BOONE v. CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTION FACILITY
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 3/30/2017. (tf, n.m.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
DERRICK L. BOONE,
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-07133 (JBS-AMD)
Derrick L. Boone, Plaintiff Pro Se
1123 Princess Ave.
Camden, NJ 08104
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Derrick L. Boone seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden
County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”). Complaint, Docket Entry
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 brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 19831 for alleged violations of Plaintiff’s constitutional
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
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
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
omitted). Generally, then, “a public employee acts under color
of state law while acting in his official capacity or while
exercising his responsibilities pursuant to state law.” Id.
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.
See Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658,
Because Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged that a
“person” deprived him 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. 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.
Plaintiff may be able to amend the complaint to name a
person or persons who were personally involved in the alleged
unconstitutional conditions of confinement, however. To that
end, the Court shall grant Plaintiff leave to amend the
complaint within 30 days of the date of this order.
Plaintiff is advised that the amended complaint 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 alleges he experienced
unconstitutional conditions of confinement on “several dates
range from 1993-2014 most recent 2013-2008-2009 2004 – times
vary.” Complaint § III. He states: “I have sustained [numerous]
problems from living conditions in jail[.] Pinch nerve from
sleeping on floor slipped in shower, fell on water on tier
causing back injuries my neck still bothers me from pinch nerve
Back hurts did receive medical treatment for foot ailment needed
to be on medical unit.” Id. Even accepting these statements as
true for screening purposes only, there is not enough factual
support for the Court to infer a constitutional violation has
Plaintiff states that 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,
Moreover, Plaintiff’s allegations that he slipped and
fell are insufficient to state a claim for relief under § 1983.
At best, Plaintiff’s cursory statements that he slipped and fell
in the shower and on water on the tier amount to allegations of
negligence, which is not enough to state a claim for a
deprivation of a constitutional right. “[T]he Due Process Clause
is simply not implicated by a negligent act of an official
causing unintended loss of or injury to life, liberty, or
property.” Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 328 (1986)
(emphasis in original) (finding no cause of action where inmate
slipped and fell on a pillow negligently left on stairs by
correctional deputy); see also, Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S.
344, 348 (1986) (“The guarantee of due process has never been
understood to mean that the State must guarantee due care on the
part of its officials”). Plaintiff’s allegations that he slipped
and fell therefore do not implicate constitutional rights and do
not provide grounds for relief under § 1983. See, e.g., Bacon v.
Carroll, 232 F. App'x 158, 160 (3d Cir. 2007) (allegations that
inmate slipped and fell on a wet floor amounted “merely to
negligence” and therefore were “not actionable under § 1983”).
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.3
Plaintiff should note that when an amended complaint
is filed, the original complaint no longer performs any function
The complaint is unclear as to the dates of Plaintiff’s
confinements in the CCCF. Plaintiff states he was confined
between 1993 and 2014 but states the “most recent” date was
2013. Complaint § III. To the extent the complaint seeks relief
for conditions Plaintiff encountered during confinements prior
to October 13, 2014, those claims are barred by the statute of
limitations and must be dismissed with prejudice. 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. 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 at CCCF would have been immediately
apparent to Plaintiff at the time of his detention; therefore,
the statute of limitations for some of Plaintiff’s claims
expired as early as 1995 and, at the latest, sometime in 2016.
In the event Plaintiff elects to file an amended complaint, he
should focus on facts encountered during confinements on or
subsequent to October 13, 2014, if any. Because Plaintiff filed
his complaint on October 13, 2016, claims arising from
confinements ending prior to October 13, 2014, are barred by the
statute of limitations and Plaintiff cannot recover for those
claims. Plaintiff therefore may not assert those claims in the
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.4 Id.
For the reasons stated above, claims arising from
Plaintiff’s confinements ending prior to October 13, 2014, are
dismissed with prejudice. The remainder of the complaint,
insofar as it seeks relief for conditions of confinement
Plaintiff encountered on or after October 3, 2014, 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.
March 30, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
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