MCLAUGHLIN v. CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONS
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 2/21/2017. (tf, n.m.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONS,
No. 16-cv-07053 (JBS-AMD)
Jacques McLaughlin, Plaintiff Pro Se
1 Sturbridge Court
Medford, NJ 08055
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Jacques McLaughlin seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden
County Department of Corrections (“CCDOC”). Complaint, Docket
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
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).
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 alleges he experienced unconstitutional
conditions of confinement during confinements at the Camden
County Jail (“CCJ”). Complaint § III. Plaintiff states: “I was
pulled over for a ticket unpaid in error and stayed in county
jail on floor.” Id. Even accepting the statement as true for
screening purposes only, there is not enough factual support for
the Court to infer a constitutional violation has occurred.
Plaintiff alleges he slept on the floor, presumably
because no beds were available. 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
dates and length of the confinement(s), whether Plaintiff was a
pretrial detainee or convicted prisoner, etc.
Moreover, the CCDOC is not independently subject to
suit because it is not a separate legal entity from Camden
County. See Bermudez v. Essex Cty. D.O.C., No. 12-6035, 2013 WL
1405263, at *5 (D.N.J. Apr. 4, 2013) (citing cases). Plaintiff
has not pled sufficient facts to impose liability on Camden
“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, 314 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't
of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978)). See also, Collins
v. City of Harker Heights, 503 U.S. 115, 122 (1992) (“The city
is not vicariously liable under § 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.”).
Plaintiff must plead facts showing that the relevant
Camden County policy-makers are “responsible for either the
affirmative proclamation of a policy or acquiescence in a wellsettled custom.” Bielevicz v. Dubinon, 915 F.2d 845, 850 (3d
Cir. 1990).1 In other words, Plaintiff must set forth facts
“Policy is made when a decisionmaker possess[ing] final
authority to establish municipal policy with respect to the
supporting an inference that Camden County itself was the
“moving force” behind the alleged constitutional violation.
Monell, 436 U.S. at 689.
As Plaintiff may be able to amend his complaint to
address the deficiencies noted by the Court, the Court shall
grant Plaintiff leave to amend the complaint within 30 days of
the date of this order.
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.2 Id.
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).
2 The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
For the reasons stated above, the complaint is
dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim. The
Court will reopen the matter in the event Plaintiff files an
amended complaint within the time allotted by the Court.
An appropriate order follows.
February 21, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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