GARDNER v. CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 1/20/2017. (dmr)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-06948 (JBS-AMD)
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL,
Plaintiff Pro Se
129 3RD Avenue
Roebling, NJ 08554
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Joseph Gardner 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.
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 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.
First, the Complaint must be dismissed with prejudice
as to claims made against the CCJ 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).
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 of
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
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). “[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
“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. §
Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation
omitted) (emphasis added).
Here, Plaintiff’s Complaint states in its entirety: “I
was arrested and incarcirated [sic] at Camden County and was
forced to sleep on the floors without proper water and medicine
because I’m a diabetic. The officers and correction officer
trated [sic] me bad and unfairly as a human being.” Complaint §
Plaintiff claims that the events giving rise to these
claims allegedly occurred “10:00 AM 2015[.] January or February
of 2015.” Id. § III(B).
Plaintiff alleges that “after sleeping on floors next
to toilets I sundenly [sic] found rashes on my back and legs.”
Id. § IV. He seeks “$3500” and claims “some kind of money should
compensate!” Id. § V.
Even construing the Complaint as seeking to bring an
action against “[t]he officers and correction officer” (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
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 for the Court to infer
Plaintiff was denied adequate medical care. In order to set
forth a cognizable claim for violation of his 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.
hisGamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Natale v. Camden Cnty. Corr.
Facility, 318 F.3d 575, 582 (3d Cir. 2003). A mere assertion
that he was not given medication is insufficient to meet the
pleading standard in the absence of any facts. If Plaintiff
wishes to pursue this claim, Plaintiff should provide facts
supporting both of the requirements in any amended complaint.
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.2
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
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
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.
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.
January 20, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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