DAVIS v. CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL et al
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 2/24/17. (jbk, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
JOSHUA MORRICES DAVIS,
No. 16-cv-07299 (JBS-AMD)
CAMDEN COUNTY JAIL,
BURLINGTON COUNTY JAIL,
CUMBERLAND COUNTY JAIL and
SALEM COUNTY JAIL,
Joshua Morrices Davis, Plaintiff Pro Se
821 North Main Road, Apt. 28A
Vineland, NJ 08360
SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff Joshua Morrices Davis seeks to bring a civil
rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Camden
County Jail (“Camden CJ”), Burlington County Jail (“Burlington
CJ”), Cumberland County Jail (“Cumberland CJ”) and Salem County
Jail (“Salem CJ”) for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement. Complaint, Docket Entry 1. (Camden CJ, Burlington
CJ, Cumberland CJ and Salem CJ are collectively referred to
herein as “the Jail Defendants”.)
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) requires courts to review
complaints prior to service in cases in which a plaintiff is
proceeding in forma pauperis. Courts 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.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court will: (a)
dismiss the Complaint with prejudice as to claims made against
the Jail Defendants, as they are not state actors under 42
U.S.C. § 1983; (b) dismiss the Complaint with prejudice as to
Camden CJ for the additional reason that claims against Camden
CJ are barred by the statute of limitations (28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)); and (c) dismiss the Complaint without
prejudice for failure to state a claim (28 U.S.C. §
B. The Claims Against The Jail Defendants Are Dismissed With
Prejudice, As They Are Not State Actors Under § 1983.
The Complaint must be dismissed with prejudice as to
claims made against the Jail Defendants because they are not
“state actors” within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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)); Grabow v. Southern State Corr. Facility, 726 F. Supp.
537, 538–39 (D.N.J. 1989) (correctional facility is not a
“person” under § 1983).
C. The Claims Against Camden CJ Are Also Dismissed With
Prejudice For The Additional Reason That Such Claims Are
Barred By The Statute Of Limitations.
“[P]laintiffs who file complaints subject to dismissal
should receive leave to amend unless amendment would be
inequitable under [§ 1915] or futile.” Grayson v. Mayview State
Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cir. 2002). This Court denies leave
to amend at this time as Plaintiff’s Complaint regarding Camden
CJ is barred by the statute of limitations, which is governed by
New Jersey's two-year limitations period for personal injury.1
See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 276 (1985); Dique v. N.J.
State Police, 603 F.3d 181, 185 (3d Cir. 2010). The accrual date
of a § 1983 action is determined by federal law, however.
Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 388 (2007); Montanez v. Sec'y Pa.
Dep't of Corr., 773 F.3d 472, 480 (3d Cir. 2014). “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, 773 F.3d at 480 (internal quotation marks omitted).
“Although the running of the statute of limitations is
ordinarily an affirmative defense, where that defense is obvious
from the face of the complaint and no development of the record
is necessary, a court may dismiss a time-barred complaint sua
sponte under § 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) for failure to
state a claim.” Ostuni v. Wa Wa's Mart, 532 F. App’x 110, 111–12
(3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam).
With respect to Camden CJ, the Complaint states that
Plaintiff slept “under the bottom bunk on the floor” in “2004 or
2005.” Complaint § III(C).
The allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement at Camden CJ would have been immediately apparent to
Plaintiff at the time of detention. Accordingly, the statute of
limitations for Plaintiff’s claims against Camden CJ expired in
As there are no grounds for equitable tolling of the
statute of limitations,2 the Complaint as to Camden CJ will be
dismissed with prejudice as barred by the statute of
limitations. Ostuni v. Wa Wa's Mart, 532 F. App’x 110, 112 (3d
Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (affirming dismissal with prejudice due
to expiration of statute of limitations).
Equitable tolling “is only appropriate ‘(1) where the defendant
has actively misled the plaintiff respecting the plaintiff's
cause of action; (2) where the plaintiff in some extraordinary
way has been prevented from asserting his or her rights; or (3)
where the plaintiff has timely asserted his or her rights
mistakenly in the wrong forum.’” Omar v. Blackman, 590 F. App’x
162, 166 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Santos ex rel. Beato v. United
States, 559 F.3d 189, 197 (3d Cir. 2009)).
D. Plaintiff’s Claims Are Dismissed Without Prejudice For
Failure To State A Claim.
To survive sua sponte screening for failure to state a
claim3, 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).
The Complaint must be dismissed because the Complaint
does not set forth sufficient factual support for the Court to
infer that a constitutional violation has occurred.
First, with respect to Burlington CJ, the Complaint
states in its entirety: “2014, 2013[.] Sleep on the floor.”
Complaint § III(C). Even construing the Complaint as seeking to
bring a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
alleged prison overcrowding in relation to Plaintiff “sleep[ing]
on [the] floor” in Burlington CJ (Complaint § III(C)), any such
purported claims must be dismissed because the Complaint does
not set forth sufficient 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
Salem CJ and Cumberland CJ
As to Salem CJ, the Complaint states in its entirety:
“2013[,] 2014[.] Was in Salem County.” Complaint § III(C).
As to Cumberland CJ, the Complaint is blank. Complaint
Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
requires pleadings to contain “a short and plain statement of
the grounds for the court's jurisdiction . . .
a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief; and demand for the relief sought . . . .”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(1)-(3).
Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges no facts whatsoever in
relation to the statement of claim against Salem CJ and
Cumberland CJ (Complaint § III(C)), and does not identify the
specific injuries particularly alleged against these defendants
or the relief sought uniquely from them. Id. §§ IV, V.
With respect to Salem CJ and Cumberland CJ, the Court
cannot discern what cause of action Plaintiff intends to pursue.
The Complaint must therefore be dismissed for failure
to state a claim because the Complaint does not set forth any
factual support for the Court to infer that a constitutional
violation has occurred. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).
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.4
The amended complaint shall be subject to screening prior to
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
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.5
To the extent the complaint seeks relief for conditions
Plaintiff encountered prior to October 14, 2014, those claims
are barred by the statute of limitations. Claims brought under §
1983 are governed by New Jersey's two-year limitations period
for personal injury. 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
For the reasons stated above, the Complaint is: (a)
dismissed with prejudice as to claims made against all Jail
Defendants, as they are not state actors under 42 U.S.C. § 1983;
(b) dismissed with prejudice as to Camden CJ for the additional
reason that claims against it are barred by the statute of
limitations (28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)); and (c) dismissed
without prejudice for failure to state a claim (28 U.S.C. §
An appropriate order follows.
February 24, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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 would have been immediately apparent
to Plaintiff; therefore, the statute of limitations on some of
Plaintiff’s claims expired two years after his release. In the
event Plaintiff elects to file an amended complaint, he should
limit his complaint to confinements in which he was released
after October 14, 2014.
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