RUTHERFORD v. CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY et al
OPINION FILED. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 2/7/17. (js)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-06925 (JBS-AMO)
WARDEN JAMES OWENS,
WARDEN J. TAYLOR, and
CAMDEN COUNTY BOARD
William Rut~erford, Plaintiff Pro Se
3015 Stevens Street
Camden, NJ 88103
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff William Rutherford seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
1983 against the Camden
County Correctional Facility ("CCCF"), Warden James Owens
("Owens"), Warden J. Taylor ("Taylor") and Camden County Board
of Freeholders ("BOF")
for allegedly unconstitutional conditions
of confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1.
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:
dismiss the Complaint with prejudice as to claims made against
CCCF, BOF, Owens, and Taylor; and (2)
dismiss the Complaint
without prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e) (2) (b) (ii).
First, the Complaint must be dismissed with prejudice
as to claims made against CCCF because it is not a "state actor"
within the meaning of § 1983.
See Crawford v. McMillian,
App'x 113, 116 (3d Cir. 2016)
("[T]he prison is not an entity
subject to suit under 42 U.S.C.
474 F.2d 991,
State Corr. Facility,
(citing Fischer v.
(3d Cir. 1973)); Grabow v. Southern
726 F. Supp. 537,
(correctional facility is not a "person" under § 1983).
Second, the Complaint must be dismissed with prejudice
as to claims made against BOF because it is not a separate legal
entity from Camden County and is therefore not independently
subject to suit.
See Bermudez v. Essex Cty. D.O.C., No. 12-6035,
2013 WL 1405263, at *5
"There is no respondeat superior theory of municipal liability,
so a city may not be held vicariously liable under § 1983 for
the actions of its agents. Rather, a municipality may be held
liable only if its policy or custom is the
'moving force' behind
a constitutional violation." Sanford v. Stiles, 456 F.3d 298,
(3d Cir. 2006)
(citing Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Social
436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978)). See also Collins v. City of
503 U.S. 115, 122 (1992)
vicariously liable under
("The city is not
1983 for the constitutional torts of
its agents: It is only liable when it can be fairly said that
the city itself is the wrongdoer."). A Complaint must plead
facts showing that relevant policy-makers are "responsible for
either the affirmative proclamation of a policy or acqLiescence
in a well-settled custom." Bielevicz v. Dubinon,
915 F.2d 845,
850 (3d Cir. 1990) . 1 In other words, Plaintiff must set forth
facts supporting an inference that Camden County itself was the
"moving force" behind the alleged constitutional violation.
436 U.S. at 689.
Third, the Complaint must be dismissed with prejudice
as to claims made against Owens and Taylor because the Complaint
does "[not] allege any personal involvement by [the wardens]
1 "Policy is made when a decisionmaker possess[ing]
authority to establish municipal policy with respect to the
action issues an official proclamation, policy, or edict.
Government custom can be demonstrated by showing that a given
course of conduct, although not specifically endorsed or
authorized by law, is so well-settled and permanent as virtually
to constitute law." Kirkland v. DiLeo, 581 F. App'x 111, 118 (3d
Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted)
(alteration in original).
in any constitutional violation - a fatal flaw,
in a § 1983 suit cannot be predicated solely on the operation of
respondeat superior."' Baker v. Flagg,
439 F. App'x 82, 84
(citing Rode v. Dellarciprete, 845 F.2d 1195, 1207
(3d Cir. 1988)). "[Plaintiff's] complaint contains no
allegations regarding [the] Warden [ s] .
liability is inapplicable to § 1983 suits, a plaintiff must
plead that each Government-official defendant, through the
official's own individual actions, has violated the
[plaintiff] failed to state a claim against
[the] Warden[s] ." Bob v. Kuo,
(citing Ashcroft v.
387 F. App'x 134, 136 (3d Cir.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
Plaintiff's claims against Owens and
Taylor must be dismissed with prejudice.
Finally, 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
claim 2 , 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)
"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
conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do.'" Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
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
704 F.3d 239, 245
(3d Cir. 2013)
"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. §
With respect to alleged facts giving rise to his
claims, Plaintiff states: "The housing officer placed me in an
over crowded room. I was on the floor with urine,
species [sic] on the floor[.]
I had to eat my food in them harsh
conditions violating my civil rights." Complaint§ III(C)
Plaintiff states that the purported events giving rise
to these claims occurred: "Around bout 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014."
Id. § III (B).
Plaintiff contends that his injuries arising from
these alleged events were "terrible headaches" from hitting his
head on "the desk in the room." Id. § IV.
Plaintiff seeks $1.5 million in relief.
These 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.
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)
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.
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.n). 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
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.3
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
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. 4
Plaintiff should note that when an amended complaint
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)
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
To the extent the complaint seeks relief for conditions
Plaintiff encountered prior to September 30, 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 his release. In the
event Plaintiff elects to file an amended complaint, he should
limit his complaint to confinements in which he was released
after September 30, 2014.
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.
For the reasons stated above, the Complaint is:
dismissed with prejudice as to the CCCF, Owens, Taylor and BOF;
and (b) dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a
claim. An appropriate order follows.
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
February 7, 2017
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