GOODWATER v. C C C FACILITY et al
OPINION FILED. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 4/25/17. (js)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
ALETA ALEASE GOODWATER,
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-06995 (JBS-AMD)
C C C FACILITY; SEAN DAVID
Aleta Alease Goodwater, Plaintiff Pro Se
1572 Park Blvd.
Camden, NJ 08103
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Aleta A. Goodwater seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the
Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”) and Sean David
Krebs. Complaint, Docket Entry 1.
Section 1915(e)(2) requires a court to review
complaints prior to service 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 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.
As it is clear from the face of the complaint that it
is barred by the statute of limitations, the Court will dismiss
the complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).
Plaintiff alleges she was falsely arrested in 2009 as
part of Operation Sunburst. She states: “[t]hey picked up Sean
D. Krebs up in 2009 with 56 bags of crack [cocaine], being as
that they kept Harassing Him after they let Sean go that same
Day. Then that following week or month I shall say at the time I
Aleta was a user so when task force seen him again task force
was harassing me Aleta and I had my personal use on me and they
charge me for Distribution which I was a user at the time.”
Complaint § III(c). She further alleges she suffered bed bug
bites, germs, and mental stress while in CCCF. Id. § IV.
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). “[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)).
Plaintiff brings this action for monetary damages
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,1 for alleged violations of her
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
Because Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged that a
“person” deprived her of a federal right, the complaint does not
meet the standards necessary to set forth a prima facie case
under § 1983. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from CCCF for
allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement, alleging
she was subjected to bed bug bites and germs while she was
incarcerated there in 2009. Complaint § IV. The CCCF, 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)). Because the claims against the CCCF must be dismissed
with prejudice, the claims may not proceed and Plaintiff may not
name the CCCF as a defendant.
See Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658,
To the extent the complaint could be construed as
raising false arrest claims against the Operation Sunburst
officers, the claim is barred by the two-year statute of
limitations. 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 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). “Claims for false
arrest ... typically accrue on the date of the arrest ...
because, at that point, the plaintiff has reason to know of the
injury.” Ostuni v. Wa Wa's Mart, 532 F. App’x 110, 112 (3d Cir.
2013) (per curiam) (citing Montgomery v. De Simone, 159 F.3d
120, 126 (3d Cir. 1998)).
Plaintiff states the arrest occurred in 2009.
Complaint § III(b). Therefore, the statute of limitations for
Plaintiff’s claims expired in 2011 at the latest, well before
this complaint was filed in 2016. Plaintiff has filed her
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 her cause of action,
there are no extraordinary circumstances that prevented
Plaintiff from filing her claim, and there is nothing to
indicate Plaintiff filed her claim on time but in the wrong
forum. See Omar v. Blackman, 590 F. App’x 162, 166 (3d Cir.
The statute of limitations has likewise expired on any
state law defamation claim Plaintiff may have against Mr. Krebs
or the Operation Sunburst officers. New Jersey law requires all
defamation claims to be brought “within 1 year next after the
publication of the alleged libel or slander.” N.J. STAT. ANN. §
2A:14-3. The time to bring defamation claims expired in 2010.
As it is clear from the face of the complaint that it
was filed after the expiration of the statute of limitations,
the complaint is dismissed with prejudice, meaning Plaintiff may
not file an amended complaint concerning the events of 2009.
Ostuni, 532 F. App’x at 112 (affirming dismissal with prejudice
due to expiration of statute of limitations).
For the reasons stated above, the complaint is
dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim.
An appropriate order follows.
April 25, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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