OPINION. Signed by Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 8/22/2017. (rtm, )

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY MICHAEL L. SAUNDERS, HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE Plaintiff, Civil Action No. 16-6901(JBS-AMD) v. CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; WARDEN DAVID OWENS; FREEHOLDERS, OPINION Defendants. APPEARANCES: Michael L. Saunders, Plaintiff Pro Se 518 Trenton Ave Camden, N J 08103 SIMANDLE, District Judge: INTRODUCTION Michael L. Saunders seeks to bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”), David Owens, and Freeholders. Complaint, Docket Entry 1. At this time, the Court must review the complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. For the reasons set forth below it is clear from the complaint that the claim arose more than two years before the complaint was filed. It is therefore barred by the two-year statute of limitations that governs claims of unconstitutional conduct under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court will therefore dismiss the complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii). II. BACKGROUND Plaintiff alleges he was detained in the CCCF during 2005, 2009, and 2012, “each time for several months before being transferred to state prison.” Complaint § III. He further states: “Each times of my incarceration slept on the floor in a room with 3 other inmates. These inmates repeatedly step over top of me to use the toilet during the night.” Id. He further alleges that the units were so crowded, he often had to stand to eat meals. Id. He further alleges that the shower area was dirty, law library time was limited, and the kitchen was infested with mice. He further alleges that staph infections and boils were common. Id. III. STANDARD OF REVIEW Section 1915(e)(2) requires a court to review complaints prior to service of the summons and complaint 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 2 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. 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) (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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). IV. DISCUSSION Plaintiff’s complaint alleges that he experienced unconstitutional conditions of confinement while he was detained in the CCCF in 2005, 2009 and 2012. Civil rights claims under § 1983 are governed by New Jersey's limitations period for personal injury and must be brought within two years of the 3 claim’s accrual. See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276 (1985); Dique v. New Jersey 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) (quoting Kach v. Hose, 589 F.3d 626, 634 (3d Cir. 2009)). The allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement at CCCF, namely the alleged overcrowding, would have been immediately apparent to Plaintiff at the time of his detention; therefore, the statute of limitations for Plaintiff’s claims expired in 2014 at the latest, well before this complaint was filed in 2016. Plaintiff has filed his lawsuit too late. Although the Court may toll, or extend, the statute of limitations in the interests of justice, certain circumstances must be present before it can do so. Tolling is not warranted in this case because the state has not “actively misled” Plaintiff as to the existence of his cause of action, there are no extraordinary circumstances that prevented Plaintiff from filing his claim, and there is nothing to indicate Plaintiff filed his claim on time but in the wrong forum. See Omar v. Blackman, 590 F. App’x 162, 166 (3d Cir. 2014). As it is clear from the face of the complaint that more than two years have passed since Plaintiff’s claims accrued, the 4 complaint is dismissed with prejudice, meaning he may not file an amended complaint concerning the events of 2005, 2009, and 2012. Ostuni v. Wa Wa's Mart, 532 F. App’x 110, 112 (3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (affirming dismissal with prejudice due to expiration of statute of limitations). V. CONCLUSION For the reasons stated above, the complaint is dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim. An appropriate order follows. August 22, 2017 Date s/ Jerome B. Simandle JEROME B. SIMANDLE U.S. District Judge 5

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