MCKEE v. CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL
OPINION FILED. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 3/3/17. (js)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
SHARON L. MCKEE,
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL,
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-cv-07275 (JBS-AMD)
Sharon L. McKee, Plaintiff Pro Se
2835 Idaho Road
Camden, NJ 08104
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Sharon L. McKee seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden
County Jail (“CCJ”). 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
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 seeks equitable relief from CCJ for
allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. As the CCJ
is not a “state actor” within the meaning of § 1983, 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)).
Plaintiff may be able to amend the complaint to name
state actors 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. The complaint states: “I was in the
County Jail and they put me in the cell with (4) other people
and (2) of us were on the floor my head had to be next to the
toilet.” Complaint § III. 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.
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, Plaintiff’s claim for prospective injunctive
relief must be dismissed as moot. Plaintiff has not stated a
request for monetary damages in the complaint; rather,
Plaintiff’s request for relief states: “fix the problem of over
crowded cells and inmates having to lay on the floor.” Complaint
§ V. Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated at the CCJ, however.
Plaintiff therefore lacks standing to seek injunctive relief
because she is no longer subject to the allegedly
unconstitutional conditions she seeks to challenge. Abdul-Akbar
v. Watson, 4 F.3d 195, 206-07 (3d Cir. 1993); Weaver v. Wilcox,
650 F.2d 22, 27 (3d Cir. 1981).1
Because Plaintiff seeks a court injunction rather than money
damages, the Court further advises Plaintiff that she is one of
thousands of members of a certified class in the case on this
court's docket entitled, Dittimus-Bey v. Camden County
As Plaintiff may be able to amend her 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
Correctional Facility, Civil No. 05-cv-0063 (JBS), which is a
class action case. The class plaintiffs are all persons confined
at the Camden County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”), as either
pretrial detainees or convicted prisoners, at any time from
January 6, 2005, until the present time. The class of
plaintiffs seek injunctive and declaratory relief about
unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the CCCF involving
overcrowding. That class action does not involve money damages
for individuals. A proposed final settlement of that case, which
describes the settlement in detail, was preliminarily approved
on February 22, 2017. At present, various measures already
undertaken in the Second and Third Consent Decrees under court
approval have reduced the jail population to fewer prisoners
than the intended design capacity for the jail. This has greatly
reduced or eliminated triple and quadruple bunking in two-person
cells, as explained in the proposed Sixth and Final Consent
Decree, which would continue those requirements under court
supervision for two more years. According to the Notice to all
class members that was approved in the Dittimus-Bey case on
February 22, 2017, any class member can object to the proposed
settlement by filing an objection in the Dittimus-Bey case
before April 24, 2017. A final court hearing is set for May 23,
2017, at which any objections will be considered. If the
Dittimus-Bey settlement is finally approved after the May 23rd
hearing, Plaintiff and other class members will be barred from
seeking injunctive or declaratory relief for the period of time
from January 6, 2005, until the date of final approval, but the
settlement does not bar any individual class member from seeking
money damages in an individual case.
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.
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.
March 3, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?